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date: 21 August 2017

U.S.-Israel Relations

Summary and Keywords

Moral, political, and strategic factors have contributed to the emergence and durability of the U.S.-Israel alliance. It took decades for American support for Israel to evolve from “a moral stance” to treating Israel as a “strategic asset” to adopting a policy of “strategic cooperation.” The United States supported Israel’s creation in 1948 not only because of the lobbying efforts of American Jews but also due to humanitarian considerations stemming from the Holocaust. Beginning in the 1950s, Israel sought to portray itself as an ally of the United States on grounds that America and Israel were fellow liberal democracies and shared a common Judeo-Christian cultural heritage. By the mid-1960s, Israel was considered a strategic proxy of American power in the Middle East in the Cold War, while the Soviet Union armed the radical Arab nationalist states and endorsed a Palestinian “people’s wars of national liberation” against Israel. Over the subsequent decades, Israel repeatedly sought to demonstrate that it was allied with the United States in opposing instability in the region that might threaten U.S. interests. Israel also sought to portray itself as a liberal democracy despite its continued occupation of territories that it conquered in the Arab-Israeli War of 1967. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the rise of regional instability and radicalism in the Middle East following the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and the Arab Spring of 2011, Israel’s expertise in the realms of counterterrorism and homeland security provided a further basis for U.S.-Israel military-strategic cooperation. Although American and Israeli interests are not identical, and there have been disagreements between the two countries regarding the best means to secure comprehensive Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian peace, the foundations of the relationship are strong enough to overcome crises that would imperil a less robust alliance.

Keywords: United States, Israel, Palestinians, Cold War, Arab-Israeli War of 1967, United Nations Resolution 242, Arab-Israeli War of 1973, Occupied Territories, peace process, Arab Spring

Truman and Eisenhower

Harry S. Truman inherited the issue of whether or not to support the establishment of a Jewish state from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt was the first president to encounter strong lobbying by American Jewish and Zionist groups to support the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine in the context of British colonial rule over the territory.

After the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, the United Kingdom ruled Palestine from 1917 to 1948. In 1917, Britain proclaimed its support for the establishment of a Jewish “national home” in Palestine, but not explicitly a Jewish “state,” through the Balfour Declaration and permitted Jewish emigration to the territory.1 By the late 1930s, however, the British had begun to reconsider its policy because of increasing strife between the Arab and Jewish communities under its administration. In 1939, the United Kingdom issued a white paper limiting Jewish immigration to Palestine and declared that Mandatory Palestine would become neither a solely Jewish nor an Arab state, but an independent state whose future would be decided after a period of ten years.

Roosevelt had been equivocal in his support for the Zionist movement’s objective of re-establishing a Jewish state in Palestine and was sensitive to the Arab states’ opposition to such a prospect. He had declared to the Saudi Arabian king that the United States would not undertake a decision to support the establishment of a Jewish state without consulting and taking into account the interests of the Arab states. However, after being elected president, Truman authorized his United Nations (UN) representative to vote in favor of the UN Partition Plan for Palestine (UN Resolution 181) in 1947. The Partition Plan authorized the establishment of a Jewish state alongside an Arab state in Palestine once British colonial authority over the territory expired in 1948.

Moral and political factors contributed to Truman’s decision to support the establishment of a Jewish state, which was opposed by State and Defense Department advisors who believed that the United States should not antagonize the oil-rich, populous Arab states. Truman took into consideration that there were already many Jewish settlers in Palestine and numerous Jewish refugees after World War II in need of resettlement. Truman also was aware of the many Jewish constituents of the Democratic Party. Finally, while Truman was not a fundamentalist Christian, he was devout and reflected religious teachings that stressed the Jews’ historical ties with Palestine.

The Palestinians and the Arab states rejected the UN Partition Plan of 1947 even though it provided for the establishment of a Palestinian-Arab state in Mandatory Palestine. They did not accept that there should be a Jewish state established in any part of the territory. As a civil war escalated between the Palestinian Arab community and Jewish settler community that had immigrated to Palestine, the implementation of the Partition Plan was stymied. In the midst of civil war, the Jewish community declared statehood on May 14, 1948, immediately following the official termination of the British Mandate for Palestine.

Truman granted de facto recognition to Israel without delay. Following Israel’s declaration of independence, the Arab states attacked the newborn state in solidarity with the Arab community that had already been engaged in a civil war with the Jewish settlers prior to Israel’s declaration of independence. Although the United States imposed an arms embargo against both sides in order to avoid involving itself in the conflict, Israel triumphed over the combined Arab armies.

The 1948 war was concluded by armistice agreements between Israel and the surrounding Arab states, rather than formal peace treaties. On grounds that they were still technically at war with Israel, the Arab states committed themselves to maintaining a state of belligerency against Israel in the form of economic boycott, refusal to recognize Israel’s legitimacy as a state, and preparations for renewing open war with Israel.2 Citing UN Resolution 194, the Arab states demanded that Israel accept the universal right of the Palestinians who had fled Israel in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948 to return to their former homes inside Israel.3

In 1950, Truman signed the Tripartite Agreement, pledging that America, alongside Britain and France, would take action within and outside the United Nations to prevent violations of national frontiers or the armistice lines established by the 1949 Arab-Israeli Armistice Agreements.

Dwight D. Eisenhower neither felt Truman’s emotional support for Israel nor possessed the political interests that, in part, underlay Truman’s decision to endorse the establishment of a Jewish state. Yet although Eisenhower was a Republican in a time when the party had a relatively small constituency among Jews, he nonetheless sustained the U.S. commitment to the Tripartite Agreement and the defense of Israel against aggression.

Eisenhower’s policy toward Israel reflected a distinctly complicated and strategic view of the Middle East. As the Cold War contest intensified between the United States and the Soviet Union for global influence beginning in the 1950s, Eisenhower increasingly stressed fortifying relations with the Arab states, which were important for their provision of oil and strategic-base rights to the West. When Israel attacked Egypt alongside France and the United Kingdom in 1956, Eisenhower opposed their action, which was intended to topple the Egyptian leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and restore British and French control over the Suez Canal. Eisenhower threatened to support sanctions against Israel unless it immediately and unconditionally withdrew from Egyptian territory that it occupied in the war. Eisenhower feared that if he did not, the Arab world would consider America supportive of the Tripartite Aggression against Egypt.

