By Julian Pecquet - 10/29/12 03:31 PM EDT
Israelis prefer Mitt Romney over President Obama by a wide margin, according to the latest polling from the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University.
The gap is especially marked among self-described right-wingers — 70 percent of whom prefer Romney — while Obama gets three times more support from Arab Israelis, 45 percent versus 15 percent.
The new poll also found that most Jewish Israelis, 53 percent, do not believe that there was a real opportunity for the government to renew negotiations with the Palestinians. Arab Israelis disagreed, with 56 percent saying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu missed opportunities.
The U.S. relationship with Israel has played a larger role than usual in this year's election, with Republicans in particular accusing Obama of not doing enough to stand up to Iran.
While Obama's relationship with Netanyahu has been tested by Israel's continued construction of settlements in Palestinian territories, Democrats counter that the two countries' military relationship has never been stronger and that they've spent millions of dollars upgrading Israel's missile defenses.
Israeli public opinion stands in stark contrast with the rest of the world, where a clear majority of people prefer Obama over Romney, according to a BBC poll.
That poll of 21,797 people in 21 countries — but not Israel — found an average of 50 percent of respondents favored Obama versus 9 percent for Romney. The two candidates are equally unpopular in Pakistan.
Former President Clinton's Middle East envoy, Dennis Ross, attributed some American Jews' dissatisfaction with Obama to “disinformation” and “a highly polarized environment in America” in an interview with Israel's left-leaning Haaretz newspaper. The interview is to be published on Tuesday to coincide with the Jerusalem convention of the Jewish People Policy Institute.
“What the president has done for Israel in the security area is without precedent,” said Ross, who served on Obama's National Security Council with responsibility over the Middle East until November 2011.
“I've worked with every Israeli prime minister in the past 30 years, and there have always been ups and downs. But you don't really see the kind of language we're hearing now. It must be the polarization. I can't explain it otherwise.”
The Israeli poll of 601 respondents was conducted between Oct. 22-24 and has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.