Americans Favor Israelis in Current Conflict With Palestinians

by David W. Moore

But lean toward non-involvement by the United States

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- As the Israeli military expands its incursion into West Bank cities and towns under Palestinian control, amidst suicide bombings by Palestinians in Israel, a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll finds Americans solidly on the side of Israel, but with significant numbers troubled by Israeli actions and feeling that they will make it more difficult for the United States to win its war on terrorism. Americans are much more likely to say that Israeli actions in the conflict are justified than they are to find Palestinian actions justified. They are also more likely to say that the Palestinians have the burden of taking the first step toward ending the violence. At the same time, the poll shows that Americans are not eager for the United States to play a major role in trying to develop a peace plan and are inclined to think President Bush should not become personally involved.

The poll was conducted yesterday evening, April 3, and finds that only 17% of Americans feel that Palestinian actions in the current conflict are justified, while 62% say they are not. By contrast, Americans say Israeli actions are justified, by a margin of 44% to 34%. About one in five Americans express no opinion on each of the questions.

Are Israeli/Palestinian Actions Justified?
April 3, 2002

Given this sentiment that favors the Israelis over the Palestinians, it is not surprising that by a two-to-one margin, 52% to 25%, Americans feel the Palestinians rather than the Israelis should take the first step to end the violence.

Do you think -- [ROTATED: the Israelis should take the first step and end military action before the Palestinians agree to end suicide bombings, (or do you think) the Palestinians should take the first step and end suicide bombings before the Israelis agree to end to military action]?

 

Israelis should
take the first step

Palestinians should
take the first step

No
opinion

2002 Apr 3

25%

52

23



Despite the sentiment favoring the Israelis over the Palestinians, Americans believe that the current Israeli actions will make it more difficult for the United States to win the war on terrorism.

Thinking about Israel's ties with the U.S., do you think Israel's current military action will make it more difficult for the U.S. to win the war on terrorism, or not?

 

Yes, more difficult

No, not

No opinion

2002 Apr 3

54%

35

11



Americans Favor Limited Role for United States in Conflict

Americans are mostly divided over whether the United States should actively support Israel in its military actions (32%) or apply strong pressure on Israel to stop military action against the Palestinians (39%). Another 19% say the United States should do nothing at all. These results show that less than a majority of Americans feel the United States should try to stop the Israeli military incursion in the West Bank.

In terms of U.S. policy toward Israel, should the U.S. -- [ROTATED: actively support Israel in what it is doing, apply strong pressure to Israel to stop military action against the Palestinians, or should the U.S. do nothing at all]?

 

Actively
support

Apply pressure to stop military action

Do nothing
at all

No
opinion

2002 Apr 3

32%

39

19

10



Despite more than seven in 10 Americans wanting the United States either to actively support Israel or to try to stop Israeli military action, a substantial majority of Americans, 58%, say the United States should opt out of taking an active role in developing a peace plan and instead should encourage the two sides to find a solution on their own. However, 36% want the United States to develop such a plan.

Do you think the U.S. should -- [ROTATED: develop a peace plan and attempt to get the Israelis and the Palestinians to accept it, (or do you think the U.S. should) encourage the two sides to find a solution on their own but not develop a peace plan]?

 

Develop a
peace plan

Encourage to find solution on their own

No
opinion

2002 Apr 3

36%

58

6



Similarly, a majority of Americans, by 55% to 41%, say President Bush should not become personally involved in negotiations to solve the problems in the Middle East.

At this time, do you think President Bush should -- or should not -- become personally involved in negotiations to solve the problems in the Middle East?

 

Should

Should not

No opinion

2002 Apr 3

41%

55

4



Little Sympathy for Yasser Arafat

The Israeli government has justified its incursion into Palestinian-controlled areas, using the same rationale expressed by President Bush when the United States took military action in Afghanistan -- that countries which harbor terrorists will be treated as enemies. The poll shows that 77% of Americans feel this policy should apply to Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat, who has been condemned by the Israeli government for harboring terrorists and failing to stem the suicide bombings.

As you may know, U.S. policy says that anyone who harbors terrorists will be treated as an enemy of the United States. Do you think that policy should or should not apply to Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat?

 

Yes, should apply

No, should not

No opinion

2002 Apr 3

77%

16

7



And, while several international political leaders have dismissed Israel's offer to allow Arafat to leave Palestinian territory and go into exile, a slight majority of Americans, 52%, say that is what the Israeli government should do. Another 12% say the Israelis should kill Arafat, while just 22% say to let him go.

What should the Israelis do with Yasser Arafat -- [ROTATED: kill him, send him into exile, or let him go]?

 


Kill him

Send him
into exile


Let him go

No
opinion

2002 Apr 3

12%

52

22

14



Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with -- 527 -- national adults, aged 18+, conducted April 3, 2002. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Polls conducted entirely in one day, such as this one, are subject to additional error or bias not found in polls conducted over several days.

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