Trump better for Israel than Biden, majority says: poll

Only 35% think the U.S.-Israeli relationship is on the right footing, the peace process ranks last as a foreign policy priority, and the people are split over how to counter Iran.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A wide-ranging poll released Wednesday showed that the Israeli public is not nearly as enamored of U.S. President Joe Biden as they were of former American leader Donald Trump.

Fifty-three percent of the 700 respondents in the Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies survey said that Biden is worse for the country than Trump was. Just under 11% believe Israel is better off with him leading the U.S., but only 9.9% of those positive reviews came from Jewish Israelis. Over a third (36%) think that there’s no real difference between the two administrations.

The overall U.S.-Israeli relationship got a score of 6.46 out of 10, while last year, with Trump as president, it was 8.05. In addition, only 35% called the current ties “good,” when last year 67% thought it was positive.

Although the U.S. is Israel’s most important ally, strengthening the relationship did not take top billing among foreign policy priorities. That was reserved for the climate crisis in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean, as it received an average 7.5 score.

The peace process was last on the scale, and there were no overwhelming numbers in either direction regarding what the respondents thought is best to do with either the Palestinian Authority (PA) or the Hamas-run Gaza Strip

A plurality of 38% believe Israel should not be involved in the PA’s economic and political problems. Over a quarter (28%) think Israel should try to reinforce the PA, but only 13% believe it would be better to weaken Ramallah. On the other hand, about half say that it is not a “positive development” for Israeli and PA ministers to meet, while just under a third (32%) say it is.

As for Gaza, 31% were of the opinion that Israel should help the PA in its desire to regain control of the coastal enclave. Thirteen percent want the government to negotiate with Hamas instead on some kind of long-term agreement, and over a fifth of the respondents (22%) think it’s a good idea to have the international community help rehabilitate Gaza economically.

Very few think the current coalition is handling Gaza well – only 9%. In general, the government’s handling of foreign affairs is getting a barely passing grade of 5.29 out of 10.

In terms of what all recent Israeli governments have called Israel’s biggest strategic threat – Iran – Israelis seem to be quite divided as to what to do. While 34% think the best strategy is to strengthen ties with other Arab countries in order to work together against Tehran, 31% prefer a focus on the military option. A mere 17% support renewing the nuclear deal.