US public support for Israel drops; majority backs ceasefire in Gaza

Published November 16, 2023
A view of makeshift shelters and tents set up for displaced Palestinians in Khan Yunis.—AFP
A view of makeshift shelters and tents set up for displaced Palestinians in Khan Yunis.—AFP

WASHINGTON: US public support for Israel’s assault in Gaza is eroding and most Americans think Israel should call a ceasefire to a crisis that has ballooned into a humanitarian catastrophe, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Some 32 per cent of respondents in the two-day opinion poll, which closed on Tuesday, said “the US should support Israel” when asked what role the United States should take in the ongoing crisis. That was down from 41pc who said the US should back Israel in a poll conducted Oct 12-13.

The share saying “the US should be a neutral mediator” rose to 39pc in the new poll from 27pc a month earlier. Four per cent of respondents in the poll said the US should support Palestinians and 15pc said the US shouldn’t be involved at all, both similar readings to a month ago.

68pc Americans call for truce, 43pc oppose sending weapons to Israel

The drop in US support, seen in the new poll among both Democrats and Republicans and especially among older respondents, follows weeks of heavy Israeli bombardment against Gazans.

Some 68pc of respondents in the poll said they agreed with a statement that “Israel should call a ceasefire and try to negotiate.” About three-quarters of Democrats and half of Republicans in the poll supported the idea of a ceasefire, putting them at odds with Democratic President Joe Biden who has rebuffed calls from Arab leaders, including Palestinians, to pressure Israel into a ceasefire.

In a potentially worrisome sign for Israel, just 31pc of poll respondents said they supported sending Israel weapons, while 43pc opposed the idea. The rest said they were unsure. Support for sending Israel weapons was strongest among Republicans, while roughly half of Democrats were opposed.

By comparison, 41pc of people answering the poll said they backed sending weapons to Ukraine in its fight against a nearly 21-month-old Russian invasion, compared to 32pc who were opposed and the rest unsure. When it came to Ukraine, support for sending weapons was stronger among Democrats.

While most moderate Democrats in Congress have long supported military assistance to Israel, some progressives in Biden’s own party have started to question whether there should be greater scrutiny as well as conditions attached to such aid.

US officials have cautioned that funding for Ukraine military aid is running low as the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-majority Senate remain at odds over the Biden administrations request for billions of dollars more in assistance to Kyiv.

The poll was conducted online and nationwide, gathering responses from 1,006 US adults. It has a credibility interval, a margin of precision, of about four percentage points.

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2023

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