Eisenhower’s position cut against growing popular and congressional support for Israel in the 1950s. This pro-Israeli sentiment derived from a growing consensus, cultivated by the nascent Israel Lobby, the American Zionist Council, and Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Abba Eban, that America and Israel shared cultural and political values, and that Israel, therefore, was a natural ally in the Cold War. American Jews also increasingly came to identify with Israel and perceived it as a humanitarian refuge for their co-religionists in Europe after the Holocaust.

Leaders of Congress and American Jewish groups criticized Eisenhower’s position. They believed that prior to withdrawing, Israel needed assurances that it would not be subjected to renewed raiding from Egyptian-controlled territory by Palestinian fighters known as fedayeen, and that the Straits of Tiran and other Egyptian-controlled waterways would not again be closed to Israeli shipping. Due to public and congressional protest, Eisenhower was persuaded to support the stationing of the United Nations Emergency Forces (UNEF) in Egyptian territory prior to Israeli withdrawal.

U.S.-Israel RelationsClick to view larger

Figure 1. President Harry Truman, Israeli ambassador to the United States Abba Eban, and Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion, 1951.

Photograph by Fritz Cohen.

John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson

John F. Kennedy was more supportive of close U.S.-Israel ties than Eisenhower had been. Kennedy was a Democrat with many influential Jewish-American supporters. He also believed that Israel was a fellow liberal democracy and, therefore, merited a “special relationship” with America. Nevertheless, JFK resisted the sale of major American weapons to Israel in an attempt to promote U.S. relations with the Arab world and to preserve the appearance of American impartiality in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Kennedy sought good relations with popular leaders in the Arab world, including Nasser, to further America’s influence in the Middle East during the Cold War and to encourage these Arab leaders to moderate their policies toward Israel.

Yet Kennedy also recognized that America had a firm commitment to protect Israel. As the United Arab Republic (UAR) increased its purchases of Soviet arms, Kennedy came under increasing pressure to sell U.S. arms to Israel.4 In 1962, Kennedy concluded the first major “defensive” U.S. arms sale to Israel for both domestic political reasons and to ensure that Israel maintained military parity with the UAR.

Kennedy was interested in leveraging the sale of the Hawk missiles to secure Israel’s willingness to repatriate large numbers of Palestinian refugees to Israel and its agreement to halt its suspected nuclear program. Yet Kennedy was constrained in his ability to pressure Israel for concessions on its nuclear program or the Palestinian refugee problem in return for arms. Jewish American support for his administration and the Democrats more generally limited Kennedy’s freedom of action with respect to Israel, but bound up in his policies toward Israel was also his view of Israel as a friend of the West in the Cold War.

Despite Kennedy’s first major U.S. arms sale to Israel, the U.S.-Israel relationship was in crisis by the end of the Kennedy presidency. JFK continued to demand that Israel allow inspections of its suspected nuclear sites, but he faced intense resistance from Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion.

After ascending to the presidency following Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Lyndon B. Johnson was much less inclined to pressure Israel on matters such as nuclear nonproliferation or the repatriation of Palestinian refugees. The roots of Johnson’s staunch personal support for Israel derived from his Christian evangelical upbringing, his many liberal democratic Jewish American friends and political supporters, and his view that Israel had cultural and political similarities to the United States, in particular, his home state of Texas.

Like his predecessors, Johnson felt that the United States had a moral commitment to defend Israel’s right to exist. But he also considered U.S. support for Israel a Cold War strategic necessity in the context of increasing Soviet arms sales to the radical Arab states (Syria, Iraq, and the UAR) and the establishment of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964. The PLO had pledged to prosecute a Soviet-styled “people’s war of national liberation” against Israel.

In addition to new strategic reasons for supporting Israel, there were also new political imperatives for arming Israel in the 1960s. Pro-Israel sentiment was broadly proliferating in American society as Israel was portrayed as a modern, democratic state in the American mass media; Holocaust awareness proliferated in American society; and the Israel Lobby, which had been renamed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), became more organized and effective. Johnson was only able to obtain the assent of the American Jewish community and Congress to his decision to arm the conservative Arab states—in particular, Jordan—if he agreed to sell Israel reciprocal arms. Thus, LBJ sold the first U.S. “offensive” arms, M-48 tanks and Skyhawk fighter jets, to Israel in 1965 and 1966, respectively, only demanding that, in return, Israel not lobby Congress and the American Jewish community against U.S. arms sales to Jordan.

When an Arab-Israeli crisis erupted in May and June 1967, after Nasser demanded that the United Nations Emergency Forces (UNEF) evacuate Egyptian territory and closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, LBJ gave Israel a yellow but not a green light to attack the UAR pre-emptively. Johnson’s support for Israel would remain firm during the war despite Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty, a U.S. intelligence-gathering ship, killing thirty-four U.S. sailors, which Israel claimed was an accident.

Following Israel’s victory in 1967, Johnson set forth his Five Principles for Middle East Peace. Johnson supported the position that Israel should withdraw its armed forces only from the Arab territories that it had conquered in the war, including the Jordanian-administered West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Egyptian-controlled Gaza Strip, and Syrian Golan Heights, once the surrounding Arab states ended their state of belligerency against it. This framework of “exchanges of land for peace” was enshrined in UN Resolution 242.

Johnson supported the UN Jarring Mission to attempt to implement UN Resolution 242, but the mission was unable to bring Israel and the Arab states to compromise. Despite Israel’s refusal to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and its initiation of the first settlements in the Occupied Territories in contravention of the formula of UN Resolution 242, Johnson agreed to sell fifty nuclear-capable Phantom planes to Israel in 1968 for a mixture of political, strategic, and ideological reasons.

Richard Nixon and Gerald R. Ford

Richard Nixon intensified Johnson’s policy of arming Israel as a proxy of Western power in the Middle East and rode a wave of increasing bipartisan support, in particular from Republican and conservative Christian evangelical sources, for Israel after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Yet Nixon initially hesitated in arming Israel for strategic reasons, since he sought greater reciprocity from the Jewish state in return for U.S. arms. Despite the unprecedented levels of Soviet weaponry being shipped to the radical Arab states—Syria, the United Arab Republic (UAR), and Iraq—following the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Nixon would not immediately agree to arm Israel.

