February 20, 2018
American Officials on Zionism, Israel, the US-Israeli Relationship, and Directed Toward Resolving the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Selected Remarks, 1947-2018
September 22, 1947 – Loy Henderson, US Department of State, Head of Near Eastern Affairs
“The UNSCOP Majority Plan  is not only unworkable; if adopted, it would guarantee that the Palestine problem would be permanent and still more complicated in the future…The proposals contained in the UNSCOP plan are not only not based on any principles of an international character, the maintenance of which would be in the interests of the United States, but they are in definite contravention to various principles laid down in the Charter as well as to principle on which American concepts of Government are based…These proposals, for instance, ignore such principles as self-determination and majority rule. They recognize the principle of a theocratic racial state and even go so far in several instance as to discriminate on the grounds of religion and race against persons outside of Palestine…We are under no obligations to the Jews to set up a Jewish state. The Balfour Declaration and the Mandate provided not for a Jewish state, but for a Jewish national home. Neither the United States nor the British Government has ever interpreted the term ‘Jewish national home’ to be a Jewish national state.” Foreign Relations of the United States, “The Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs. Loy Henderson to the Secretary of State George C. Marshall,” Sept. 22, 1947.
March 15, 1948 – Clark Clifford, President Truman’s Special Counsel doubting impact of Arab oil if US supports a Jewish state
“It is argued that our Arabian oil supplies will be imperiled if we support the [UN] Assembly’s resolution for partition of Palestine. There are those who say that such a course of action will not get us oil, that the Arabs will not sell us oil if we back up the United Nations partition plan. The fact of the matter is that the Arab states must have oil royalties or go broke. For example, 90% of Saudi Arabia’s revenues come from American oil royalties. Their need of the United States is greater than our need for them. …the United States appears in the ridiculous role of trembling before threats of a few nomadic desert tribes. This has done us irreparable damage. Why should Russia or Yugoslavia, or any other nation treats us with anything but contempt in light of our shilly-shallying appeasement of the Arabs. After all, the only successful opposition to the Russian advance has been in Greece and Turkey. You proclaimed a bold policy and stood your ground. The Truman Doctrine, so far, has been the one outstanding success in a disintegrating situation.” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1948, Memorandum to President Truman, March 15, 1948, Vol. V, 1948, pp. 694-95.
February 24, 1948 – US Government Views Opposing Jewish State after November 1947 Partition Vote, https://israeled.org/resources/documents/us-governments-future-position-palestine/
August 21, 1955 – Secretary of State John Foster Dulles
“What are the principal remaining problems? They are those which were unresolved by the armistices of 1949 which ended the fighting between Israelis and Arabs. Before taking up these problems specifically, I would first pay high tribute to what the United Nations has done to preserve tranquillity and to serve humanity in the area. Despite these indispensable efforts, three problems remain that conspicuously require to be solved.
The first is the tragic plight of the 900,000 refugees who formerly lived in the territory that is now occupied by Israel. These uprooted people should, through resettlement and—to such an extent as may be feasible —repatriation, be enabled to resume a life of dignity and self-respect. To this end, there is need to create more arable land where refugees can find permanent homes and gain their own livelihood through their own work.
The second is the pall of fear that hangs over the Arab and Israel people alike. The Arab countries fear that Israel will seek by violent means to expand at their expense. The Israelis fear that the Arabs will gradually marshal superior forces to be used to drive them into the sea, and they suffer from the economic measures now taken against them.
The third is the lack of fixed permanent boundaries between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The United States, as a friend of both Israelis and Arabs, has given the situation deep and anxious thought and has come to certain conclusions, the expression of which may help men of good will within the area to fresh constructive efforts.
I speak in this matter with the authority of President Eisenhower. Compensation is due from Israel to the refugees. However, it may be that Israel cannot, unaided, now make adequate compensation. If so, there might be an international loan to enable Israel to pay the compensation which is due and which would enable many of the refugees to find for themselves a better way of life. President Eisenhower has authorized me to say that, given a solution of the other related problems, he would recommend that the United States join in formal treaty engagements to prevent or thwart any effort by either side to alter by force the boundaries between Israel and its Arab neighbors. . The existing lines separating Israel and the Arab States were fixed by the armistice agreements of 1949. They were not designed to be permanent frontiers in every respect; in part, at least, they reflected the status of the fighting at the moment. If agreement can be reached on these basic problems of refugees, fear, and boundaries, it should prove possible to find solutions for other questions, largely economic, which presently fan the flames of hostility and resentment.
