As President Joe Biden prepares to visit Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York this week, a new survey indicates that, while most Americans see Israel as a partner or ally, many doubt if his far-right government shares American values.
The poll results from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, as well as the meeting, come at a time when the Biden administration and Israel are at odds. These difficulties stem from Netanyahu’s proposed judicial overhaul, which has provoked enormous protests in key Israeli towns, continued disputes over how to deal with Iran and the Palestinians, and statements by Netanyahu’s political supporters that have irritated US officials.
Despite the disagreements, Biden, who stepped out in open opposition to the judicial proposal, and Netanyahu are likely to depict a strong cooperation in which the US continues to assist Israel’s security.
Biden will also underline that the United States is working to expand the Trump administration’s Abraham Accords, which restored Israel’s relations with numerous Arab nations, to include Saudi Arabia. However, there is no indication of a breakthrough on that front in the near future.
Although the survey indicated that most Americans consider Israel to be a friend rather than an adversary, it also found that Americans are divided on whether Israel is a country with whom the United States shares shared interests and values.
According to the study, around four in ten Americans see Israel as a partner with whom the US should engage, but they also believe the country does not share US interests and values. Only approximately three out of ten people believe Israel is an ally who shares US interests. Republicans (44%) are more inclined than Democrats (25%) to describe Israel as a partner with common ideals. Approximately one in every ten Americans described Israel as a foe or adversary of the United States.
The United States pays more than $3 billion in military and other support to Israel each year, and the strong alliance has survived despite numerous policy disagreements, most notably over Iran and Palestinian treatment.
In general, 61% of Americans disagree of Biden’s handling of the Israeli-Palestinian problem, while 35% favor. This figure was somewhat lower than Biden’s total approval rating.
Many Americans see no reason for the United States to shift its stance on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Approximately four in ten Americans, or 44%, believe the United States provides about the correct amount of assistance to Israel in the war, while 27% believe it is too supportive of Israel and 23% believe it is not supportive enough.
Approximately the same number, 42%, believe the Palestinians receive adequate help, with 30% wanting more and 21% wanting less.
Republicans, 34%, want the US to provide more help to Israel, although somewhat more (40%) believe the current level is adequate. Only 11% of Democrats believe the United States should provide additional help to Israel. According to the study, over half of Democrats believe the present level is “about right,” while just about a third believe the US is overly supportive of Israel.
Biden is likely to underline America’s unwavering support to Israel’s security in the volatile Middle East during their meeting on Wednesday. At the same time, his administration is seeking to grant Netanyahu one of his biggest requests: admission to the US Visa Waiver Program, which would allow Israelis to enter the US without a visa for a limited time.
Deadline Looms for Israel to Ensure Equal Treatment of Americans Under Visa Program
To be eligible for the program, Americans, including Palestinian-Americans, must be treated equally under US law. Israel has taken many efforts to guarantee that all Americans entering Israel are treated equally, but it only has until the end of September to demonstrate that the standards have been satisfied. Otherwise, Israel will have to reapply for the program during the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
According to the AP-NORC survey, over two-thirds of Americans are neutral on the Palestinian conflict: 37% empathize with neither Israel nor the Palestinians, while 29% sympathize with both equally.
A comparable majority, 58%, indicated they support but do not oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state, while 22% support it and 15% oppose it.
The survey of 1,165 individuals was conducted from August 10 to 14, with a sample taken from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is intended to be representative of the U.S. population. For all respondents, the margin of sampling error is 3.8 percentage points.
Source: ABC News