WASHINGTON (JTA) — Nearly half of Americans think the invitation to Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress was inappropriate, but more believe President Barack Obama should meet the Israeli prime minister in Washington.
The YouGov poll posted Wednesday showed that 47 percent of respondents said it was “inappropriate” for Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the House speaker, to invite Netanyahu to speak March 3 without first consulting with the White House. Thirty percent of respondents found it appropriate.
Still, 58 percent said Obama should meet with Netanyahu and 46 percent said their Congress member should attend.
Obama has said he will not meet with Netanyahu because of the proximity of Israeli elections, and a number of congressional Democrats, who also were not consulted, have said they will not attend the speech. Nineteen percent of respondents were opposed to an Obama-Netanyahu meeting and 24 percent said their representative should not attend the speech.
The survey of 1,000 adults was taken Feb. 4-8 and had a margin of error of 4.1 percent.
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) on Thursday became the third Jewish member of Congress to say he would not attend. Among the 28 Jewish members in Congress, 15 have said they will attend, although many of them regret the circumstances of the invitation.
A Times of Israel poll published this week showed 59 percent of Israelis registered an unfavorable opinion of Obama, while 33 percent were favorable to the president. Netanyahu registered 41 percent favorable and 54 percent unfavorable in the same poll.
Asked whether they trust “Obama to ensure that Iran does NOT receive a nuclear weapon,” 72 percent said no and 21 said yes. Boehner wants Netanyahu to speak to Congress in part to rebut Obama’s claims that nuclear talks now underway with Iran are the best path to keeping it from obtaining a weapon, and Netanyahu says that is his main mission in Washington, otherwise praising Obama for preserving a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
Only 10 percent of Israeli respondents, however, said Iran was their main concern heading into the March 17 election. Economic issues was the main concern, with 48 percent of respondents listing it as a top concern.
The Feb. 1-3 Times of Israel survey reached 824 Israeli voters and had a margin of error of 3.4 percent.