Poll: Half of Israeli Jews Hold Negative Views of Obama

German Chancellor Angela Merkel the world leader most admired by Israeli Jews, according to a poll released by Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

51 percent of Israeli Jews hold negative views of U.S. President Barack Obama, while 41 percent feel positive towards the American leader, a poll released on Thursday by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy found.

According to the poll, the world figure most admired by Israeli Jews is German Chancellor Angela Merkel, followed by former U.S. president Bill Clinton, with Obama coming in third place.

U.S. President Obama - AP - Nov. 3, 2010

Not surprisingly, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the world leader most disliked by Israeli Jews.

62 percent of Israel Jews polled want Israel to do more to promote comprehensive peace with the Arabs, but about half of Israeli Jews believe that Arabs would not accept a solution to the conflict.

27 percent of Israelis reject withdrawing from territories occupied during the Six Day War in 1967 and establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, even if all Arab states were to recognize Israel.

Three quarters of Israeli Jews want the Palestinians to accept Israel as a "Jewish State" but only one third demand such acceptance before a peace agreement is reached.

71 percent of Israeli Jews accept accommodating non-Jewish citizens by defining Israel as "the homeland of the Jewish people and of all its citizens."

The poll also measured the opinions of the American public as well as Israel's Arab sector.

72 percent of Americans said they support U.S. efforts to mediate an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

41 percent of Americans surveyed said that the diplomatic efforts of the Obama Administration diplomatic efforts are at "right level," while 30 percent said that the administration is not trying hard enough and 21 percent said it is trying too hard.

2/3 of Americans polled want the administration to "lean toward neither side" in mediating an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, while a quarter want it to lean toward Israel and 2 percent want it to lean toward the Palestinians.

Among Israel's Arab citizens, 36 percent identify themselves as Arab first, 22 percent as Palestinian first, 19 percent as Muslim first, and 12 percent as Israeli first.

Nearly two thirds of Israeli Arabs said that the right of return of Palestinian refugees is important and "cannot be comprised in any way."

58 percent of Israeli Arabs reject transferring Arab towns currently in Israel to a new Palestinian state.

The percentage of Israeli Arabs holding positive views of Obama has dropped from 70 percent in 2009 to 45 percent in 2010.

Dr Shibley Telhami, senior fellow at the Brookings institution and the polls’ principal investigator, told Haaretz that he didn't expect Clinton to present a "Obama peace plan" or "Clinton plan" on Friday.

“I’d expect her to stress the Administration’s commitment to the peace process, that the U.S. won’t bow away, that it changes tactics but won’t change the course, and that instead of concentrating on the logistics from now on the accent will be on the final status issues – and if there is no possibility for the direct talks, there will be indirect talks."

Telhami said that he isn’t worried about President Obama’s low approval numbers in Israel – “He won’t win over the Palestinian or the Israeli public, but if he will deliver the agreement they will jump on it. People won’t reward you on the way to agreement because they are wary. He shouldn’t look at the ups and downs of process."

"You can’t sell parts of the process. But the numbers clearly show there is a hunger for leadership and unprecedented openness for possibility of peace agreement – the pessimism stems from the lack of leadership. Leaders are so preoccupied with coalition and other daily issues that they hardly see the big picture – the readiness of the Arab countries leaders and the two societies to peace," Telhami said.

Concluding, Telhami added that "people know the current situation is bad and the collapse of the two state solution could be a catastrophe. But they don’t know who will provide them the solution – and how. Someone needs to come with a creative solution. As an American, I'd like to believe that the U.S. has capacity to help with solution."