Nixon had no special attachment to Israel, and, after entering the White House, was eager to demonstrate to the Arab world that America did not dismiss its case regarding the Occupied Territories. The president felt that the Soviet Union had been able to make inroads in the Arab states due to Johnson’s identification of the United States with Israel’s diplomatic position after the 1967 war, and he delayed delivery of the Phantom planes Johnson had pledged to Israel in order to pressure Israeli prime minister Golda Meir to implement UN Resolution 242.

Although Nixon’s secretary of state, William P. Rogers, secured a ceasefire between Israel and the UAR in 1970, ending their War of Attrition—which had consisted of exchanges of artillery fire across the Suez Canal—his efforts as part of the Rogers Plan to negotiate a comprehensive peace between Israel and the surrounding Arab states failed. The Egyptian deployment of surface-to-air missiles in the ceasefire area, with Soviet sponsorship, violated the terms of the ceasefire agreement and, in turn, pressured Nixon to release the Phantom planes and other military equipment to demonstrate fidelity to Israel as a Cold War ally.

A political crisis in Jordan reinforced Nixon’s view of Israel as a strategic asset and further expedited his arms deliveries to Israel. Nixon feared Soviet-supported Syria would intervene in the Jordanian civil war on the side of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which had become a large political presence in Jordan and a threat to the U.S.-allied Jordanian monarchy. In 1970, Nixon concluded an agreement with Israel that Israeli forces would, if necessary, stop a Syrian tank column from reaching Amman. Syria was deterred, and the Jordanian monarchy survived.5

A third and final turning point that consolidated Nixon’s support for Israel was the Arab-Israeli War of 1973. That year, a coalition of Arab states led by Syria and Egypt launched a surprise attack on Israel on Yom Kippur in a bid to regain their lost territories. Nixon’s airlift of much needed arms to Israel in the second phase of the war showed that he was willing to back Israel against the Soviet-armed Arab states when it counted.

The president’s increasing support for Israel as a geopolitical ally paralleled his intensified commitment to broker Arab-Israeli peace. In order to end the 1973 war, Nixon supported the passage of UN Resolution 338, which called for a ceasefire between Israel and the Arab states and the implementation of UN Resolution 242 in all its parts. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger initiated shuttle diplomacy between Israel and Egypt in the aftermath of the war in an attempt to push through a peace deal and promote U.S. ties with the conservative Arab states. Nixon sought to end the Arab oil embargo, which the Arab members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), led by Saudi Arabia, had announced during the 1973 war to punish the United States for its support for Israel. Kissinger successfully negotiated an end to the Arab oil embargo and brokered what was known as the Sinai I agreement in 1974, which set the terms of an initial Israeli pullback from the Suez Canal.

With Nixon’s sudden resignation in 1974 due to the Watergate scandal, Gerald R. Ford, his vice president, succeeded him. Ford retained many of Nixon’s advisors as well as Nixon’s policy priorities regarding Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict. The new president sought to continue the “peace making” role that Nixon and Kissinger had revitalized. Ford was tough toward Israel, but he proved very willing to enhance U.S.-Israel relations if Israel made steps toward peace. In 1975, Ford threatened to reassess U.S.-Israel relations if Israel’s then-prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, did not agree to another disengagement agreement regarding the Sinai.

Ford also sought to improve relations with Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat, who had abruptly changed his geopolitical orientation after the 1973 war in a bid to obtain U.S. aid and end his country’s dependence on the Soviet Union. Along with Kissinger, who was still serving as the administration’s secretary of state, Ford threatened to convene a larger peace conference to put pressure on Israel if it did not engage in one-on-one talks with Sadat.

In order to reach a second interim agreement in 1975 between Israel and Egypt that called for further Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai, known as Sinai II, Ford agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Israelis encompassing military, economic, and diplomatic aid. In addition to earmarking $2 billion in aid for Israel, the agreement pledged that the United States would additionally refrain from engaging in diplomatic initiatives with respect to the Arab-Israeli conflict without first consulting the Israel government or negotiating with the PLO.

U.S.-Israel RelationsClick to view larger

Figure 2. President Richard Nixon standing with Prime Minister Golda Meir and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger outside the White House, 1973.

Library of Congress Reproduction Number LC-DIG-ds-01480.

Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan

Jimmy Carter was preoccupied with advancing Arab-Israeli peace. He felt it was important to build on what Nixon and Ford had accomplished in this realm, and he and his main advisors also believed that it was essential to cultivate America’s Cold War alliances with the pro-Western Arab states. Moreover, in keeping with his interest in promoting human rights as part of his foreign policy, Carter was more sympathetic toward the plight of the Palestinians and, for the first time, recognized their national aspirations. In 1977, Carter said that he supported the idea of Palestinian refugees being granted a “homeland.”

By the fall of 1977, Carter and his national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, pressed Israel to move beyond interim agreements with Egypt and to attend a proposed Geneva Conference to conclude a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace accord. However, Carter could not induce right-wing Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin to participate because of the possibility that Israel would be pressured to make major territorial concessions on many fronts.

After the failure to convene a peace summit aimed at achieving comprehensive peace between Israel and the Arab states, Anwar Sadat decided to make a historic trip to Jerusalem in November 1977 to jump-start peace negotiations between Egypt and Israel. Carter at first opposed Sadat’s initiative because it had not been launched by the United States, but, to his credit, reversed course, and in the fall of 1978 was instrumental in helping Sadat and Begin reach a peace agreement, the Camp David Accords. This historic first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab state was signed on the White House lawn in the spring of 1979. As an incentive for Israel and Egypt to reach an agreement, Carter pledged additional military supplies and economic aid to Israel and also concluded a generous aid deal with Egypt.

Despite the major accomplishment of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty and the increases in U.S. aid to Israel during his presidency, Carter was irate when Israel invaded southern Lebanon in response to a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) terrorist attack launched from Lebanese territory. In addition, in the spring of 1978, the president proposed a controversial sale of America’s top fighter aircraft, the F-15, to Saudi Arabia, which both Israel and the American Jewish community vigorously opposed. Finally, in the fall of 1979, Carter’s UN ambassador, Andrew Young, was forced to resign in the face of domestic political pressure when it was revealed that he had arranged secret meetings with representatives of the PLO.

