Biden’s Israel approval gets lowest mark yet in new poll

The approval rating for President Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war has dropped to its lowest point in a new poll, as the fighting continues in Gaza.

The latest Harvard CAPS/Harris poll found Biden with a 36 percent job approval rating on the conflict, down from 39 percent last month and 44 percent back in October, when the question was first posed.

“Biden’s ratings have weakened each month in the Israel-Hamas conflict as Biden has shifted his positions and most see his shift as political. Support for Israel remains unchanged,” said Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll.

Just over half of respondents, or 53 percent, think Biden’s policy on Israel is being directed in part by “perceived domestic politics” and not merely what’s best for the national interest in a secure Israel.

Three-quarters of respondents said Israel should move forward “with an operation in Rafah to finish the war with Hamas, doing its best to avoid casualties even though there will be casualties.” A quarter picked the other option — that Israel should “back off now and allow Hamas to continue running Gaza.”

Biden said earlier this month that he will not provide offensive weapons to Israel if it moves forward with a major military operation in Rafah, but 57 percent in the poll said Biden should continue to provide Israel with weapons even if it does so. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has argued that moving into Rafah will aid in getting at Hamas leaders.

“It’s a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. That’s why I’ve called for an immediate cease-fire, an immediate cease-fire to stop the fighting. Bring the hostages home,” Biden said over the weekend in remarks at Morehouse College, speaking to the campus crowd in the wake of nationwide student protests over his handling of the war.

“I support peaceful, nonviolent protest. Your voices should be heard. And I promise you, I hear them,” Biden said.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with Netanyahu over the weekend to urge Israel to limit its military operation in Gaza and reiterated the president’s position on Rafah.

The survey was conducted from May 15-16 among 1,660 registered voters by the Harris Poll and HarrisX. The margin of error for the total sample is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

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