British attitudes to the Israel-Gaza conflict: May 2024 update

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
May 10, 2024, 7:21 AM GMT+0

Public opinion is largely the same as it was in our last update three months ago

In our February update on public attitudes to the Gaza conflict, Israel was on the cusp of a new offensive into the city of Rafah. Fast forward three months and that statement remains true, and public opinion likewise continues to be much the same.

While Hamas has in recent days made a ceasefire offer, Israel has rejected it, saying the terms fell short of their key demands. Desire for a ceasefire remains high here in Britain: 69% say they think Israel should stop and call a ceasefire at the current time, about the same as the 66% who said so in February.

By contrast, only 13% think Israel should continue to take military action – a figure unchanged from three months ago.

There has been no shift in attitudes among those on either side of the conflict since February. Fully 98% of those who sympathise more with Palestinian side say that Israel should stop and call a ceasefire, as do 80% of those who say they sympathise with both sides equally. Only 27% of those who sympathise more with the Israeli side say the same – most (63%) want Israel to continue taking military action.

Nevertheless, there has been some movement among pro-Israelis towards saying that Israel should be prepared to enter peace negotiations with Hamas – 58% now say so, up from 50% in February. A third (32%) continue to say that Israel should not be prepared to negotiate with Hamas.

The wider public are much more likely to say that Israel should be prepared to enter into peace negotiations with Hamas (70%, with only 8% opposed), and by a similar 76% to 4% Britons say Hamas should likewise be prepared to take part in peace talks.

Public sympathies in the Israel-Palestine conflict remain static

Public sympathies in the conflict also look largely as they did in February. Britons are most likely to say they sympathise more with the Palestinian side, at 29%, while 16% say they sympathise more with the Israelis. A further 23% say they sympathise with both sides equally, and 31% are not sure.

While this ‘not sure’ figure is significantly lower than the 48% it was prior to the conflict, it has never dropped below 29% over the course of the polling, demonstrating how even on the most prominent and contentious of issues many Britons remain disinterested or detached.

Britons support suspending UK arms sales to Israel

Recent weeks have seen impetus for an arms embargo on Israel, with parliamentarians and lawyers calling on the UK to withhold assistance from the country until the end of hostilities in Gaza.

Most Britons (56%) would support the UK ending the sale of arms to Israel for the duration of the conflict in Gaza. Only 20% would oppose this move – these figures are both about the same as they were when we first asked at the beginning of April.

See the full results here

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Photo: Getty

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