Ronald Reagan was a staunch personal supporter of Israel, and was less preoccupied with advancing Arab-Israeli peace than with supporting Israel in the Cold War. Reagan considered Israel a natural ally due to its pro-Western orientation and liberal democratic founding ideals. Reagan also counted many Christian evangelicals among his supporters in the Republican Party.

Despite Reagan’s commitment to strengthen U.S.-Israel ties upon entering the Oval Office, Israel undertook several actions early on that antagonized him and stalled his arms deliveries to the state. In 1981, Israel attempted to block congressional approval for Reagan’s sale of AWAC aircraft to Saudi Arabia. Additionally, frustrated by Syrian support for the PLO, Israel shot down two Syrian helicopters over the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon in April 1981. While Reagan felt that Israel had a right to respond to PLO and Syrian provocations, the UN condemned Israel’s action as aggression. Reagan urged Israel to accept a diplomatic resolution to the crisis. Relations were also harmed in June 1981, when Israel bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak without giving the United States any advance warning. Reagan condemned the attack and announced that the United States would be suspending delivery of F-16 aircraft to Israel.

Reagan’s belief in the Cold War rationale for strong U.S.-Israel relations prevailed, however, and in the fall of 1981, Reagan signed a memorandum of understanding with the Begin government that marked the official beginning of U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation. Yet after Israel invaded Lebanon in the summer of 1982 in an effort to clear Southern Lebanon of the PLO, Reagan threatened to reassess the relationship. Israel’s action was widely condemned in the international arena. In addition, as terrible scenes of violence in Lebanon emerged, Reagan was forced to take an interest in Arab-Israeli peace. In September 1982, the president announced his vision for Middle East peace, the Reagan Plan. The chances for the Reagan Plan’s success, however, were not great. That same month, the Israeli Army failed to prevent a massacre of Palestinians by Christian Phalange militia in refugee camps outside Beirut, again arousing the consternation of the Reagan administration. However, after the bombing of a U.S. Marine barracks near Beirut by Islamic militants in October 1983, and the Israeli government’s censure of Ariel Sharon and a number of other Israeli officials implicated in the massacres, Reagan was again focused on larger geopolitical concerns and determined to forge closer U.S.-Israel ties.

The Israeli government, now led by Likud hardliner Yitzhak Shamir, would play a role from July through September of 1985 in covertly and illicitly selling arms to Iran as part of Reagan’s arms-for-hostages deal, also known as the Iran-Contra Affair. In 1985, Israel withdrew most of its troops from south Lebanon, and the United States concluded a free-trade agreement with Israel. Marking further enhanced military-strategic ties, in 1987 Congress designated Israel a “major non-NATO ally.” The informal talks that Reagan had initiated between Israeli and American defense officials in the early 1980s culminated in a memorandum of understanding in 1988 that formalized U.S.-Israel military-strategic relations and enshrined Israel’s status as a full ally.

U.S.-Israel RelationsClick to view larger

Figure 3. Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, President Jimmy Carter, and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin signing the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty on the White House Lawn, 1979.

Library of Congress Reproduction Number LC-DIG-ppmsca-03424.

George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton

The Bush administration was forced to devote greater attention to Arab-Israeli peace. In 1988, the First Palestinian Intifada, or rebellion, had erupted against Israeli rule in the Occupied Territories. In addition, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had agreed to recognize Israel’s right to exist and to accept UN Resolutions 242 and 338 in 1988, thereby signaling its interest in becoming a partner in peace negotiations with Israel.

Bush personally had little emotional attachment to Israel and felt that it needed to cooperate to a greater degree in advancing Arab-Israeli peace in return for U.S. support. He was preoccupied with promoting stability in the Middle East and reinforcing America’s ties with its conservative Arab allies. The president also felt that Israeli settlements in the territories it had occupied during the 1967 war were wrong and impeded the progress toward Arab-Israeli peace agreements. In March 1990, Bush expressed objection to “new settlements in the West Bank or in East Jerusalem,” which created a furor in the American Jewish community and Israeli circles.6

However, like his predecessors, Bush could be depended upon to defend Israel against threats and to treat Israel as a pro-Western ally in the Middle East. After Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait in 1990, Saddam Hussein threatened Israel with rocket attacks. In order to keep Israel from pre-emptively attacking Iraq, Bush agreed to place the United States in the role of Israel’s protector and to enhance U.S.-Israel military and intelligence cooperation. During and after the 1990–1991 Gulf War, intelligence sharing, joint military exercises, and personal relationships among military personnel in Israel and the United States reached new levels. Patriot anti-missile batteries were sent to Israel, and the Bush administration also substantially funded Israel’s Arrow anti-missile program.

Despite this heightened U.S.-Israel military-strategic cooperation, Bush’s relations with the American Jewish community and Israel continued to be fraught over the issue of Israeli settlements. Following the Gulf War, Bush opposed $50 million in loan guarantees to the Israeli government, which would have helped settle Soviet Jews in the country, as long as Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir continued to authorize Jewish settlements.

Yet Bush’s stern reaction to Israeli settlements and his strong relationship with America’s Arab allies would help to prod Israel and the Arab states to the negotiating table for the first time. One of the major achievements of the Bush administration was the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991, which included representatives from Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and the Palestinian Territories, who were part of a joint Jordanian delegation coordinating closely with the PLO. Acceding to political pressures, Bush also agreed to a loan guarantee package in August 1992, but he added a proviso that the funds could not be spent on building housing or infrastructure in the settlements.

Bill Clinton built on Bush’s legacy, though it came late in his presidency, of attempted peacemaking between Israel and the Arab states, and, for the first time, between Israel and the Palestinians. Unlike his predecessor, however, Clinton was much more emotionally and personally involved in the peace process. He had a close relationship with American Jews and brought more Jews into his administration than any previous president. With Yitzhak Rabin, Clinton also had one of the closest and warmest relationships with an Israeli prime minister of any previous American president.

A secret dialogue between Israel and the PLO had been suspended in 1990 but was resumed during covert talks held in Oslo, Norway, in the early 1990s. Based on these talks, Clinton arranged for PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Rabin to sign the Oslo Declaration of Principles on the White House Lawn in 1993, which established a framework for negotiations that would lead to a two-state solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Clinton administration helped maintain the Oslo negotiations despite difficulties posed by such events as the massacre of Muslim worshipers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron by a Jewish fanatic in 1994 and the increasing frequency of suicide bombings in Israel in the 1990s perpetrated by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad Movement.

