Netanyahu U.S. Visit Well-Received in Israel

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s popularity at home has surged since his address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, in which he said: “Israel will not return to the indefensible lines of 1967.”

A poll published five weeks ago showed that 53% of Israeli’s were disappointed with Netanyahu’s leadership.

A new poll, conducted by the Dialog Institute however showed a surge in support. Here is the breakdown via Haaretz:

  • 47% of the Israeli public thought the visit was a success compared with 10% that viewed it as a failure.
  • Nearly 50% of the public felt “pride” at seeing Netanyahu’s address and 5% per cent thought it was a “missed opportunity.”
  • 27% said they expect U.S.-Israel relations to improve, while 13% expected relations to deteriorate. Almost 50% thought relations would remain unchanged.

During his address to Congress, Netanyahu received 26 standing ovations. He hammered home the point, “Israel has no better friend than America. And America has no better friend than Israel.” Yet Netanyahu’s one-on-one interaction with President Obama was strained.

At a joint press conference, President Obama barely made eye contact with Netanyahu as he spoke, while Netanyahu addressed the President directly. At the time, President Obama said (via ABC News): “Obviously there are some differences between us. The precise formulations and language, and that’s going to happen between friends.”

Yet most Israeli’s polled didn’t think the visit strained U.S.-Israel ties. Haaretz reports:

The public thus seems to be turning a deaf ear to the many political and diplomatic analysts who criticised the prime minister’s address to Congress and who said it proved that Netanyahu was not capable of pulling the negotiations with the Palestinians out of the dangerous mire they are in.

The public also seems to have dismissed the learned warnings that Netanyahu had generated an unnecessary confrontation with Obama, for which Israel is liable to pay a high price down the line. Apparently average Israelis – from the right, the centre, and even from some parts of the left – are welcoming Netanyahu back to Israel with open arms.

Despite all the tension in Washington this past week, Israelis generally don’t believe that Obama is hostile to Israel.

Asked their opinion of Obama, who tussled with Netanyahu late last week and also stung him a bit during his speech to the AIPAC annual conference on Sunday, 43 per cent of those polled described him as “businesslike,” while a quarter described him as friendly and only 20 per cent saw him as hostile.

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