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Poll: Israeli Jews See Obama as Pro-Palestinian

An Israeli watches televisions broadcasting President Obama's speech in Cairo, at an electronics shop in Tel Aviv. (Reuters)

JERUSALEM -- A new poll shows only 6 percent of Israeli Jews see President Barack Obama's administration as pro-Israel, while 50 percent see it as pro-Palestinian.

That is a dramatic change from the previous U.S. administration of George W. Bush, which 88 percent termed "pro-Israel" and just 2 percent labeled pro-Palestinian.

Many Israelis reject Obama's call for a total settlement freeze and have come to see him as overly sympathetic to Palestinian claims.

The poll, taken after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said for the first time he supported a demilitarized Palestinian state, found 36 percent of respondents viewed Obama as neutral.

Netanyahu's advisers and aides offered varying explanations for Israelis' negative view of Obama, ranging from blaming the media for focusing on the perception of strained relations between Washington and Jerusalem to the belief that Obama faulted Israel for the lack of peace in the Middle East.

Last week, Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported that the prime minister believes Obama wants to create a confrontation with Israel to help him improve relations with the Arab world, aides said.

In Cairo, Obama called for a "new beginning" between the United States and Muslim countries. In the speech, he called the long-standing U.S.-Israel alliance "unbreakable" but stepped up pressure on Israel's leadership to follow U.S. terms for a roadmap to peace. 

A previous poll taken merely one month ago, found only 14 percent saw the Obama administration as pro-Palestinian while 31 percent viewed it pro-Israeli. The large shift in perspective points to a strong reaction from the Israeli public after the American president's speech to the Muslim world.

Middle East envoy George Mitchell said in Israel that the U.S. commitment to Israeli security is "unshakable" and that policy gaps "are not disagreements among adversaries" but between "close allies and friends." 

The poll of 500 Jewish Israelis was conducted by Smith Research and published Friday in The Jerusalem Post. The margin of error was 4.5 percent.

Click to see the full results at The Jerusalem Post

The Associated Press contributed to this report.