(CNSNews.com) - Israel’s “favorable” rating in the United States has climbed to a 23-year high in the Gallup poll, even as the Obama administration has been pressuring the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make a peace deal that would result in the creation of a Palestinian state.
Almost four times as many Americans view Israel favorably as view the Palestinian Authority favorably, according to Gallup.
Currently, 72 percent of Americans surveyed say they have a favorable opinion of Israel, while only 23 percent say they have an unfavorable opinion.
Only 19 percent of Americans say the have a favorable opinion of the Palestinian Authority. That ties the Palestinian Authority with Libya, which was also viewed favorably by only 19 percent of Americans.
In the 25 years Gallup has been asking Americans for their opinion of Israel (in 27 different surveys), Israel’s rating has been higher than it is now on only one occasion. That was when it hit 79 percent in a survey conducted from Jan. 30, 1991 to Feb. 2, 1991, during the Gulf War—when then-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was firing SCUD missiles at Tel Aviv and other locations in Israel in an unsuccessful attempt to goad Israel into joining the war.
The U.S. administration of President George H.W. Bush wanted Israel to refrain from responding to Saddam Hussein’s Scud attacks because it was worried that a direct Israeli response to Saddam would cause the collapse of the coalition of Arab states Bush had recruited to ally themselves with the United States in the conflict. Israel did refrain from responding directly to Saddam.
The Congressional Research Service later reported that Iraq had fired 39 SCUDs at Israel during the Gulf War.
Among the headlines in the New York Times in the latter half of January 1991 were: ““Iraqis Fire Missiles at Israeli Cities After Second Day of Allied Bombing; U.S Discourages an Israeli Response;” “The U.S. and Israel; Barrage of Iraqi Missiles on Israel Complicates U.S. Strategy in Gulf” “Tel Aviv; In Two Nights, Missiles Turn Fear Into a Grim New Routine;” “Washington; 2d Iraqi Attack on Israel Raises Concern in U.S.;” “Bush Urges Israeli Restraint in Phone Appeals to Shamir;” “Tel Aviv Feeling Tense and Beseiged;” “No Immediate Retaliation, Israelis Say”
This year, the news about U.S.-Israeli relations has focused not on attacks by Saddam Hussein but on the efforts of the Obama administration to push Israel to agree to a “framework” for a deal with the Palestinians developed by Secretary of State John Kerry.
Obama is meeting with Netanyahu in Washington today.
In an interview conducted late last week with Jeffrey Goldberg of Bloomberg, Obama used harsh language to explain how he intended to pressure the Israeli leader.
Obama told Goldberg he would tell Netanyahu: “If not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, then who?”
Obama also told Goldberg that if Netanyahu “does not believe that a peace deal with the Palestinians is the right thing to do for Israel, then he needs to articulate an alternative approach."
“It’s hard to come up with one that’s plausible,” said Obama.
“There comes a point where you can’t manage this anymore, and then you start having to make very difficult choices,” Obama said of Israel’s relations with the Palestinians.
While Israel’s “favorable” rating is higher now than it has been at any time since Saddam Hussein was attacking Israel with SCUDS, many of Israel’s regional neighbors are among the nations seen least favorably by the American people.
In Gallup’s latest survey, conducted Feb. 6-9, the polling company asked Americans if they had a favorable or unfavorable view of 22 different countries. Eight of the bottom ten in the favorable ratings were Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa (Libya) that have not recognized Israel. The other two in the bottom ten were North Korea—which has the lowest favorable rating—and Russia, which had the ninth lowest rating.
Here, ranked from the least favorable, are the nations in the Gallup that had the ten lowest favorable ratings among Americans:
1-North Korea, 11%
7-The Palestinian Authority, 19%
Egypt, which was the first Muslim-majority Middle Eastern country to recognize Israel, had the highest favorable rating, after Israel, among countries in the Middle East included in the Gallup survey. Egypt’s 45 percent favorable rating was up from the 40 percent it received in the Gallup poll conducted a year ago, in February 2013. In the intervening year, the Egyptian military removed Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood as Egypt’s president.