Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL-19), who will soon leave his post to take on the presidency of the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation has just sent this morning an important note to Congressional Members about a New America Foundation poll of Israeli public attitudes yesterday.
New Israeli Poll Shows Strong Support for President Obama And Middle East Peace Process
I wanted to bring to your attention the following poll released by the New America Foundation on December 10, 2009, focusing on Israeli public attitudes towards President Obama and his administration, U.S. efforts to resolve the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, and other pertinent policy issues facing Israelis. The New America Foundation poll can be found at the following website.
Over the last several months, there have been many articles suggesting that President Obama’s efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and his robust Middle East engagement have been rejected by the Israeli public. There have also been reports suggesting U.S.-Israel relations have been damaged, and that President Obama favorability rating in Israeli is at 4%. Given the important polling information released by the New America Foundation this week, nothing could be further from the truth.
After reviewing the New America Foundation’s national survey of 1,000 Israelis it is clear that there is greater support among the Israeli public for President Obama and American efforts to move the Israeli-Palestinian peace process forward than previously reported. These poll numbers suggest the Israeli public is willing to move the peace process forward with its ally, the United States, and under the right circumstances. It also suggests that President Obama has a unique window of opportunity to directly engage the Israeli public to pursue a course of peace in cooperation with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. It is my hope that President Obama will seize this opportunity and strongly consider visiting Israel and speak directly to the Israeli public, laying out his agenda for peace, security and prosperity in the Middle East and his strong support for U.S.-Israel relations.
According to the New American Foundation Poll, President Obama has a 41% favorable / 37% unfavorable rating among Israelis. His unfavorable rating is only four points higher than the unfavorable rating for George W. Bush, who is routinely characterized as very popular among Israelis. A majority of Israelis (55%) believes Obama is honest and trustworthy and 52% believe Obama will strengthen America’s standing in the world.
Additionally, the poll reports that by a 65% to 31% percent margin, Israelis believe that the United States is the only powerful country that Israel can count on in the world today. Further, they do not believe Israel will be able to build alliances with other powers if relations with the U.S. ever deteriorate. According to the poll, if President Obama were to put forward a peace plan based on the previous Taba talks, such a plan would receive the support of a majority of Israelis if Prime Minister Netanyahu is on board (53% to 45%), while the public is evenly split (48%) if Prime Minister Netanyahu rejects the plan.
I strongly urge you to review the New America Foundation poll, which highlights an opportunity for President Obama and the United States to maintain and strengthen our efforts to promote Israeli-Arab peace over the coming weeks and months. This poll is a helpful reminder that the unbreakable bond shared by Americans and Israelis remains strong and that only through greater cooperation can we ensure peace, prosperity and security in the Middle East.
With best regards,
Member, US House of Representatives
— Steve Clemons