An overwhelming majority of Republican voters, including Donald Trump’s primary supporters, sympathize more with Israel over the Palestinians in the Middle East conflict, while Democratic voters, especially Bernie Sanders supporters are less likely to side with Israel, a new poll shows.
According to a Pew Research poll, conducted in April and published early Thursday morning, 75 percent of Republicans say they sympathize more with Israel, while just 7 percent say they sympathize more with the Palestinians. That sentiment is shared by 77 percent of Trump’s primary supporters, with only 9 percent who say they sympathize with neither side.
Trump came under fire in February after he suggested he would be “neutral” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to broker peace negotiations between the two parties. But he has since clarified his stance, now stressing the need for a peace settlement with an emphasis on his deal-making skills.
“A lot of people have gone down in flames trying to make that deal, so I prefer to be the neutral guy,” Trump explained in an interview with Ami Magazine, a New York-based Orthodox Jewish weekly, published on Wednesday. “I don’t want to say whose fault it is; I don’t think that helps.”
At the same time, Trump criticized President Barack Obama for constantly applying pressure on Israel. “President Obama thinks that putting pressure on Israel will bring about peace, but the exact opposite has taken place. The Palestinians have refused to come to the negotiating table,” Trump told Ami. “When the United States stands firmly with Israel, the chances for peace really increase. That’s what will happen when Donald Trump is president.”
The Pew Research survey showed that although a plurality of Democrats sympathizes more with Israel than with the Palestinians, that margin is much narrower (43 percent vs. 29 percent). The Democrats’ differences over Israel and the Palestinians are reflected in the way Sanders and Clinton’s supporters view the situation. More Clinton primary supporters sympathize with Israel (47%) than the Palestinians (27%), while Sanders supporters are statistically divided, with 39% sympathizing more with the Palestinians and 33% more with Israel. “The share of liberal Democrats who say they sympathize more with the Palestinians is now higher than it has been at any point in the last 15 years (40%),” the pollsters note.