Poll: Americans Prefer the US Not Take Sides in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Despite White House Actions

November 20, 2018

With Israel and Palestinian factions settling into a controversial new ceasefire after the biggest outbreak of violence since 2014, a majority of Americans do not want the United States to take sides in the Israel-Palestinian conflict according to a new report from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Following a year of dramatic shifts in US policy towards Israel, namely the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the report, “US Public Divides along Party Lines on Israel-Palestinian Conflict,” also found a slim majority of Americans have not heard enough to voice an opinion yet on this decision. However, a just-completed survey of foreign policy opinion leaders by the Chicago Council and the University of Texas found experts have strong opinions based on their self-identified partisan affiliation. Republican opinion leaders approve of the embassy relocation, while solid majorities of Democratic and Independent leaders disapprove.

Key findings from the survey report include:

  • Majorities of Americans across partisan lines describe the US-Israel relationship as important to US security (78%) and the US economy (72%).
  • A majority of Americans (62%) continue to say that the US should not take sides in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. However, these views split sharply along partisan lines. Six in ten Republicans (59%) say the US should take Israel’s side, an all-time high in Republican views in Council surveys, while majorities of Democrats (75%) and Independents (68%) say the US should not take either side.
  • While support for establishing an independent Palestinian state is at its highest level in Chicago Council polling since 1994, there are sharp divisions between Democrats who favor it (62%) and Republicans who oppose it (59%).

For more findings, graphics, and methodology, download the full report here.


This report is based on the results of a survey commissioned by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. The 2018 Chicago Council Survey, a project of the Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy, is the latest effort in a series of wide-ranging surveys on American attitudes toward US foreign policy. The 2018 Chicago Council Survey is made possible by the generous support of the support of the Crown family, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the US-Japan Foundation, the Korea Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

The survey was conducted from July 12 to 31, 2018, among a representative national sample of 2,046 adults. The margin of sampling error for the full sample is ±2.37, including a design effect of 1.1954. The margin of error is higher for partisan subgroups or for partial-sample items.

Additional results come from the 2018 Chicago Council-University of Texas Opinion Leaders Survey. The leadership survey was conducted August 2 to October 16, 2018 among 588 foreign policy opinion leaders from executive branch agencies, Congress, academia, think tanks, the media, interest groups and NGOs, religious institutions, labor unions, and business. To more closely reflect the composition of previous Chicago Council opinion leader surveys, these data have been weighted by target sample group to reflect the proportional representation of leader groupings within previous leader samples. More results, and details on the survey, will be forthcoming.