In 1994, Clinton helped to negotiate the Gaza-Jericho Agreement that established the Palestinian National Authority, a governing body that would enable the Palestinians to exert limited self-government in the Occupied Territories. Clinton also hosted peace talks that would culminate in the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty, the Washington Declaration. The following year, in July, Clinton arbitrated the interim agreement between Rabin and Arafat that divided the West Bank into areas of Palestinian and Israeli control to prepare the territory for eventual Palestinian statehood.

Six weeks after the signing of the agreement, a Jewish extremist opposed to the Oslo Accords assassinated Rabin. Shimon Peres succeeded him but was replaced shortly after by Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu. A right-wing politician, Netanyahu was committed to the retention of Israel’s post-1967 borders, which resembled the boundaries of Biblical Eretz Yisrael. In part because Clinton was unwilling or unable to pressure Netanyahu to halt settlement construction, additional efforts by the Clinton administration to advance the Olso Accords, such as at the Wye River conference in 1998, were unsuccessful. Israeli settlement projects eroded Palestinian confidence in Israel’s commitment to advancing a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Likewise, the continuation of Palestinian suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks in the 1990s encouraged many Israelis to become fearful of the Palestinians and skeptical of their willingness to live side by side in peace with Israelis.

Clinton greeted the election of Labor Party leader Ehud Barak in 1999 as an opportunity to revive stalled progress toward Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian peace. Yet after Barak’s election, Clinton failed to bring about a peace agreement between Israel and Syria or induce Arafat and Barak to reach a peace agreement at the Camp David summit in the summer of 2000, and again in January 2001 in Washington. The chasm between what the respective parties sought as terms for final peace treaties was too great.

U.S.-Israel RelationsClick to view larger

Figure 4. Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, President Bill Clinton, and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat after signing the Oslo I Peace Accords on the White House Lawn, 1993.

Courtesy of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library; National Archives and Records Administration.

George W. Bush and Barack Obama

With the Oslo peace process at an apparent dead end, George W. Bush was not initially focused on crafting policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict. Bush did, however, come into office a staunch supporter of Israel. As governor of Texas, Bush had visited Israel in 1998, and this trip reinforced his view that Israel needed America’s support in the context of the outbreak of the Second Palestinian Intifada in 2000. In addition, as a born-again Christian, Bush counted many pro-Israel Christian evangelicals among his supporters.

Bush would be forced to recalibrate his unquestioning support for Israel in early 2001, however, when the Saudi crown prince sent Bush a letter threatening to reassess the U.S.-Saudi alliance if the American president did not take a greater interest in Arab-Israeli peace. In turn, Bush sent a letter to Ariel Sharon in March 2001 admonishing him to avoid expanding settlements in the Occupied Territories.

The devastating terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda on the United States on September 11, 2001, derailed Bush’s new approach. Despite the fact that the terrorists cited the U.S.-Israel alliance as one of their primary motivations for attacking the U.S., the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, had the opposite effect of strengthening U.S.-Israel relations as Bush drew closer to Sharon and more Americans began to identify with Israel, which had a longer experience with terrorism.7

Still, there were occasionally limits to Bush’s support. While the president supported Israel in its own “war on terror,” due to escalating scenes of violence, he also called on Sharon to pull out from Palestinian cities in the West Bank after Israel undertook Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 to uproot Hamas networks in the area. In addition to crystallizing his support for Israel, the September 11th attacks also refocused Bush on advancing Arab-Israeli peace as a means to promote stability in the region. Bush made a speech in 2002 setting forth his Roadmap plan for Arab-Israeli peace and calling for an independent Palestinian state once the Palestinians instituted democratic elections.

However, Bush would have difficulty implementing the Roadmap. By 2003, the president was preoccupied by the concern that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was attempting to acquire nuclear weapons and ordered an invasion of Iraq. In addition, Palestinian attacks against Israelis continued. Finally, Israeli settlements expanded, eroding the Palestinians’ faith in negotiations.

Despite Palestinian opposition to the settlements, Bush sent Sharon a letter in April 2004 essentially recognizing the permanence of certain settlement blocs in the Occupied Territories. Encouraged by the staunchness of Bush’s support, Sharon decided in 2005 to disengage from the Gaza Strip unilaterally rather than negotiate with Arafat, while entrenching Israel’s position in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. Sharon’s construction of a Separation Barrier, or wall, in areas of East Jerusalem and the West Bank was intended to protect Israelis, but it also had the effect of sharply constricting Palestinian freedom of movement and annexing several settlement blocs to Israel proper.

U.S.-Israel RelationsClick to view larger

Figure 5. Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and President George W. Bush, 2004.

Courtesy of the White House Archives.

Ehud Olmert’s election as prime minister of Israel in 2006 fostered even closer U.S.-Israel cooperation during the late Bush administration due to Bush’s strong personal rapport with Olmert. Still, additional difficult moments in the U.S.-Israel relationship did arise. In January 2006, an ironic outcome of Bush’s support for democratic Palestinian elections was the election of Hamas as the governing party of Gaza. Following several rocket attacks launched by Hezbollah, a militant Islamic organization that continued to be based in South Lebanon after the Lebanese civil war, Israel began a military campaign in South Lebanon in 2006. Israel’s bombing of the southern Lebanese town of Qana resulted in disproportionate civilian causalities; Bush called the operation “awful.”8

Israel’s Lebanon War in 2006 provided additional impetus for Bush to advance Arab-Israeli peace. The Bush administration convened a peace conference, the Annapolis Conference, in 2007. Although the gathering failed to resolve any final status issues, the U.S.-Israel military-strategic relationship would grow stronger yet. In 2007, the Israelis consulted with the United States regarding their intention to bomb Syria’s nuclear reactor at Al Kibar before it went online.

Late in the Bush administration, the U.S. and Israel increasingly communicated mutual concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear project. In order to restrain Israel from engaging in additional military actions to prevent Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons, Bush signed a ten-year memorandum of understanding with Israel in 2008 pledging to maintain Israel’s qualitative military advantage. In December 2008, Israel prepared to launch another major military operation, this time against Gaza, in response to rocket attacks by Hamas from the Gaza Strip, which Hamas claimed were retaliation for the air, land, and sea blockade that Israel had imposed against Gaza after Hamas was elected. Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, initiated in January 2009 just prior to the inauguration of Barack Obama, boded ill for U.S.-Israel relations during his administration.

