Currently, 45% of Americans support establishing an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip while 42% oppose it. This follows years of significantly more Americans supporting than opposing Palestinian statehood.
Americans’ support for an independent Palestinian state is essentially unchanged from last year, but the percentage opposed is up five percentage points to 42% — the highest level seen in Gallup’s trend. . . . As has long been the case, Democrats and Republicans have sharply differing views on establishing a Palestinian state. Currently, 61% of Democrats, 50% of independents and 25% of Republicans are in favor.
What is not clear, however, is whether this is a shift in opposition to the idea of a Palestinian state or merely recognition that it’s not in the cards for the foreseeable future. Partisan loyalty, interestingly, has a lot to do with how respondents see the “peace process.” Gallup explains that while Republicans have generally been less favorably disposed to a Palestinian state, the GOP position changed in 2003 “coinciding with an effort by then-President George W. Bush to broker a peace deal that involved Palestinian statehood.” Perhaps then it is the perception of which way the president of their own party is tilting that affects partisans’ view of the conflict. Gallup speculates, “Republicans may take Trump’s lead [if he pursues the peace process] and once again support statehood, just as they did when Bush advocated it in 2003.”
By the same token, in the post-Obama world, Democratic support for Israel in general may rebound. Without need to defend President Obama’s rhetoric or positions, the Democratic Party may see an uptick in support for the Jewish state. This is already reflected to some extent in views on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. We already see that Democrats who were compelled to go along with the Iran deal in the Obama administration are now much more vocal about the need for additional sanctions. (In this regard the parties are converging on a common position. The administration and most GOP members do not favor “ripping up” the Iran deal, but rather enforcing it strictly and applying new sanctions for Iran’s non-nuclear behavior.)
On Israel more generally, while 62 percent of Americans sympathize more with the Israelis than the Palestinians, “this ranges from 82% of Republicans to 57% of independents and 47% of Democrats. By contrast, 6% of Republicans, 23% of independents and 29% of Democrats sympathize more with the Palestinians.” That partisan divide is nothing new; Republican support for Israel, largely a function of Christian evangelicals, has been rising dramatically while Democratic support has been flat.
Jewish voters, whatever their views on Israel, have since the days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt voted overwhelmingly for Democrats, with the exception of a brief upturn for Ronald Reagan (who garnered about 40 percent of the Jewish vote). That trend is sure to continue as President Trump is viewed as hostile toward immigration, civil rights, tolerance and the rule of law — all acute, long-standing concerns of the Jewish community. Trump’s “America First” rhetoric harks back to the bad old days of Nazi-sympathetic figures such as Charles Lindbergh. In the administration’s refusal to refer to Jews in the International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement, Jews — and many other Americans — hear the echoes of anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers. (And no, it makes no difference that Trump’s daughter married a Jewish man and is raising Trump’s grandchildren in the Jewish faith. Ivanka Trump’s support of working women and child care hasn’t made women any more supportive of Trump, either.)
In sum, the politics of Israel for some time has not driven the partisan affiliations of Jewish Americans. No matter how chummy the relationship between Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is, expect Jewish Americans to be virtually uniform in their opposition to Trump.