It should also be possible to reach agreement on the status of Jerusalem. The United States would give its support to a United Nations review of this problem.” Remarks by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, August 21, 1955, Department of State Bulletin, Vol. 33, July – September 1955, pp. 378-380.
January 1957 – Secretary of State John Foster Dulles
“If the United states does not make itself felt strongly in the [Middle East] area, I think it is ‘curtains” for Israel.” John Foster Dulles, Testimony Executive Session of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, January 2, 1957. Foreign Relations of the United States- Near East, Vol. 9, p. 29.
June 19, 1967 – President Lyndon Johnson’s Five Principles of Peace
“[Fundamental right] to live in peace, justice for refugees, protection of maritime rights, restricting arms race, respect for political independence and territorial integrity of all states. And “return to the situation as it was on June 4 is not a prescription for peace but for renewed hostilities.” https://israeled.org/resources/documents/lyndon-johnsons-five-principles-peace/
December 29, 1967 – Harold Saunders, National Security Council
“We’ll make sure Israel has our political support and equipment it needs to defend itself. But we can’t tie ourselves to ‘fortress’ Israel, especially if Israel gets SSMS or decides to build nuclear weapons.” Remarks by Harold Saunders, National Security Advisor, Middle East, “Rough Sketch of Package for Eshkol,” December 29, 1967, Countries: Israel, Box 144, National Security Files, LBJ Library.
1968 – President Lyndon Johnson
“We can’t support an Israel that sits tight [vis a vis] the territories. The Israelis should be avoiding permanent moves in [the] occupied lands [and by foreswearing “nuclear weapons and missiles.” Eshkol could have the Skyhawks, but unless Israel endorsed UN Resolution 242 and renewed its pledge not to go nuclear, there would be no Phantoms.” Quoted in Douglas Little,” The United States and Israel, 1957-1968,” International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Vol 25, No. 4 (Nov 1993), pp. 579.
1969 – Joseph Sisco, Under-Secretary for Political Affairs
“Our interests in the Middle East do not center on Israel alone. Our moral and practical commitment to Israel is by no means toward everything Israel wants or does. Let me tell you frankly: If our friendship with Israel is the only thing the United States is left with in the Middle East, that will be a catastrophic setback for American policy. We must work for a political solution because it is the only thing that will safeguard our own array of [national] interests in the region.” Remarks by Joseph Sisco, Under-Secretary for Political Affairs, US Department of State to Israel Ambassador to the US. Yitzhak Rabin, circa June 1969, as quoted in Yitzhak Rabin, The Rabin Memoirs, Boston: Little Brown and Co, 1979, p.149.
1971 – President Nixon to H.R. Haldeman, White House Chief of Staff
“Convinced by Rogers that Sadat was mellowing in his attitude towards Israel and that the expulsion of Soviet military advisers from Egypt could be had in exchange for Israeli carrots, he authorized the secretary to press the Israelis into an interim agreement on the Suez Canal, providing this explanation: ‘[I]t is essential that no more aid programs for Israel be approved until they agree to some kind of interim action on the Suez or some other issue…the interests of the United States will be served […] by tilting the policy […] on the side of 100 million Arabs rather than on the side of two million Israelis.’ In June, Nixon coupled word with deed and suspended the delivery of Phantoms, telling his chief of staff and confidante H.R. Haldeman that he would not ‘play the Jewish game’ of ‘strin[ging] us along until the elections […] when they hope to replace us. Noam Kochavi, “Joining the Conservative Brotherhood: Israel, President Nixon, and the political consolidation of the ‘special relationship’, 1969-73. Cold War History. Vol 8, No. 4, November 2008, pp. 460.
