TEL AVIV – Democratic sympathies lie with the Palestinians almost as much as with Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Republican support for the Jewish state nearly three times that of the Democrats, a poll released Tuesday found.
The survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center, showed that 27% of Democrats sympathize more with Israel, while 25% sympathize more with the Palestinians.
Among Republicans, those numbers were 79% and 6%, respectively.
The partisan divide in support for Israel was the greatest in 40 years, the poll said, when 49% of Republicans and 44% of Democrats showed support for Israel over the Palestinians.
Since last year, the share of Democrats responding that they don’t know which side they sympathize with has increased from 17% to 25%, the poll showed.
Since 2001, Democrat support for Israel fell from 38% to 27%, while among Republicans it rose from 50% to 79% – pointing to the issue becoming increasingly partisan.
Sallai Meridor, who served as Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. a decade ago, said the poll was “concerning and saddening,” especially in light of the common values shared between the two countries.
“I think it’s a very concerning trend,” the Times of Israel quoted him as saying. “For Israel, the bipartisan support of the American people is a strategic asset.”
“There are many reasons for Democrats to see in Israel a mirror of their deep values and beliefs,” he said, noting Israel’s record on free speech, a universal health care system and support for gay rights.
Americans’ views on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are also partisan, the survey found.
52% of Republicans said they have a favorable impression of the prime minister, while only 18% of Democrats said the same – less than the 39% of Democrats who have an unfavorable impression of him.
While 46% of Democrats said Trump is too favorable towards Israel, only 21% said he is “striking the right balance” between the two sides. 79% of Republicans responded that Trump is striking the right balance.
The poll also found that younger Americans are less likely than older Americans to sympathize with Israel. Support for Israel also drops the more academic education one has. Men are more likely to support Israel than women, at 50% and 42% respectively.
Marc Zell, chairman of Republicans Overseas Israel, attributed the sharp views on Israel to the Democratic party’s swing to the left.
“Israel should be concerned about the fact that the Democratic Party has moved leftwards and is now adopting a lot of radical positions,” he said.
The survey was made up of 1,503 respondents and was conducted between January 10-15.