American supporters of Israel march in Jerusalem
American supporters of Israel march in JerusalemAbir Sultan/Flash90

American support for Israel has reached an all-time high, a report by Gallup shows, driven in large part by growing support among Republicans, as the partisan divide continues to grow.

According to a Gallup report Tuesday, based on a survey conducted from February 1st to February 10th, American support for the Jewish state rose to the highest level ever recorded since Gallup began tracking the issue in 1988.

When asked whether they sympathized more with Israelis, Palestinian Arabs, or both equally, 64% of respondents said they sympathized with Israel. A similar percentage of respondents expressed support for Israel in 1991, following the Gulf War, during which Israel was hit by Iraqi Scud missiles, and in 2013.

The level of support for Israel has ranged from a low of 37% in 1988, to a high of 64% in 1991, 2013, and 2018.

Support for Palestinian Arabs has increased marginally since 1988, rising from 15% the first year the survey was conducted to 19% in 2018. In 2007, the number of Americans who said they sympathized with the Palestinian Authority over Israel peaked at 20%.

The general increase in support among Americans for Israel has been fueled largely an increase in support among Republicans, with a noticeable partisan gap emerging over the past two decades.

While Republicans were only slightly more likely than Americans in general to say they sympathized with Israel in 2001 – 59% of self-identified Republicans, compared to 51% of Americans generally – by 2018 Republicans had opened up a 23-point lead, with 87% of Republicans supporting Israel over the PA, compared to 64% of all Americans.

When compared to Democrats, the gap is even wider. Forty-two percent of self-identified Democrats backed Israel over Palestinian Arabs in 2001 – in the midst of the Second Intifada – 17 points less than Republicans and 9 points less than independents.

In 2005, Democrat support for Israel declined a point to 41%, the lowest point recorded among Democrats, while support among Republicans climbed to 73%.

Democrats registered their highest level of support for Israel in 2014, when 58% of self-identified Democrats said they favored Israel over the PA. By 2018, that figure had fallen to 49% - but still higher than in 1988, when the poll was first conducted.

This year marks the widest recorded partisan gap, with Republican support for Israel 38-points higher than Democratic support. Independents were slightly less likely than Americans on average to support Israel, with 59% saying they backed the Jewish state over the PA in 2018.

The Gallup poll also shows that Americans increasingly believe the US must place greater pressure on the Palestinian Authority more than Israel to make peace.

Fully 50% of Americans say more pressure should be placed on the PA, compared to 27% who said more pressure ought to be placed on Israel to reach a final status agreement – a significant shift from a decade ago.

Americans also view Israel more favorably now than at any time since 1992. Seventy-four percent of Americans say they view Israel very or mostly favorably, compared to 21% who view the Palestinian Authority favorably.

Israel’s highest favorability rating came in 1991, in the immediate aftermath of the Gulf War, when 79% of Americans said they viewed the Jewish state favorably – a 30-point increase over 1989.

The Palestinian Authority’s favorability ratings have remained relatively stable, with 21% saying they viewed the PA favorably when the question was first asked in 2000. That number peaked at 27% in 2005, before falling to an all-time low of 11% in 2006.

Broken down by party identification, 83% of Republicans view Israel favorably, while just 12% view the PA favorably.

Democrats are nearly two-and-a-half times as likely to view the PA favorably, with 27% expressing a positive opinion of the PA. Twenty-one percent of independents also view the PA favorably.

The partisan gap is narrower in terms of favorability ratings for Israel than in terms of support, with 72% of independents and 64% of Democrats holding favorable opinions of Israel, compared to 83% of Republicans.