Just 12 percent of Israelis see Obama as more supportive


(JTA) — In a survey, 12 percent of Israelis said President Obama supports Israel more than he does the Palestinians.

In the poll conducted this month, 40 percent of respondents said he was more supportive of the Palestinians and 38 percent said he was even handed.

The Aug. 9-15 poll, conducted jointly by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, tracks peace process support in both communities.

Among Palestinians, 64 percent believed Obama supported Israel more, 7 percent said he favored Palestinians and 23 percent said he was even-handed.

More Israelis believe that U.S. assistance to Israel will remain unaffected by disagreements over peace negotiations and settlement than do not: 51 percent say the level of assistance will not change and 36 percent believe it will.

The poll uncovered a possible sticking point for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal for a demilitarized Palestinian state. Among Palestinians, 76 percent were opposed to a demilitarized state while 24 percent were supportive; among Israelis, the numbers were 56 percent in favor and 40 percent were opposed.

"Unlike the refugees and Jerusalem components, this issue has not received due attention in public discourse, as it should, since it may become a major stumbling block in the efforts to reach a settlement," the pollsters wrote in their release issued Thursday.

The recent congress of Fatah, the mainstream Palestinian faction leading negotiations with Israel, left Israelis skeptical of peace prospects; the congress’ resolutions committed to continued "resistance" to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and accused Israel of murdering Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader who died in 2004. In the wake of the congress, 27 percent of Israelis felt they had a partner for peace and 59 percent did not.

A majority of Israelis opposed the Arab League peace initiative, first promoted by Saudi Arabia in 2002; according to the initiative, Israel would receive full peace with every Arab nation in exchange for a return to the 1967 borders and a fair resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue. Among Israelis, 54 percent oppose the plan and 40 percent support it; among Palestinians, 64 percent support it and 34 percent oppose it.

Majorities in both communities opposed a resolution of the refugee problem which would allow for unfettered settlement in a Palestinian state, and residency in other countries, including Israel, that would be decided by those countries. Among Palestinians, 61 percent were opposed and 37 percent were supportive; among Israelis, 58 percent were opposed and 36 percent were opposed.

Similar majorities opposed a formula for sharing Jerusalem that would grant Israel West Jerusalem and post-1967 Jewish neighborhoods as well as control of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and its Western Wall. Palestinians opposed it 68 percent to 31 percent; Israelis opposed the plan 62 percent to 34 percent.

The poll canvassed 1,270 Palestinians in face-to-face interviews and 600 Israelis in phone interviews; the margin of error for Palestinian results is 3 percentage points and for Israeli results, 4.5 percent.

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