The research shows that despite increasing Democrat sympathies for Palestinians, Democrats continue to view Israel more favorably than the Palestinian Authority. Gallup interprets this to suggest that “while rank-and-file Democrats may want Palestinians’ needs addressed, they will want solutions that respect Israel’s needs as well.”
Why More American Sympathy for Palestinians?
Gallup shares two possible reasons for the increasing sympathy Democrats feel for Palestinians. The first could be due to the “escalation of Israeli-Palestinian hostilities over the past year, resulting in a high number of Palestinians killed.” The second could relate to Democrats’ “waning religiosity”, as previous research has shown that religious Americans are most likely to support Israelis.
However, while Democrat church membership has dropped 14 points between 2008‒2010 and 2018‒2020, Republican church membership has also dropped 10 points in the same time frame. Meanwhile, the United Nations has expressed alarm about 2022 being the deadliest year for Palestinians living in the West Bank since 2006.
Tor Wennesland, the U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process described to the U.N. Security Council in October 2022 the “intensity of violence in the occupied West Bank, including the high number of Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces, numerous armed attacks by Palestinians against Israelis, including killings, and [Israeli] settler violence.” He added: “I am appalled that children continue to be victims of violence.”
How Do Other Countries Compare?
The United States has long maintained the most pro-Israel foreign policy in the world. Gallup’s recent poll shows changing perspectives that may begin to change U.S. foreign policy in the future. How do other major global players feel about Israel and Palestine? The most recent European opinion poll on Israel-Palestine dates back to 2014; however, today’s general sentiment can be interpreted by looking at party support.
A February 2023 poll by Ipsos shows that most United Kingdom voters (51%) support the Labour Party. Labour Party affiliates have “almost always taken a pro-Palestine position when given the chance,” according to Middle East Monitor. However, the Party institution has avoided reflecting those views as strongly.
More than 58% of French voters voted Emmanuel Macron to the presidency in 2022. Macron has supported a two-state solution and opposes Israeli settlements, but he also disagrees with Amnesty International’s report that labels Israel as an apartheid state.
India was a strong supporter of the Palestinian liberation cause after the Nakba. However, since 1992, India has increased its ties with Israel. It is now supporting both groups: India even abstained from voting at the December 2022 United Nations General Assembly on a resolution that called for the International Court of Justice to offer legal consequences for Israel’s occupation and annexation of Palestinian territory. China has maintained its vocal support of Palestinians. It is unclear if the Indian and Chinese populations support their political leadership’s decisions.
Why Are So Many Palestinians Being Killed?
More than 9,000 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli forces in the West Bank alone since the beginning of 2022. More than 170 Palestinians, including more than 30 children, were killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2022; more than 29 Palestinians including 5 children were killed in January 2023. Between January 1 and February 26 of 2023, 64 Palestinians and 13 Israelis have been killed. Al Jazeera attacked the question head-on: Why are so many Palestinians being killed?
According to Al Jazeera, the increased violence can be explained by four factors:
- Increased tensions on the ground since Palestinians held popular protests in May 2021
- Protests against the forced displacements of Palestinian families living in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, leading to a war with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad armed groups in the blockaded Gaza Strip
- Israel’s military campaign “Break the Wave” and raids targeting alleged fighters, in which unarmed civilians and children are often killed
- A series of ‘individual attacks’ by Palestinians between March and May killing 19 people in Israel
The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, which was established in 2008 by supportive governments, leading human rights advocates, and five of the world’s top non-governmental organizations (Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group, Oxfam International, Refugees International, and the World Federalist Movement), has assessed the violence of 2022 to find Israel engages in “disproportionate violent attacks on Palestinians.” The Centre calls on Israel to lift its blockage on Gaza, cease illegal settlement-related activities, and end its apartheid policies.