Israeli flag (file)
Israeli flag (file)Flash 90

Support for Israel among United States citizens is at a 23-year high of 72%, according to a new poll conducted by Gallup.

Israel was the Middle Eastern country with the highest “favorable” rating by far, with Egypt in a distant second place with 45% support. Egypt was followed by Saudi Arabia, which 35% of Americans viewed favorably.

The Palestinian Authority enjoyed a “favorable” rating of just 19%, while Iran’s rating was at 12%.

The poll found an unusually strong generation difference regarding opinions of Israel, with older respondents most likely to have a favorable view of Israel. Among those age 55 and older, 81% had a favorable view of Israel, while among those age 18-34 support for Israel was at 64%.

Support for the Palestinian Authority stood at 16% among those age 55 and above, and at 24% among those ages 18-34.

The results indicate a trend that is likely to have a significant impact on U.S. President Barack Obama’s treatment of Israel, former Israeli ambassador to America Yoram Ettinger told Arutz Sheva.

Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry have been turning up the pressure on Israel in an attempt to achieve results in talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. According to Ettinger, their approach has caused upset, and Obama’s talk of creating a PA state has largely been met with apathy.

With elections for the Congress and Senate planned for late 2014, Obama is likely to back down in the face of strong public support for Israel, Ettinger predicted. Victory for the Republican party in November would make Obama a “lame duck” president for his last two years in office, he explained; Obama will seek to avoid that scenario by playing to voters.

American support for Israel has grown in recent years as Americans increasingly understand the challenges Israel is facing, Ettinger said. A combination of anti-American sentiment in the Arab world, the threat of Islamist terrorism within the United States, and cooperation between Israel and the U.S. on economic and defense-related issues has improved Israel’s image despite disagreements between Israeli and U.S. leaders regarding Israel-PA talks, he said.

Americans also see Israel as sharing a moral and cultural Judeo-Christian heritage, according to Ettinger.