Barack Obama entered office seeking to differentiate his foreign policy from that of his predecessor, which had been characterized by very strong diplomatic support for Israel and military intervention in the Middle East. Obama was determined to advance a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and to build stronger relations between America and the Muslim and Arab worlds. At the outset of his administration, Obama appointed George Mitchell as the White House’s Middle East envoy to promote Arab-Israeli negotiations. Major friction soon developed between Obama and Netanyahu over Israeli settlements. Obama demanded that Netanyahu enact a “settlement freeze” as a precondition to negotiating with Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas. Several months later, Obama gave a speech in Cairo in which he declared that he did not consider Israel’s settlements “legitimate” and that it was time for the settlements to cease because their construction conflicted with “previous agreements” and “efforts to achieve peace.”9 Netanyahu was deeply chagrined as a result of Obama’s speech and his failure to visit Israel after his trip to the Arab states in 2009.

Nevertheless, in the autumn of 2009, Netanyahu reluctantly agreed to a ten-month moratorium on new housing starts in the settlements. However, the announcement of new settlements in an East Jerusalem neighborhood during the visit of Vice President Joseph Biden to Israel in March 2010 infuriated the Obama administration. A looming crisis was partly averted, however, when Obama interceded on Israel’s behalf to repair relations between Israel and another U.S. ally, Turkey, after Israel killed nine Turkish citizens during the raid of a Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, that was attempting to break the blockade of Gaza in 2010. Disheartened by Netanyahu’s policy on settlements, Abbas unilaterally but unsuccessfully petitioned the UN in 2011 for recognition of the Palestinian state. Mitchell resigned his post as mediator that same year.

In addition to their deadlock over the two-state solution, Obama and Netanyahu held sharply conflicting views regarding the best means to contain Iran’s nuclear program. Although Obama was committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities, he was interested in pursuing a diplomatic solution to the problem in order to avert war. Netanyahu considered the Iranian nuclear program as an existential threat, as Iran was publicly committed to Israel’s destruction. He did not trust that Iran’s leaders would honor any agreement, and sought U.S. support for a military option.

U.S.-Israel disagreements over the peace process and Iran were slightly ameliorated, however, after popular uprisings in the Arab world erupted in 2011, and an extremist group called the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or Daesh, began to spread in the region. Although Obama initially expressed rhetorical support for the “Arab Spring,” he became most interested in containing regional instability and thwarting the rise of radical groups such as ISIS as upheaval spread. This was also Israel’s priority. Beginning in 2011, despite the deterioration of relations between Netanyahu and Obama, the United States and Israel embarked on unprecedented cooperation in the military and intelligence spheres. In 2012, Obama authorized additional American assistance to Israel in developing its Iron Dome anti-missile program. He also approved a new approach to evaluating and upgrading Israel’s qualitative military edge.

Obama’s continued interest during his second term in pushing a two-state solution and concluding a nuclear deal with Iran again exposed deep fissures in his relationship with Netanyahu. In the summer of 2013, Obama empowered his secretary of state, John Kerry, to embark on nine months of negotiations in the pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian peace. His efforts were frustrated. With Arab-Israeli peace negotiations at a standstill, Israel engaged in the summer of 2014 in another bombardment of Gaza in response to rocket attacks. Israel’s Operation Protective Edge caused massive destruction in Gaza, further straining relations between Obama and Netanyahu.

In the summer of 2015, Obama concluded a nuclear deal with Iran, arousing intense Israeli anxieties. As a conciliatory measure toward Netanyahu, Obama released Jonathan Pollard, an American who had spied for Israel, from prison in November 2015. Nevertheless, it was increasingly clear that nothing would repair Obama and Netanyahu’s acrimonious relationship. Late in his second term, Obama repeated his concern that the peace process continue, given the context of rising violence in the Occupied Territories, mainly “lone wolf” stabbings and vehicular attacks against Israelis in East Jerusalem and the West Bank between 2014 and 2016. Despite this, Netanyahu stated his opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state on the campaign trail for re-election in 2015. Netanyahu fundamentally considered the West Bank, which he referred to by its Biblical names, Judea and Samaria, and East Jerusalem, due to its holy sites, as integral parts of Israel. By the end of the Obama administration, U.S.-Israel military-strategic cooperation remained exceptionally strong, but sharp disagreements remained over the peace process and the best means to contain Iran’s nuclear program.

U.S.-Israel RelationsClick to view larger

Figure 6. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, 2014.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.

Discussion of the Literature

Scholarship on U.S.-Israel relations often focuses on the development of the military and strategic, as well as political, aspects of the relationship and on America’s role in attempting to advance Arab-Israeli and, later, Israeli-Palestinian peace. Early studies of U.S. relations with Israel include Nadav Safran’s Israel: The Embattled Ally (1981), Stephen Green’s Taking Sides: America’s Relationship with a Militant Israel, 1948–1967 (1984), Stephen L. Spiegel’s The Other Arab-Israeli Conflict: Making America’s Middle East Policy, from Truman to Reagan (1985), and George Lenczowski’s American Presidents and the Middle East (1989). More contemporary studies of U.S.-Israel relations include Alexander Cockburn and Leslie Cockburn’s Dangerous Liaisons: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israel Covert Relationship (1992), Peter L. Hahn’s Caught in the Middle East: U.S. Policy toward the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1945–1961 (2004), and David Schoenbaum’s The United States and the State of Israel (1993).

With regard to individual presidents, Arab-Israeli policies have been examined to varying degrees in scholarly journals or in books. For books on Truman’s relationship with Israel, see Ronald Radosh and Allis Radosh’s A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel (2009) and John B. Judis’s Genesis: Truman, American Jews, and the Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (2014). For books on the Eisenhower and Kennedy administration’s policies toward the Arab-Israeli conflict, see Isaac Alteras’s Eisenhower and Israel: U.S.-Israeli Relations, 1953–1960 (1993), Abraham Ben-Zvi’s John F. Kennedy and the Politics of Arms Sales to Israel (2002), and Warren Bass’s Support Any Friend: Kennedy’s Middle East and the Making of the U.S.-Israel Alliance (2003). For examination of elements of Johnson’s Arab-Israeli policies, see William B. Quandt’s Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict since 1967 (1993), Abraham Ben-Zvi’s Lyndon B. Johnson and the Politics of Arms Sales to Israel: In the Shadow of the Hawk (2004), and Robert David Johnson’s Lyndon Johnson and Israel: The Secret Presidential Recordings (2008). For analysis of Nixon’s policies towards Israel, see Noam Kochavi’s Nixon and Israel: Forging a Conservative Partnership (2009).

