US Public Divides along Party Lines on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

November 20, 2018

By: Craig Kafura, Assistant Director, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy; Dina Smeltz, Senior Fellow, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy; Allison Von Borstel, Intern, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy

In the past year, the Trump administration has moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, ended aid to the United Nation agency supporting Palestinian refugees, and announced the closure of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington, DC. These actions, heavily criticized by the international community, are a dramatic shift from past US policy. The 2018 Chicago Council Survey, conducted after the US embassy move to Jerusalem but before the other actions, finds that the American public has generally not formed an opinion about the embassy relocation and would prefer that the US not take a side in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. A just completed Chicago Council-University of Texas survey of foreign policy opinion leaders shows that leaders have stronger views. Republican opinion leaders approve of the embassy relocation, while solid majorities of Democratic and Independent leaders disapprove.

Key Findings:

  • Majorities of Americans across partisan lines describe the US-Israel relationship as important to US security (78%) and the US economy (72%).
  • A slim majority of Americans have not heard enough to voice an opinion on the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem closely; the rest are evenly divided with 24 percent in favor and 23 percent opposed to the move. Among foreign policy opinion leaders, 58 percent of Republican leaders approve of the move versus 89 percent of Democrats who disapprove.
  • A majority of Americans (62%) continue to say that the US should not take sides in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Republicans (59%) say the US should take Israel’s side, 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 opposed (59%).
US Public Divides along Party Lines on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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