A new Wall Street Journal /NBC News poll confirms that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s popularity among Americans has grown since last August, when Israel fought Hamas in the Gaza War. Currently, 30% of Americans now view him positively, as opposed to 24% in August, despite apparent rising tensions between the Obama administration and the Prime Minister.
Democrats gave Netanyahu a 12% favorable rating, down from their paltry 13% in August, but GOP voters, likely because they trust Netanyahu’s view of Iran more than Obama’s rose-colored glasses, raised their support of the Prime Minister from 36% in August to 49% in the current poll.
Almost half of respondents–48%–disapproved of the idea of a foreign leader speaking to Congress without checking with the president, a question obviously prompted by Speaker of the House John Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu to speak without running it through the White House. Boehner’s invitation received 30% approval, and roughly 20% had no opinion.
But in a clear sign of how partisan the issue is, when the answer to that question was parceled into Democrats and Republicans, 47% of GOP voters approved, while 12% of Democrats approved.
Respondents approved of Israel at a rate of 47%. Only 17% disapproved of the Jewish state. Almost half of respondents said they had no knowledge of the Netanyahu-Boehner-Obama contretemps.
Netanyahu favors stronger sanctions on Iran, at the very least, to prevent the Iranians from developing a nuclear threat; the Obama administration thinks diplomacy will solve the problem. Those opposing Netanyahu’s speech contend that it is improper for him to speak so close to the Israeli election, scheduled for a few weeks after the speech.
The Wall Street Journal reported, “The White House has said the president wants to avoid the appearance of influencing that election.” Meanwhile, over a dozen of former staffers who worked on Obama’s campaigns are working for 270 Strategies, a consulting firm hired by Victory 2015, or V15, a group attempting to oust Netanyahu.