Americans believe U.S. has some responsibility to help the Middle East ceasefire hold

May 28, 2021, 2:30 PM GMT+0

Americans are happy with the ceasefire in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas, the de facto leadership of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Both sides of the conflict claimed victory upon agreeing to end the fighting that spanned 11 days and led to hundreds of deaths.

But while most Americans in the latest Economist/YouGov poll believe the ceasefire is a good thing for all the parties involved, there is widespread skepticism that it will be long lasting. For both Democrats and Republicans, this is a matter of importance for the United States – more partisans on both sides believe that the country has a responsibility to see that the Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire holds than say it does not.

Democrats want the United States to help maintain the ceasefire by 47% to 30%. About four in five Republicans (42%) believe the U.S. has a responsibility to help keep the peace, compared to one-third (34%) who disagree.

Independents disagree (29% say this responsibility exists, 36% say it does not). There is also an income and education difference in opinion. Those with annual family incomes of $100,000 or more say the U.S. has a responsibility to maintain the ceasefire (48% to 32%), compared to 40% of those with a household income of $50,000 to 100,000 annually. One-third of Americans with a family income below $50,000 annually (32%) say that the U.S. has a responsibility to help continue the agreement.

Those with a college degree agree (46% to 33%), but those who do not have any college education are split (29% agree, 29% disagree).

Will the ceasefire last? Americans are not optimistic

But skepticism about whether the ceasefire will last is widespread. Only 15% of Americans believe it will be permanent. Four in ten (43%) say it won’t last a month, with Republicans (43%) more skeptical than Democrats (32%), and Independents (50%) even more so.

Still, the American public sees all of the protagonists benefiting from the ceasefire. By 63% to 13%, they say it is good for Israelis, and see it as good for the Palestinians by 66% to 20%.

Those whose sympathies in the conflict lie with Israel believe the ceasefire is good for Israelis by 75% to 15%. Those who sympathize more with the Palestinians say the ceasefire is good for them by an eight to one margin, 80% to 10%. In addition, by six to one (62% to 10%), Americans believe the ceasefire is also good for the United States.

But the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains a potential weakness for President Joe Biden. Although his approval rating for handling Israel rose six points over the last week (30% to 36%), it remains a negative evaluation (42% disapprove of how he’s handling the issue). Biden’s overall rating for handling foreign policy in general is mixed, even as his overall approval (as well as public assessment of his handling of the economy) are clearly positive.

Related: Israel and the Palestinians: Where do America’s sympathies lie?

See the toplines and crosstabs from this week’s Economist/YouGov poll

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between May 22 - 25, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 2.9% for the overall sample.

Image: Getty