Early 1970s – David Korn, US State Department official
“Things were still under the shadow of the 1967 war. The feeling was that we had some moral commitment to the Israelis. We left them to go alone. We didn’t fulfill on this commitment. We arranged their withdrawal from Sinai in 1957 and the UN forces and all that and gave some commitments there, but they were not hard and fast. When Nasser sent his forces into the Sinai in 1967 and closed the Straits of Tiran, the Johnson Administration flailed around. It was too heavily committed in Vietnam to be able to mount a real effort in the Middle East. Then finally the Israelis took things into their own hands. This really meant that the United States was not pushing the Israelis very hard on anything. (Korn started his Foreign Service career in 1956 and left the department in the late 1970s. Korn served in various positions working primarily on Arab-Israeli and Arab affairs. He was a desk officer during the 1967 war, was the State Department official who handled Henry Kissinger’s visit to Damascus in December 1973, and among other assignments, he staffed several negotiating missions in the aftermath of Sadat’s 1977 visit to Jerusalem. Interview with David A. Korn, Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project; Charles Stuart Kennedy December 11, 1990.
1970s – Hal Saunders, US State Department official
“Frankly speaking, the Israeli lobby in the United States has created a number of American anti-Semites. The people you mentioned were on the Israeli “character assassination” list. If you look in the editions of the “Near East Report” over the years, you can see how certain people who were significantly involved in Middle East policy development were treated. Many of them were subjected to character assassination. It is to these officials’ credit that they made pro-US policy and did not succumb to lobbying pressures. In the days when the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee was run by a humane person like Isaiah (Sy) Kenan, the Department’s NEA assistant secretaries and their deputies had very good relationships with the Israeli lobby. Then the dialogue was civil and serious. I don’t think that Isaiah (Sy) Kenan would ever have maligned the State officials as some of the other Israeli publicists did later.” Remarks by Harold Saunders, Undersecretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, Oral History Interview, US, Department of State, November 24, 1993.
March 1975 – Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to President Ford
A breakdown in negotiations over the second phase of Israeli disengagement from the Sinai—Prime Minister Rabin had rejected President Sadat’s offer–led Ford and Kissinger to threaten a re-evaluation of U.S. policy. A phone conversation between Kissinger and Max Fisher, a Republican supporter active in Jewish causes, captured the state of tension as controversy over Sinai II unfolded. The next day, speaking with President Ford, Kissinger said that “Fisher called me in a state of agitation.” Believing that the Israelis were being uncooperative and worried that the U.S. Jewish community would attack the administration’s step-by-step diplomacy, Kissinger advised Ford that “We have to show Israel that we are a great power and they don’t run our foreign policy.” Foreign Relations Documents of the United States, 1968-1976.
December 17, 1975 – Henry Kissinger, US Secretary of State
“We don’t need Israel for influence in the Arab world. On the contrary, Israel does us more harm than good in the Arab world. You yourself said your objection to us is Israel. Except maybe that we are capitalists. We can’t negotiate about the existence of Israel, but we can reduce its size to historical proportions. I don’t agree that Israel is a permanent threat. How can a nation of three million be a permanent threat? They have a technical advantage now. But it is inconceivable that peoples with wealth and skill and the tradition of the Arabs won’t develop the capacity that is needed. So I think in ten to fifteen years, Israel will be- like Lebanon—struggling for existence, with no influence in the Arab world. If the issue is the existence of Israel, we can’t cooperate. But if the issue is more normal borders, we can cooperate.” Memorandum of Conversation between Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Saddun Hammadi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Iraq, December 17, 1975.
March 1977 – President Jimmy Carter
“In Keeping Faith, you say your meeting with Yitzhak Rabin was an “unpleasant surprise”–those were your terms there, “unpleasant surprise.” You went on to speak about his strange reticence to speak about the negotiating progress. Was it the substance or was it the format that surprised you about Rabin?
Carter: The fact that he had no interest in it at all.
JC: It was just like talking to a dead fish. I was so committed at that time to move forward with Rabin, with Hussein, with Sadat, and with Assad. And when Rabin came, whom I had known before–he had just been in Atlanta in 1972–and when I went and visited (it may have been 1971), when I visited Israel, Rabin flew back from (as Governor), he flew back from South Africa just to be with me, he was down on a diamond-buying mission. And so he was kind of my host in Israel and had arranged for Golda Meir to furnish us a driver in Israel, so I was looking forward to meeting with Rabin, you know, as kind of a peg on which I could hang my whole Mideast peace ambitions. And he was absolutely and totally uninterested.” Ken Stein interview with Jimmy Carter, Atlanta, Georgia, February 19, 1991.
