A new survey of Israelis by the New America Foundation reveals “a very different picture from the narrative that has taken hold regarding Israeli attitudes toward President Obama and American efforts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
Despite repeated media reports touting a “4 percent Obama approval rating” and arguments that the United States has lost the Israeli public’s support for renewed peace efforts, Israelis actually demonstrate a much more supportive and nuanced view of President Obama, and there is solid backing for an American-sponsored final status agreement along the lines of where the parties left off nine years ago at Taba and in the recent Olmert-Abbas negotiations. The survey also shows that Prime Minister Netanyahu has a great deal of political space to sign a peace agreement with the Palestinians, including within his own Likud party.
Introducing the results at an event this morning, pollster Jim Gerstein, who led the survey, said that Israelis “look upon Obama’s election as a good thing, good for the world,” but also that while Israelis by and large recognize that a balanced U.S. approach to the conflict is necessary, “they still want [the U.S] in their corner.” Obama does, however, have “a net positive favorability” in Israel, better than Israel’s own foreign minister and defense minister, Gerstein said.
Commenting on the survey, New America Foundation foreign policy director Steve Clemmons said that the idea of “some zero sum tug of war for support for Netanyahu versus Obama, for security versus peace negotiations, is a false tension that doesn’t exist in these poll results.”
As to President Obama’s oft-touted (by conservatives) 4% approval rating among Israelis, according to Gil Tamari, Washington Bureau Chief of Israel’s TV10, “this was not a story in Israel. It was born here in Washington, was raised here, and now hopefully will die here.”