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The American public appears to be losing more patience with Israel's war in Gaza.
According to our latest survey, nearly 3 in 5 voters (59%) support calls for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war, up from 53% in mid-November. Increased backing for truce came from across the partisan spectrum, but notably from Republican voters, 53% of whom now support a cease-fire — up 11 percentage points over the past month.
The survey was conducted after fighting and casualties had intensified following the end of last month’s American-brokered humanitarian pause, which allowed for the release of some hostages. But as the death toll among Palestinian civilians climbs, the Biden administration is pressing Israel’s government to transition its war effort to a more limited military campaign against Hamas in Gaza.
Last week, President Joe Biden warned that public opinion toward Israel “can shift overshift” if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government doesn’t work harder to limit civilian casualties. While a shift in voters’ sentiment has been more gradual and not necessarily anti-Israel, Americans are far more likely to express equal sympathy for both Israelis and Palestinians than they were at the start of the conflict.
Voters’ Sympathy for Israelis Has Declined Since the Start of the Israel-Hamas War
Since early October, the share of voters who said they are more sympathetic toward the Israeli people has fallen from 41% to 33%, while the share who said they feel for both the Israelis and Palestinians equally has increased from 26% to 34%.
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The movement was largest among Democratic voters, which appears to have caused some political problems for Biden among swing-state voters, particularly the youngest ones. But even among Republican voters, who belong to a party that has traditionally worked to cast itself as a greater friend of Israel, under half (47%) said they’re more sympathetic with the Israelis, down from 55% at the start of the war.
The bottom line
For now, the bulk of the public (49%) is supportive of ongoing efforts to provide military aid such as weapons, training and troop support to Israel, but that figure is down from 53% in mid-October. Over the same period, the share of voters who said the United States should provide humanitarian assistance to Palestinisans has increased from 57% to 63%.
All of these data points suggest Biden is right that public opinion could shift on Israel — it’s already happening. This increases the urgency for Israel’s advocates on Capitol Hill to win passage of a war assistance package in the coming weeks when Congress returns from the holiday recess, and suggests Netanyahu may need to heed Biden’s calls to focus Israel’s war effort to maintain widespread support from his country’s closest ally.