1978 – Roy Atherton, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs
“Israelis were worried about being stampeded about starting down the slippery slope [withdrawal to the 1967 lines]. There was inadequate understanding of the sort of political psychology of Israel, and how you deal with the Israelis, and what their own complexes and hang-ups were. And Carter and Brzezinski and company talked to them without really understanding how difficult some of these issues were in terms of their domestic political [world].” Ken Stein interview with Roy Atherton, formerly Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Washington, DC. October 30, 1992.
1978 – Zbigniew Brzezinski, US National Security Advisor
According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s National Security Adviser, Carter, “increasingly frustrated by Begin’s provocations on the settlements decided to increase the number of planes to Egypt…” Carter remarked to Brzezinski how irritated he was that some Senators like Frank Church had promised to support the arms package deal and then backed away. Brzezinski acknowledged that he developed the package deal as a “strategy to paralyze the powerful Israeli lobby on the Hill.” Said Carter, “it was striking the degree to which some senators are afraid to stand up for the American national interest and will simply do the bidding of a powerful lobby.” Zbigniew Brzezinski, Power and Principle, p 247-249.
1978 – Mark Siegel, Deputy to the White House Chief of Staff, Hamilton Jordan
Siegel’s recollection of Brzezinski’s anti-Israeli and anti-AIPAC sentiment, “there was an incident after the joint Soviet-American communiqué and all of the uproar about that. I scheduled a series of monthly meetings where I would bring in Jewish leadership into the White House in to the state dining room for luncheons. The President spoke once. The Vice President spoke once, whatever. There was one occasion where Brzezinski spoke, I don’t know if it was a solo speak or after, but no one else in the administration on a high level was there, but we had the cream of the crop, the President’s conference, I think. Someone was complaining about the . . . this was actually later on, now I remember it, but someone was complaining about the arms F-15 sale to Saudi Arabia, which ultimately led me to leave. So this had to be in February of 1978 and Brzezinski, remember the whole point of these meetings was to reassure the community.
May 1, 1978 – President Jimmy Carter
“My belief is that a permanent settlement will not include an independent Palestinian nation on the West Bank, my belief is that a permanent settlement will not call for a complete withdrawal of Israel from occupied territories. My belief is that a permanent settlement will be based substantially upon the home rule proposal [for the West Bank] that Prime Minister Begin has put forward. I have never favoured an independent Palestinian state. I still don’t favour one and I have no intention of deviating from that position. The suffering of European Jews under the Nazis in Germany has not been as vivid in the memory of most of us as it has been to the Jews themselves, particularly those whose families were among the victims. During World War II, we ignored –sometimes deliberately ignored –the suffering of European Jews under Hitler. I think this fact alone explains why Jews, particularly those in Israel, now feel that they cannot depend upon verbal assurances or written guarantees. It explains why Israelis seek to be self-sufficient, to rely upon themselves.” President Jimmy Carter, New York Post, May 1, 1978 as also quoted in Journal of Palestine Studies, Spring 1978, Vol. VII, No. 4, Issue 28, pp. 168-171.
November 11, 1978 – President Jimmy Carter
Carter told Anwar Sadat, “I will represent your interests as if they were my own. You are my brother. I hope I will never let you down. You are probably the most admired statesman in the US. On the other hand said ZB, “In contrast, exchanges between Carter and Begin were icy, and even mutual praise was formalistic and devoid of any personal feeling.” Zbigniew Brzezinski, Power and Principle, p. 284.
1991 – Morris Draper, Former US Ambassador to Lebanon, Career US Diplomat
“I met with such organizations like AIPAC (American Israel Political Action Committee) every once in a while. I met with Tom Dyne, the Executive Director. I met with him every January as what was called the “Javits report” was sent to Congress. That was the annual forecast of our security assistance sales for the coming year would be. I would brief them about what sales were anticipated in the Middle East. Occasionally, they would object to a specific anticipated sale–although since this was a briefing, we would not change our position–, but because of that annual briefing AIPAC was never surprised by our sale announcements. These meetings enabled me to defend our sales policies; then I would occasionally meet with AIPAC in other venues. I did not deal with them on a weekly basis, which did not enhance my standing with them; all of my predecessors had told me that relationships with AIPAC were difficult and tortured.
I met regularly with the Conference of Presidents of major Jewish Organizations, which represented all of the large Jewish groups in the US. Those sessions were separate and apart from my meetings with AIPAC. I felt that it was a disservice to American Jewish community for me to communicate with it only through AIPAC. The Conference of Presidents is a much broader organization than AIPAC. I also met regularly with the Presidents of major American-Arab organizations. I tried to cover as many of these constituent groups as I could–not only those interested in the Middle East, but also those representing former South Asian people.