Within the literature on U.S.-Israel relations, there are those scholars who assert that American Jews’ political influence and the Israel Lobby are responsible for artificially engineering the U.S.-Israel alliance. See, for example, John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt’s The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (2007), Grant F. Smith’s Foreign Agents: The American Israel Public Affairs Committee from the 1963 Fulbright Hearings to the 2005 Espionage Scandal (2007), and Grant F. Smith’s America’s Defense Line: The Justice Department’s Battle to Register the Israel Lobby as Agents of a Foreign Government (2008).

There are others, however, who argue that more complex cultural, ideological, and strategic factors have engendered U.S. support for Israel. Earlier works within this school include H.W. Brands’s Into the Labyrinth: The U.S. and the Middle East, 1945–1993 (1994), Kamil Mansour’s Beyond Alliance: Israel in U.S. Foreign Policy (1994), and Peter Novick’s The Holocaust in American Life (1999). More recent contributions include Melani McAlister’s Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and U.S. Interests in the Middle East, 1945–2000 (2001), Douglas Little’s American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East since 1945 (2002), Salim Yaqub’s Containing Arab Nationalism: The Eisenhower Doctrine and the Middle East (2004), Michelle Mart’s Eye on Israel: How America Came to View the Jewish State as an Ally (2006), Michael Tracy Thomas’s American Policy Toward Israel: The Power and Limits of Beliefs (2007), and Keith P. Feldman’s A Shadow over Palestine: The Imperial Life of Race in America (2015).

In keeping with this turn in the literature, more recent works have focused on the manner in which religion has influenced American support for Israel. See for instance, Victoria Clark, Allies for Armageddon: The Rise of Christian Zionism (2007), Stephen Spector, Evangelicals and Israel: The Story of American Christian Zionism (2009), Caitlin Carenen, The Fervent Embrace: Liberal Protestants, Evangelicals, and Israel (2012), and Eran Shalev, American Zion: The Old Testament as A Political Text from the Revolution to the Civil War (2013). Broader studies that address this topic include Michael B. Oren, Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present (2007), William B. Inboden, Religion and American Foreign Policy, 1945–1960: The Soul of Containment (2008), and Andrew Preston, Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy (2012).

The roles of the National Security Council (NSC) and the State and Defense Departments in advising presidents on America’s policy toward the Middle East have also been an increasing locus of study of the formation of the U.S.-Israel alliance. These studies have argued that the president and the NSC were more willing to diverge from inherited Arab-Israeli policy frameworks promoted by officials in the State and Defense Departments. Works that illuminate this subject include Abraham Ben-Zvi’s John F. Kennedy and the Politics of Arms Sales to Israel (2002), Abraham Ben-Zvi’s Lyndon B. Johnson and the Politics of Arms Sales to Israel: In the Shadow of the Hawk (2004), Mitchell Bard’s The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance that Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East (2010), and Dennis Ross’s Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama (2015).

Primary Sources

There are many English-language primary source materials useful to students and researchers of the history of U.S.-Israel relations. The most critical sources for studying the American side of the relationship are located at the National Archives II in College Park, Maryland, and the presidential libraries in the United States.

The Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series and the Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States are two other excellent primary source resources for researching U.S.-Israel relations. In addition, the National Security Archive at Georgetown University, the Miller Center at the University of Virginia, the American Presidency Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the Wilson Center’s Cold War International History Project have digitized many relevant primary source materials.10

The ProQuest database is a resource for researching archived editions of major U.S. newspapers for articles on U.S.-Israel relations over the decades. It may also be interesting to students and researchers to examine predominantly Jewish-operated journals, Commentary magazine and The Public Interest, as well as the newsletter of the early U.S. Israel Lobby, The Near East Report, for their perspective on U.S. policy toward Israel. The public statements of congresspersons in The Congressional Record would also be also highly useful for studying the evolution of congressional positions on Israel.

Archives containing the papers of American Jewish groups, congresspersons, and other individuals highly supportive of Israel or the American Zionist movement are also important for researching the U.S.-Israel relationship. Many useful papers are located at the American Jewish Historical Society in New York City and the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Israel State Archives, as well as the Abba Eban Papers housed at the Harry Truman Center for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, contain some English-language documents that would be of interest to researchers of U.S.-Israel ties.

In addition, English-language memoirs and other writings by U.S. and Israeli officials and other prominent individuals who had involvement in U.S.-Israel relations over the decades are useful primary sources.11 The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also assembled a collection of useful documents on its website.12

Speeches and other translated writings by Arab officials and public figures additionally offer a unique perspective on U.S.-Israel relations.13 Finally, several works of secondary literature on the Arab-Israeli conflict and the U.S.-Israel relationship include primary source documents that are central to the evolution of the U.S.-Israel alliance and U.S. efforts to mediate the Arab-Israeli conflict.14

State Department Historical Documents. This website contains governmental records pertaining to the major foreign policy decisions and developments in U.S. foreign policy; including those relating to Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

State Department Historical Milestones. This State Department website summarizes major events in U.S. diplomatic history, including those that involved U.S.-Israel relations.

Public Papers of the Presidents. This site contains the major speeches and pronouncements of American presidents, including presidential statements issued during official visits of Israeli Prime Ministers to the United States.

Center for Jewish History: Finding Aid. This collection consists of documents pertaining to Jewish history and includes the papers of American Jews and American Jewish organizations that were historically active in influencing U.S.-Israel relations.

Jewish Virtual Library. This website presents materials pertaining to the U.S.-Israel relationship over successive American administrations.

American Jewish Archives: Finding Aid. This collection offers a wealth of primary source material useful for researching the involvement of various American Jews and American Jewish organizations in the creation of the U.S.-Israel alliance.

