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Israel and the Palestinians

Foreign Aid to Israel and the Palestinians

Over the last few years support for the current level of US aid to Israel has been a plurality to a modest majority. At the same time, only a small minority has positive feelings about aid to Israel. In 2006 a majority opposes giving aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, but in the past a majority has shown a readiness to give substantial aid to the Palestinians if they would make peace with Israel.

Aid to Israel

Americans support for aid to Israel has been lukewarm. In a CCFR survey in June 2002 55% wanted to keep the current level of economic the same (37%) or increase it (18%). In a November 2000 PIPA poll, respondents were asked to rate their feelings about US aid to Israel and Egypt on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being very bad, 10 being very good, and 5 being neutral. Only 27% gave a rating above 5, 31% gave a rating of 5, and 40% gave a rating below 5. The mean score was 4.45. [1]

Americans are most willing to provide aid to Israel if they make peace with Palestine. In May 2003 (PIPA), told respondents that Israel was given 2.85 billion. If Israel were to make peace with the Palestinians the mean respondent said they would be willing to increase aid to Israel to $3.76 billion. Correspondingly in polling conducted 2002-2003, majorities supported the US withholding or reducing its aid to Israel and the Palestinians, as a means of pressure to influence their behavior (see "Support for Pressuring Parties").

At the same time Americans show a resistance to directly bankrolling the peace process. In a March 2002 Newsweek poll two-thirds (66%) rejected the idea of "providing more money to create conditions helpful to peace, such as paying Israeli and Palestinian settlers [sic] money to relocate and funding for general economic development"; 26% favored the idea. [2]

Aid to the Palestinians

The recent change in control of the Palestinian government to the Hamas party has caused Americans to withdraw some of their support for the US government providing aid to the Palestinians, particularly due to Hamas’ refusal to recognize the existence of Israel. When asked in a February 2006 Gallup poll, a majority of 57% percent believed that the US should not give any financial aid to a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, while fully 30% percent believed that aid should only be given if Hamas agrees to recognize Israel. Americans show significantly more skeptical views about providing aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government than they did about providing aid to the Palestinians a few years earlier.[3]

Americans are most supportive of providing Palestinians with aid if they resolve their conflict with Israel. Asked in a May 2003 PIPA poll “if the Palestinians come to terms with Israel in a peace agreement, do you think the US should equalize the amount of aid it gives to Israel and to the Palestinians," 67% indicated they would support an equalizing aid to Palestine. [4]

In the same 2003 PIPA poll with a different sample, respondents were told how much aid is currently given to Palestine, and were then asked to provide their own assessment of how much aid should be given if Palestine were to make peace with Israel. The median response was to increase aid to $1 billion, more than 14 times the $70 million provided at the time. The average response indicated a willingness to increase aid to $2.37 billion (somewhat lower than the amount indicated for Israel).

Public Gives Relatively Low Support to Aid to Israel and Egypt

As compared to other types of aid, aid to Israel and Egypt is one that receives one of the lowest levels of support. In PIPA's November 2000 poll, respondents were asked to evaluate ten forms of aid and were asked to rank how they felt about each one on a 0-to-10 scale, with 0 being "very bad," 10 being "very good," and 5 being "neutral." The form of aid rated second lowest was "aid to Israel and Egypt, which includes military and economic aid," with a mean of 4.45; only "military aid" was ranked lower (4.26). By contrast, humanitarian forms of aid were rated much higher--the highest-rated form of aid was "child survival programs, including prenatal care, immunizations and nutrition" (7.66). [5]

When asked to rate various reasons for giving aid, strategic reasons that would apply to Israel and Egypt score much lower than one based on humanitarian considerations. In the November 2000 PIPA poll the lowest-rated reason for giving aid was "to increase US influence over other countries," with a mean score of 4.40. The highest-rated reason for giving aid was "to alleviate hunger and disease in poor countries" (7.71). [6]



Report Contents

View PIPA/Knowledge Networks study [pdf files]
Americans on the Middle East Road Map

[full report]
May 30, 2003