Fewer in U.S. See Middle East Conflict as Critical Threat

Fewer in U.S. See Middle East Conflict as Critical Threat

The FINANCIAL -- Thirty-six percent of Americans say the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians poses a "critical threat" to U.S. interests, down from 45% in 2016 and the lowest percentage in Gallup's 14-year trend. Coincidentally, the percentage who say the conflict is an "important" but not critical threat has increased from 41% to 48%.

These data come from Gallup's annual World Affairs poll, conducted Feb 1-10, as U.S. tensions with North Korea and Russia garnered significant media attention and the Middle East conflict was not as widely covered

Despite Democrats and Republicans holding different views of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, both parties are equally likely (38%) to say the Israeli-Palestinian conflict poses a critical threat to American interests. For Democrats, this represents a modest six-percentage-point decline from 44% in 2016. However, among Republicans, this represents a 20-point decrease from the last time Gallup asked the question in 2016 and is the lowest in Gallup's trend.

More Continue to Favor Than Oppose Palestinian Statehood

A key discussion in any Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal is the establishment of a Palestinian state. Nearly half of U.S. adults (47%) say they support establishing an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, essentially unchanged from 45% last year. Roughly four in 10 Americans (39%) oppose the creation of an independent Palestinian state, little changed from 42% last year.

Americans' support for a Palestinian state has varied over the years since Gallup first asked about it in 1994, reaching a high of 58% in 2003. Those who favor it have always outnumbered those who oppose it.

Republicans and Democrats continue to hold opposing views on the issue. Fifty-eight percent of Democrats support the creation of an independent Palestinian state, little changed from 61% in 2017. Among Republicans, 38% support Palestinian statehood, up 13 points from 25% in 2017, though similar to previous levels, such as the 41% found in 2014.

Bottom Line

Fewer Americans see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a critical threat to U.S interests than at any other time in Gallup's trend. Rather, more see it as an important but not critical threat. The overall decline in Americans' perceptions that it is a critical threat has been largely driven by Republicans. There are several possible reasons for the steep drop, including increased media attention on other threats and the Trump administration's efforts to create what he calls the "ultimate deal" for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.