Washington (CNN) - As President Barack Obama makes his first visit to Israel since winning the White House more than four years ago, with anything but a warm relationship with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu, a new national poll indicates that nearly half of all Americans consider Israel to be an ally of the United States, but the survey indicates a wide partisan divide.
And a CNN/ORC International poll also points out that two-thirds of Americans say that Israel and its Arab neighbors will never live in peace. And the public's divided on whether Washington should support Israel if it launches a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear program.
According to the survey, 46% of those questioned say that Israel is an ally of the U.S., with 33% saying that the country's not an ally but friendly. Only 8% say Israel is unfriendly with 6% calling the country an enemy of the U.S.
"There is a large partisan divide in the U.S. over Israel," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Sixty-three percent of Republicans call Israel an ally of the U.S., compared to only 33 percent of Democrats. A plurality of Democrats think that Israel is friendly to the U.S.; only one in five think it is unfriendly or an enemy."
The poll's Tuesday release comes as the president flies to Israel, the first stop in a Middle East swing that also includes the West Bank and Jordan. Obama's relationship with Netanyahu has never been warm and the Israeli prime minister appeared to favor Republican challenger Mitt Romney in last year's presidential election.
The survey indicates that two-thirds of Americans say that Israel and the Arab nations will never be able to settle their differences and live in peace, with 32% more optimistic.
"One possible reason for that pessimism is the constant speculation that Israel may take matters in its own hands and attack Iranian nuclear facilities to prevent that country from developing nuclear weapons," adds Holland.
What should the U.S. do if that were to happen?
The public is split right down the middle, with 49% saying the U.S. should support Israel if that happened and an equal amount saying the U.S. should not get involved.
The new poll was conducted March 15-17 for CNN by ORC International, with 1,021 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report
Isreal is a "friend". The question that remains unanswered is whether or not Netanyahu wants to be friends with Pres. Obama.
There is a reason why the Star of David is on the back of the $1 bill hovering over the eagle. Those 13 stars don't represent the 13 colonies as many people think. We are Israel's biggest ally. No ifs, ands or buts about it.
I personally couldn't care less about Israel. My loyality is to the United States and our President, Barack Obama – too many appear to yield too much power to Bibi.
This is political speak. Forty-six percent in your poll believe Israel is "a friend" of the U.S. That is not a majority. The U.S./Israel relationship is so special you find yourselves confused by your own timidity. What does "friend" mean in the context of power politics? Probably half the people you polled thought you were talking Facebook when you used that friendly word, "friend." So, you're left calling the 46 percent a majority in your headline because you can't call it for what it is and still remain a friend of Israel. Stupid stuff. The language here is so loose the story becomes meaningless.
An Alliance is something of mutual benefit to the parties. What do we Americans get for having Israel as our "friend" ?
Netanyahoo has said publicly that, "The security relationship between the United States and Israel is rock solid, and I look forward to working with President Obama to further strengthen this relationship." Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister recently said, "We have no better friend than President Obama." All the pretense by Republicans of any lack of support for our alliance with Israel is just more political garbage. It is certainly not based in reality. But Republicans these days don't seem to do reality on any level, do they?
The headline says "Most say Israel is a friend."
The story says 46% Americans believe Israel is an ALLY. This implies "a friend," while 33% believe Israel is "a friend" but not an ally. 79% Americans believe Israel is "a friend" - irregardless of an ally or not.
The only thing that is misleading is your anger.
sonny chapman: "What do we Americans get for having Israel as our "friend" ?
The list would be long enough to fill many pages... On the other hand, can you tell us what Americans would get in case the US would switch sides and tried to have te Palestinian Arabs ot Iran as "friends"?