An election-night poll has found American voters overwhelmingly opposed to stationing U.S. troops on the Golan Heights as part of any peace agreement between Israel and Syria.
Commissioned by the Middle East Quarterly, the telephone survey of 1,000 voters Nov. 8 found 64 percent opposed to American troops on the Golan and 18 percent in favor. The remainder were undecided or refused to answer.
Another of the survey’s four questions showed that 70 percent of the respondents believe that President Clinton should be required to obtain congressional approval before sending troops.
The poll comes as opponents of an American presence on the Golan Heights continue to press for a congressional debate on the issue.
With the Republican takeover in Congress following last week’s elections, it is not clear where the majority of legislators stand on this issue.
Both Israeli and American officials have suggested that it is likely that any peace accord between Israel and Syria would require a peacekeeping or monitoring mission by U.S. forces.
According to Daniel Pipes, editor of the Middle East Quarterly, the poll will “help both sides so they are no longer speaking in the abstract.”
“The goal is to get information and not prejudice the debate,” said Pipes, who is also director of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum, which publishes the Middle East Quarterly.
Pipes said his think tank has not taken a stand on the merits of sending U.S. troops to the Golan.
The phrasing of one of the four questions drew criticism from some pro-Israel activists who support the notion of U.S. troops on the Golan as a requirement for securing any peace accord between Israel and Syria.
The question asks whether respondents would be more or less likely to favor U.S. troops on the Golan “recalling previous American experiences with peacekeeping missions.”
Some critics suggested that the phrasing moved voters to think of this year’s Somalia mission, during which U.S. troops were killed.
But Pipes argued that the question was not leading. By not specifying any missions in the question, he said, voters were left to draw their own conclusions.
In any case, the results of the question – with 64.8 percent opposed and 16.5 percent in favor – were similar to the more general question about troops in the Golan.
The national survey was conducted by telephone on election night by the Washington firm Fabrizio, McLaughlin and Associates and has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.