Obama would have overwhelming support from US public to allow UN establishment of Palestinian state

Shibley Telhami, photo by Dina Telhami

The other day we did a post on Jimmy Carter’s urging to President Obama, to recognize a Palestinian state before he changes addresses next January. All signs are that Obama will do nothing, and dither about it as he does. But Shibley Telhami’s latest polling for Brookings shows that criticism of Israel has burgeoned in the United States public during the last year, particularly among Democrats; and that if President Obama were to buck Israel at the United Nations, by sanctioning Israel for settlements, or allowing the U.N. to endorse the establishment of a Palestinian state, he would have broad popular support. Obama has political “cover,” Telhami said at Brookings in announcing his findings.

Some of those findings:

–Nearly 2/3 of Americans would not oppose the creation of a Palestinian state by the United Nations.

When asked what they think the U.S. should do as a member of the UN Security Council if the UN considers a plan to endorse the establishment of a Palestinian state, 32% say that the U.S. should abstain from voting, 31% say that the U.S. should vote against endorsing the establishment of a Palestinian state, and 34% believe the U.S. should vote in favor of endorsing the establishment of a Palestinian state.

–Similar numbers would not oppose a resolution opposing settlements.

Nearly 2/3 of Americans support or do not oppose the Obama administration sponsoring a United Nations resolution to end Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank before he leaves office. A plurality of Americans (40%) either strongly or somewhat support this. Twenty-three percent of Americans neither oppose nor support and 33% either strongly or somewhat oppose this resolution.

–Democrats overwhelmingly support such action.

Sixty-five percent of Democrats either strongly or somewhat support his backing a resolution against settlements. Seventy percent of Democrats support Obama backing a UN resolution outlining the “parameters for ending” the conflict.

–Democratic attitudes re sanctions and a Palestinian state are shifting rapidly.

Compared with last year (November 2015), the percentage of Democrats who support the establishment of a Palestinian state has increased from 39% to 51%.

In November 2016, a majority of Democrats (60%) supported imposing some economic sanctions or taking more serious action compared with 49% in November 2015. And overall the number supporting sanctions has gone from 38 percent to 46 percent in the last two years.

–The numbers are highest among the young: 51 percent of Americans under 34 years old support sanctions against Israel for settlements.

–Democrats say Israel has too much influence.

55 percent of Democrats say that Israel has “too much influence” over US policy, up from 49 percent a year ago. The overall US number is 39 percent believing Israel has too much influence. Only 9 percent of Dems say Israel has too little influence. 35 percent say it’s just right.

–Democrats are ambivalent about which side the U.S. should be on.

17 percent say the Trump administration should lean toward Israel, but 11 percent say toward Palestinians. In his public appearance at Brookings, Telhami said that these numbers are rapidly closing on one another, and are surprising.

–Most Democrats believe Israel is a burden to the U.S.

Less than a quarter of Republicans agree that Israel is a burden (24%) whereas more than half of Democrats do (55%).

And by the way, US Congressman Keith Ellison is actually more conservative than the Democratic base!

That’s a key point because the Democratic Party base is becoming very critical of Israel, even as the Republican voters get stronger for Israel. Haim Saban knows that. He’s smearing Keith Ellison at the Brookings Institution as an “anti-Semite” even as Ellison is in touch with the base.

Saban is a giant donor; no wonder Tamara Cofman Wittes of Brookings has had nothing to say about this news. Neera Tanden at Center for American Progress had the same straddle to make a year ago when she kissed up to Benjamin Netanyahu at the Democratic thinktank, in the wake of his trying to upend President Obama’s Iran Deal, all so she could attract a new rightwing Zionist donor. This morning at Brookings, Haim Saban kissed up to Benjamin Netanyahu, and said he had “trashed” critical questions from gathered journalists. Maybe the Democratic Party needs to get rid of the gazillionaires.

P.S. My summaries of Telhami’s findings included phrasings by me and Brookings, so I dispensed with quotation marks.

Thanks to Annie Robbins.