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Poll: Americans Prefer Netanyahu to Obama

New poll finds that Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel are more popular among Americans than their own president.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 11/11/2011, 5:12 AM

Netanyahu and Obama
Netanyahu and Obama
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Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is enjoying more popularity in the United States than President Barack Obama, a new poll indicates.

The results of the poll, which was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, were published on Thursday by Israel’s Channel 10 News. It involved 800 U.S. citizens who were asked to answer several questions related to Israel, the United States and the Palestinian Authority.

Netanyahu received an average score of 52.3 in the poll, compared to only 51.5 which Obama received. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas scored 26.8 while his rival Hamas received an average score of 19.5. The Lebanon-based Hizbullah terror group received an average score of 20.1.

Most of the respondents – 60% – said they believe Netanyahu is making efforts to achieve a peace agreement with the PA. Of these, 11% said that the Prime Minister is making enormous efforts to achieve peace.

Conversely, 52% of respondents thought that Abbas does not aspire to reach peace with Israel through negotiations. Of these, 15% said that Abbas has been making no attempt to negotiate with Israel and 39% said that Abbas is making efforts to reach a peace agreement.

The poll also found that Israel’s popularity has increased among Americans and is at its highest since 2007. The main factor which led to the increase in support for Israel was Abbas’ unilateral statehood bid at the United Nations in September. A majority of respondents, 60%, expressed warm feelings toward the Jewish state, while only 15% said they had cool feelings towards Israel.

The sympathy towards Israel increased more among supporters of Obama’s Democratic party. When asked if the United States should continue to support Israel or whether it should support the PA, 48% of respondents said that Israel should be supported, while only 13% said that the PA should be supported.

There was a slight drop in support for Israel among Republican supporters, despite the fact that the Republican party is generally considered to be friendlier to Israel. There was still a majority even among Republicans, however, with 77% supporting Israel, down from 81% in a poll conducted last July.

The poll was published just several days after it was revealed that in a recent open microphone incident, Obama appeared to show frustration with Netanyahu.

In a recent conversation between Obama and French President Nikolas Sarkozy, the latter said about Netanyahu, “I cannot stand him. He is a liar.”

Obama reportedly replied, “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day!”

The White House has been trying to stifle diplomatic fallout from the incident. On Wednesday, a top White House official insisted Obama had a good relationship with the Israeli prime minister.

The Obama-Sarkozy incident was met with criticism from some members of the Republican party, who have long been critical of the president’s policy towards Israel.

GOP nomination contender Mitt Romney said on Wednesday that Obama had proven his disdain for the ‘special relationship’ between Israel and the United States.

“President Obama’s derisive remarks about Israel’s prime minister confirm what any observer would have gleaned from his public statements and actions toward our longstanding ally, Israel,” Romney said.

“At a moment when the Jewish state is isolated and under threat, we cannot have an American president who is disdainful of our special relationship with Israel. We have here yet another reason why we need new leadership in the White House.”

Republican Senator John McCain, who ran against Obama in 2008, was also highly critical of the exchange between the two leaders, saying Obama's remarks reflected his administration's attitude towards Israel.