Poll shows gains from Obama effort to reach out to Israeli public

A new poll shows modest gains from President Obama’s effort to reach out to the Israeli public during last week’s three-day trip to the Middle East.

A poll from the Jerusalem Post released on Friday shows 27 percent of Israelis believe Obama is more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian, a 1-point bump from before his visit. Sixteen percent considered the administration more pro-Palestinian, with 39 percent believing the White House neutral between the two sides.

But the percentage who believed Obama was more pro-Palestinian dropped 20 points.

In a poll taken before the visit, 26 percent of Israeli respondents said the Obama administration was more pro-Israel, with 36 percent saying it was more pro-Palestinian and 26 percent neutral.

Obama’s first overseas trip of his second term took him to the Middle East last week, including stops in Israel, his first as president, the West Bank and Jordan.

The White House hoped the trip would thaw the frosty relations between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the first term and rekindle support for the peace process by reaching out to young Israelis.

Obama vowed an “eternal” alliance between the U.S. and Israel and sought to reassure concerns that the U.S. would act to prevent a nuclear Iran, which Israeli leaders see as an existential threat to the Jewish state.

The president called on both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to resume peace talks without preconditions and speaking to Israeli college students asked them to push forward the peace process.

During the visit, Obama also said he believed Israelis right to live in the Holy Land was “rooted in history and tradition,” seeking to undo the damage from his 2009 Cairo speech.

Obama also scored a diplomatic victory during the trip, when he brokered a call from Netanyahu to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip to apologize for the deaths of eight Turks during an operation to prevent a ship from breaking the Gaza embargo.