A new poll has shown a large plurality of Americans — 43% to 25% — favor Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressing the U.S. Congress on the looming Iranian nuclear weapons threat, which Mr. Netanyahu is due to do on March 3.
The CNN/ORC poll, conducted by Paragon Insights and released this week, shows that 43% of Americans agree with the statement: “Other people say Iran is getting closer to building a nuclear weapon. As one of the world’s most knowledgeable leaders on the Middle East and the Iranian nuclear program, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu should address Congress before the March 31st deadline for a political framework with Iran.”
In contrast, only 25% of Americans agree with the following statement: “Some people say Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is in the middle of an election at home, and it is inappropriate for the U.S. to host him for a speech only two weeks before the election is being held. They say this is a Republican attempt to make Netanyahu look stronger before his election.”
In other results, the poll showed:
47% disapprove of the way the Obama Administration has reacted to the Mr. Netanyahu’s upcoming speech by refusing to meet with him during his U.S. visit, as opposed to 32% who approve of the Administration’s reaction.
More than a third of respondents said they would be less likely to vote to re-elect their congressman if he or she boycotted the Netanyahu speech, while 27% said it would make them more likely to support re-election.
Only 22% of Americans said that Mr. Netanyahu should be barred from speaking because of his personal political interests in the upcoming Israeli elections.
52% of Americans believe that the U.S. should support Israel (26% strongly support), whereas only 11% believe it should support the Palestinians (3% strongly support).
51% of Americans disapprove of President Obama’s handling of foreign policy (30% strongly disapprove), while only 41% approve (only 13% strongly approve).
“While a large 63% of Americans have expressed disapproval of the way Mr. Netanyahu was invited to speak by the House Speaker John Boehner, most nonetheless support the Israeli Prime Minister addressing Congress on the Iranian nuclear threat,” explained ZOA National Chairman of the Board Dr. Michael Goldblatt.
“In fact, as this poll shows, Americans would be more likely to penalize than support legislators who boycotted his upcoming address. President Barack Obama has sought to cast Netanyahu’s acceptance of an invitation to address Congress as a slap in the face. But it isn’t. The issue is entirely a product of President Obama’s policy on Iran, which engenders bipartisan concern in Israel.
“Put simply, President Obama seems willing to tolerate an Iranian nuclear weapons threshold capacity — but Israel is not. “President Obama was glad to have British Prime Minister David Cameron urging Members of Congress last month in support of his Iran policy, but is peeved to have Mr. Netanyahu there critiquing it.
“The argument that President Obama is widely supported for his pique and unwillingness to have the Israeli Prime Minister address the Congress on this matter of first importance to the security and existence of Israel — as well as the security of the United States — is decisively refuted by this poll.”
Chuck Freilich, a Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School and former Deputy National Security Adviser in Israel speaks about the “Netanyahu Divide.”