US public support for Israel’s war in Gaza has dropped significantly over the past month and most Americans now believe Israel should agree to a ceasefire, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll.
The poll found that only 32 per cent agreed with the statement that the US “should support Israel,” which represents a drop of 9 per cent since the same question was asked one month ago.
Some 68 per cent of respondents in the poll said they agreed with a statement that “Israel should call a ceasefire and try to negotiate” — that number was made up of three-quarters of Democrats and half of Republicans.
Those numbers stand in stark contrast to the position of lawmakers on both sides of the political divide, most of whom have rejected calls for a ceasefire. The Biden administration refused those calls and instead supported “humanitarian pauses,” despite the killing of more than 11,000 Palestinians in one month, including more than 4,500 children. Only one US senator, Democrat Dick Durbin, has called for a ceasefire.
The US government is Israel’s strongest ally, providing almost unconditional political and material support for decades. The US gives Israel around $3.8bn a year in aid for its military and missile defence systems, and has given more than $130bn since Israel’s founding in 1948. Following the Hamas massacre of 1,200 people on 7 October, which sparked the latest Gaza conflict, president Joe Biden asked Congress to approve a further $14.3bn in funding.
The Reuters poll found that just 31 per cent of respondents supported sending Israel weapons, while 43 per cent were opposed.
Israel launched its war in Gaza in response to a massacre by Hamas in southern Israel that left 1,200 people dead. Israel responded by launching a war that has killed more than 11,000 Palestinians, including more than 4,500 children.
As the humanitarian crisis in Gaza has worsened, calls for a ceasefire have grown. The United Nations secretary general, Antonio Guterres, warned this week that Gaza was becoming a “graveyard for children”, and that “the unfolding catastrophe makes the need for a humanitarian ceasefire more urgent with every passing hour”.
The Biden administration has also faced calls for a ceasefire from hundreds of staffers, members of President Joe Biden’s campaign and Democratic Party employees, who signed a letter calling on him to “urgently demand a ceasefire.”
Dozens of State Department employees signed internal memos to Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressing their sharp disagreement with the administration’s approach to Israel’s military campaign. Several internal cables have urged Mr Biden to call for a ceasefire, according to The New York Times.
On Wednesday, 24 Democratic members of Congress wrote a letter to president Biden and secretary of state Antony Blinken pushing for “an immediate cessation of hostilities and the establishment of a robust bilateral ceasefire.”
In recent days, Israel has struck a number of hospitals and medical facilities across the densely populated Gaza Strip, which is home to 2.3 million people. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported that at least 521 people, including 16 medical workers, have been killed in 137 “attacks on health care,” and on Tuesday evening Israeli troops raided Gaza’s largest hospital.
Public support for Israel is generally higher in the US than most countries in the world, and that support has remained steadfast. But in recent years, the gap between support for Israel and Palestinians has narrowed. That “sympathy gap” stands at 23 points in favour of Israel as of this year, down from a 42 per cent gap in 2017. According to an annual Gallup poll on Americans’ opinions of Israel, sympathy toward the Palestinians among US adults reached a new high of 31 per cent in March, while 54 per cent of Americans sympathised more with the Israelis, the lowest since 2005.