Religion and Social Trends

Americans Likely to Back Bush's Conditional Plan for Palestinian Statehood

Bush's Middle East ratings were slipping prior to Monday's speech

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Under growing public doubts about whether his administration has a clear and well-conceived plan for the Middle East, President Bush announced his conditional support for an independent Palestinian state yesterday, saying the Palestinian people must first replace Yasser Arafat with someone who will reject the use of terrorism as a weapon against Israel. Gallup polling conducted this weekend suggests Americans overwhelmingly agree that an independent Palestinian state should be established if an end to anti-Israel violence can be assured.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans told Gallup in the June 21-23 survey that they would favor an independent Palestine if the Palestinian government demonstrates that it can end the suicide bombings in Israel. By contrast, previous Gallup polling has shown that Americans are more ambivalent about supporting a free Palestine when no conditions are mentioned. A mid-May survey, found just 48% in favor of creating an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza strip, one quarter were opposed, and another quarter were unsure.

Support for Independent Palestinian State

June 21-23, 2002

May 20-22, 2002

Do you favor or oppose the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank if the Palestinian government demonstrates that it can end the suicide bombings in Israel?

Do you favor or oppose the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and the Gaza strip?

Favor

Oppose

Not sure

Favor

Oppose

Not Sure

74%

18

8

48%

27

25

Arafat Singled Out for Rebuke

There is little doubt that Bush's emphasis on Arafat's culpability for Palestinian terrorism struck a responsive chord with the American people -- most of whom have an unfavorable image of the Palestinian leader and believe Arafat is not sincere in his efforts to achieve peace.

According to a June 7-8 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, only 16% of Americans believe Arafat "genuinely wants peace with the Israelis," while 76% do not believe this. Skepticism about the sincerity of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is also high -- just 32% believe he genuinely wants peace with the Palestinians, while 57% disagree. However, Gallup sees a much wider gulf in general attitudes toward the two leaders; 80% of Americans have an unfavorable impression of Arafat, compared with only 37% who feel unfavorably about Sharon.

This preference in U.S. public opinion toward Israel is also seen in Gallup's longstanding measure of sympathies toward the two sides. By a more than three-to-one margin, Americans favor the Israelis over the Palestinians. A notable 37% have no preference in the dispute, either saying they sympathize with both sides, neither, or have no opinion.

Middle East Sympathies
June 21-23, 2002

Bush's Image

Public confidence that Bush has a cohesive Middle East policy has slipped in the past few months, falling from 48% in early April to 35% in the latest poll. The question now is whether this much anticipated Rose Garden speech can foster belief that the Bush administration has a "clear and well thought out" policy on the Middle East situation.

Does the Bush Administration Have a Clear and Well Thought Out Policy on the Situation in the Middle East?

Prior to Monday afternoon's speech, it was not just Democrats saying that Bush's Middle East policy was unclear. Republicans were evenly divided in their ratings, with only 47% saying the Bush administration had a clear and well thought out policy and 48% disagreeing. Democrats and independents were even more negative -- roughly two thirds of each group said Bush's Middle East policy lacks cohesion.

Roadmap to Public Reaction

Gallup has a number of indicators of Americans' confidence in Middle East peace that bear watching over the coming weeks. Among these are:

  • Whether more Americans grow to believe Bush has a clear Middle East policy.
  • Whether Americans perceive the United States to be a neutral broker, or is taking one side or the other. Gallup polling this spring found most Americans prefer that the U.S. government stay neutral in the Palestinian-Israeli dispute (68%). But when asked to evaluate how the United States is acting, close to half (45%) felt the United States takes Israel's side while only 43% said it is neutral (and only 4% felt the United States takes the Palestinians side).
  • Whether public perceptions change about the importance of achieving a peaceful solution to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. As of April 2002, more Americans than at any time since 1991 said that this should be a very important goal for the United States. But there remains room for growth on this measure, as at that time 58% rated it very important, while a third called it somewhat important, and 9% considered it less important.
  • Whether Americans gain confidence that Middle East peace can be achieved. A Gallup poll conducted in February found that, even before the recent escalation of Palestinian terrorism and Israeli military incursions, only 37% of Americans believed that a time would come when the two sides will settle their differences; 59% disagreed. Just two years earlier, the needle on this question tilted in a positive direction, with 49% of Americans hopeful that peace could be achieved and just 45% doubtful.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,020 adults, 18 years and older, conducted June 21-23, 2002. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 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.

Turning to the Middle East,

In the Middle East situation, are your sympathies more with the Israelis or more with the Palestinians?

 


Israelis


Palestinians


BOTH (vol.)

NEITHER
(vol.)

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2002 Jun 21-23

49

14

8

19

10

2002 May 20-22

49

15

7

19

10

2002 Apr 22-24

47

13

9

18

13

2002 Apr 5-7

50

15

9

17

9

2002 Mar 8-9

43

14

6

20

17

2002 Feb 4-6

55

14

6

14

11

2001 Dec 14-16

51

14

5

17

13

2001 Sep 14-15

55

7

4

20

14

2001 Aug 10-12

41

13

7

18

21

2001 Feb 1-4

51

16

7

14

12

2000 Oct 13-14 ^

41

11

9

18

21

2000 Jul 6-9

41

14

5

18

22

2000 Jan 25-26

43

13

5

21

18

1999 Jul 22-25

43

12

11

19

15

1998 Dec 4-6

46

13

5

22

14

1997 Aug 12-13

38

8

5

19

30

1996 Nov 21-24

38

15

6

14

27

1993 Sep 10-12

42

15

6

17

20

1991 Feb

64

7

19

--

10

1989 Aug

50

14

15

--

21

1988 May 13-15

37

15

22

--

27

^

Based on interviews with 821 national adults; +/- 4 pct. pts.

MAY 1988-APRILl 2002 WORDING: In the Middle East situation, are your sympathies more with the Israelis or more with the Palestinian Arabs?



Do you think the Bush administration has a clear and well thought out policy on the situation in the Middle East, or not?

 

Yes, does have

No, does not

No opinion

2002 Jun 21-23

35%

60

5

2002 Apr 5-7

48%

47

5

2002 Apr 3 ^

41%

48

11

^

One-night poll; 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.



Do you favor or oppose the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank if the Palestinian government demonstrates that it can end the suicide bombings in Israel?

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2002 Jun 21-23

74%

18

8



Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/6289/Americans-Likely-Back-Bushs-Conditional-Plan-Palestinian-Statehood.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030