Poll: Split Opinion on Involvement in Mideast

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During a week that saw back-to-back bombings in Israel, the American public is divided on how involved the U.S. should be in helping to resolve the crisis.

Results from the current FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll show that 38 percent of voters nationwide think the U.S. should become more involved in the peace process while almost as many, 32 percent, say less involved and 16 percent say U.S. policy should "stay about the same." The remaining respondents volunteered the view that the U.S. should "get out" of the peace process completely (4 percent) or had no opinion (10 percent).

About equal numbers of Democrats (40 percent) and Republicans (39 percent) think the country should be more involved in helping resolve the crisis. However Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say the U.S. should be "less involved" in the peace process (35 percent to 25 percent respectively). Almost twice as many GOPers (21 percent) as Democrats (11 percent) think we should maintain our current level of involvement.

Americans are more skeptical today about Israelis and Palestinians achieving peace. When asked which is most likely in the next few years, a sizeable majority (73 percent) now says war is most likely compared to 58 percent in April 1996. The number saying the sides will mostly likely achieve peace has fallen by half, from 25 percent in 1996 to 12 percent today.

"Both of these measures indicate a sort of new realism on the part of Americans about how difficult it will be to craft a lasting peace in the region," said Ernest Paicopolos, a principal of Opinion Dynamics.

The Mideast conflict may not be the hottest topic at poolside, but about the same number of respondents volunteer that the Middle East is the topic that "comes up most often" with neighbors as does conversation about the weather or jobs.

Polling was conducted by telephone June 18-19, 2002 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ± 3 percentage points.

1. In your everyday conversations with friends and neighbors, what topic would you say comes up most often these days? (OPEN ENDED)

2. Do you think the United States should get more involved or less involved in the Middle East peace process?

3. Thinking about the situation in the Middle East, which of the following do you think is most likely?
1. The Arabs and Israel will achieve peace in the next few years
2. The Arabs and Israel will be in a major war in the next few years
3. (Not sure)