Harry S. Truman Library & Museum Collection. This website showcases significant primary source documents relating to the Truman administration’s policy towards Israel.

George Washington University National Security Archive. This website provides primary source material, much of it recently declassified, that is helpful to research the progression of U.S. policy towards Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Wilson Center Cold War International History Project (CWIHP). This collection presents primary source material from countries that were involved in the Cold War. It is an asset to researchers seeking to place the history of the U.S.-Israel alliance in a broader historical framework of the Cold War.

PBS Frontline: “Netanyahu at War”. This Website enables viewers to watch the video recording of PBS Frontline’s episode on the often-fraught relationship between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Further Reading

Alteras, Isaac. Eisenhower and Israel: U.S.-Israel Relations, 1953–1960. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1993.Find this resource:

Bass, Warren. Support Any Friend: Kennedy’s Middle East and the Making of the U.S.-Israel Alliance. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Ben-Zvi, Abraham. Lyndon B. Johnson and the Politics of Arms Sales to Israel: In the Shadow of the Hawk. London: Frank Cass, 2004.Find this resource:

Christison, Kathleen. Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence on U.S. Middle East Policy. London: University of California Press, 1999.Find this resource:

Hahn, Peter L.Caught in the Middle East: U.S. Policy toward the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1945–1961. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.Find this resource:

Judis, John B.Genesis: Truman, American Jews, and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014.Find this resource:

Lenczowski, George. American Presidents and the Middle East. London: Duke University Press, 1989.Find this resource:

Little, Douglas. American Orientalism: The U.S. and the Middle East since 1945. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002.Find this resource:

McAlister, Melani. Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and U.S. Interests in the Middle East, 1945–2000. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.Find this resource:

John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt. The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. New York: Farrar, Straux, and Giroux, 2007.Find this resource:

Oren, Michael B.Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present. London: W. W. Norton, 2007.Find this resource:

Quandt, William B.Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict since 1967. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.Find this resource:

Schoenbaum, David. The United States and the State of Israel. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.Find this resource:

Spiegel, Steven L.The Other Arab-Israeli Conflict: Making America’s Middle East Policy, from Truman to Reagan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.Find this resource:

Thomas, Michael Tracy. American Policy toward Israel: The Power and Limits of Beliefs. London: Routledge, 2007.Find this resource:

Notes:

(1.) Partial text of the Balfour Declaration cited in Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World (London: Penguin, 2001), 7.

(2.) For discussion of the causes and consequences of the first Arab-Israeli War, see Eugene Rogan, The Arabs: A History (New York: Basic Books, 2009), 254–276; and Howard M. Sachar, A History of Israel from the Rise of Zionism to Our Time (New York: Knopf, 1976), 315–336, 347–353.

(3.) Regarding the controversy surrounding the origins and just solution of the Palestinian refugee problem, see Zachary Lockman, “Original Sin,” Middle East Report 152 (May–June 1988): 57–64. See also Avi Shlaim, “The Debate about 1948,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 27.3 (August 1995): 287–304. Also see Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, 2d ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 1–8, 588–601.

(4.) Egypt was called the United Arab Republic (UAR) from 1958 to 1972.

(5.) In this connection, see Ziv Rubinovitz, “Blue and White ‘Black September’: Israel’s Role in the Jordan Crisis of 1970,” International History Review 32.4 (December 2010): 687–706.

(6.) Thomas Friedman, “Bush Questions Israeli Claims to East Jerusalem, Creating Uproar,” New York Times, March 9, 1990, accessed January 2, 2017.

(7.) Shai Feldman quoted in Sheryl Gay Stolber, “Bush and Israel: Unlike his Father,” The International Herald Tribune, August 2, 2006, accessed January 2, 2017.

(8.) John M. Broder, “Bush Calls Attack on Qana ‘Awful,’ but Refrains From Calling for Immediate Cease-Fire,” New York Times, August 1, 2006, accessed January 2, 2017.

(9.) Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “Remarks by the President at Cairo University, 6-04-09,” accessed, January 2, 2017.

(10.) For citations to many relevant primary sources pertaining specifically to the Cold War’s influence on U.S.-Israel relations, see Yazid Sayigh and Avi Shlaim, eds., The Cold War and the Middle East (Oxford: Clarendon, 1997).

(11.) For instance, see Harry S. Truman, Memoirs by Harry S. Truman, Vol. I: Year of Decisions (New York: Doubleday, 1955); Shimon Peres, David’s Sling (New York: Random House, 1970); Lyndon B. Johnson, The Vantage Point: Perspectives on the Presidency, 1963–1969 (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1972); Golda Meir, My Life (New York: Putnam, 1975); Moshe Dayan, Story of My Life (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1976); Teddy Kollek, For Jerusalem: A Life (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1978); Yitzhak Rabin, The Rabin Memoirs (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979); Rafael Gideon, Destination Peace: Three Decades of Israeli Foreign Policy (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1981); Isaiah L. Kenen, Israel’s Defense Line: Her Friends and Foes in Washington (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1981); Dean Rusk, As I Saw It: A Secretary of State’s Memoirs (London: Tauris, 1991); and Abba Eban, Personal Witness: Israel Through My Eyes (London: Cape, 1993).

(12.) See also the printed edition of Israel’s Foreign Relations: Selected Documents, 1947–1974 (Jerusalem: Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 1976); interviews with Israeli government officials cited in Patrick Tyler, Fortress Israel: The Inside Story of the Military Elite Who Run the Country—And Why They Can’t Make Peace (New York: Farrar, Straux, and Giroux, 2012); translation of Israeli government sources in Shlaim, The Iron Wall; and sources compiled in Terje Rod-Larsen, Nur Laiq, and Fabrice Aidan, The Search for Peace in the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Compendium of Documents and Analysis (Oxford: Oxford Univeristy Press, 2014).

(13.) Good examples are Gamal Abdel Nasser, President Gamal Abdel-Nasser’s Speeches and Press Interviews, 1958 (Cairo: UAR Information Department, 1958–1961); and Muhammad Hasanayn Haykal, Secret Channels: The Inside Story of Arab-Israeli Peace Negotiations (London: HarperCollins, 1996).

(14.) For instance, see Walter Laqueur and Barry Rubin, The Israel-Arab Reader: A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict, 4th ed. (New York: Facts on File Publications, 1985); and Charles D. Smith, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 6th ed. (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007).