Israel One of Two Countries with Higher Trump Favorability Than Obama

The Pew Research Center released extensive public opinion polling on Monday showing Israel and Russia as the only two countries where President Donald Trump has higher favorability marks than former President Barack Obama. Israeli confidence in Trump is currently at 56% compared to 49% at the end of Obama’s term. At the same time, the Israeli favorability view of the United States has remained consistent at 81% from 2015-2017.

The nonpartisan US think tank conducted a comprehensive survey of 37 nations and included questions asking respondents about President Trump’s most controversial policies. In contrast to Israel and Russia, the favorability ratings of the US President declined sharply across Western Europe such as Sweden (minus 83%) and the Netherlands (minus 75%).

Regarding Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the border with Mexico, Israel was the country with the second highest number of backers for the proposal worldwide. In January, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted his support for the Mexican wall, provoking a crisis with many Democrats. Israeli support for the Mexican barrier could also stem from the perceived success of the Israeli wall on the Egyptian border to reduce African migration and the West Bank barrier, which is said to have played a significant role in deterring a number of Palestinian terror attacks.

The most dramatic break with Trump was over the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords. 69% of Israelis opposed the administration’s decision with a mere 19% backing the initiative. Jerusalem is one of the signers of the international environment agreement. While across the Middle East a vast majority of populations object to the US President’s move to restrict immigration from Muslim majority states, 63% of Israelis approve of Trump’s policy. Similar to other nations across the globe, support for Trump’s policies receive more backing from the Israeli right.

Jordan and Israel are the only two countries surveyed where a majority of the population approve of Trump’s campaign promise to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, also known as the JCPOA, with Israel registering the highest mark at 67% approval. Obama’s disapproval ratings in Israel likely increased given his wholehearted backing of the JCPOA.

In another global outlier, Israel is the country that most strongly believes that its ties with Washington will improve during the Trump administration (65%), with only 8% thinking that relations will decline. Despite the high marks for Trump, German Chancellor Andrea Merkel still received a slightly higher confidence from Israelis over Trump when it comes to “doing the right thing in international affairs.” Out of the Chinese, US, German and Russian leaders, President Vladimir Putin was given the lowest score by Israelis at a mere 28%, quite possibly due to Moscow’s continued support for hostile actors in Israel’s neighborhood.  

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