AIPAC, and other constituent groups, have their own agendas and I doubt that any meeting that I might have with them would have changed their views. They had their views and our differing perceptions, freely expressed, is the core strength of a democracy.” Remarks by Morris Draper, Oral History Interview, US Ambassador to Lebanon, US Department of State, February 27, 1991, http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mfdip:@field(DOCID+mfdip2004dra01)
June 1992 – US Secretary of State James A. Baker
“The chill in [Israel] relations with the United States as a result of an intransigent settlements policy cost Likud dearly [in the June 1992 elections], because proper management of the US relationship is a must for any Israeli government to succeed. When we were accused of trying to dictate to Israel on a domestic policy matter (settlements), our position simply was that we weren’t saying Israelis weren’t free to live anywhere they chose, or that the government wasn’t free to build settlements in the territories—but simply that we weren’t going to furnish U.S. tax dollars to pursue a course that ran counter to American policy under all previous administrations, Republicans and Democrats.” James A. Baker, The Politics of Diplomacy, Putnam, 1995, pp. 555-556.
July 9, 1996 – Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Bill Clinton
Dennis Ross described Bibi Netanyahu’s first meeting with President Clinton in 1996: Noted Ross, after his election, “Bibi was overcome by hubris. He had surprised us all by winning: the Americans, the Israeli media, and even his own party leaders. Now he would prove to the world that he knew best how to deal with the Arabs and the Palestinians…he was coming to Washington not as leader of the [Israeli] opposition but as the Prime Minister of Israel—and he would teach us the realities of the Middle East, or at least that is what he thought. In the meeting with President Clinton, Netanyahu was nearly insufferable, lecturing and telling us how to deal with the Arabs. He would respect the Oslo agreement because a democratically elected government in Israel had adopted it, but there would have to be adjustments and new negotiations over part of it…After Netanyahu was gone, President Clinton observed: “He thinks he is the superpower and we are here to do whatever he requires.” No one on our side disagreed with that assessment.” Dennis Ross, The Missing Peace, Farrar Strauss and Giroux, 2004, pp. 261-262.
January 7, 2001 – US President Bill Clinton
“The fact is that the people of Israel dreamed of a homeland. The dream came through; but when they came home, the land was not all vacant. Your land is also their land, it is the homeland of two people. And, therefore, there is no choice but to create two states and make the best of it.” President Bill Clinton, New York City, January 7, 2001.
November 19, 2001 – US Secretary of State Colin Powell
“We have a vision of a region where Israelis and Arabs can live together in peace, security and dignity. We have a vision of a region where two states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side within secure and recognized borders.” US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Louisville, Ky, November 19, 2001.
June 24, 2002 – US President George Bush
“My vision is two states, living side by side in peace and security….the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state whose borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East. A Palestinian state will require a vibrant economy, where honest enterprise is encouraged by honest government. The United States, the international donor community and the World Bank stand ready to work with Palestinians on a major project of economic reform and development. The United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure. This will require an externally supervised effort to rebuild and reform the Palestinian security services. The security system must have clear lines of authority and accountability and a unified chain of command. America is pursuing this reform along with key regional states. The world is prepared to help, yet ultimately these steps toward statehood depend on the Palestinian people and their leaders.” US President George Bush, Washington, DC, June 24, 2002.
May 18, 2009 – President Barak Obama
“I have said before and I will repeat again that it is, I believe, in the interest not only of the Palestinians, but also the Israelis and the United States and the international community to achieve a two-state solution in which Israelis and Palestinians are living side by side in peace and security. And I am confident that in the days, weeks and months to come we are going to be able to make progress on that issue.” President Barak Obama, Press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Washington, DC, May 18, 2009.
June 4, 2009 – President Barack Obama
“America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history than cannot be denied. Threatening Israel with destruction –or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews—is deeply wrong…Let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspirations for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own. …The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.” “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction [of settlements] violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.” President Barak Obama, Cairo, Egypt, June 4, 2009.
November 25, 2009 – US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, November 2009
“We believe that through good-faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israel goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements. Let me say to all the people of the region and world; our commitment to achieving a solution with two states living side by side in peace and security is unwavering.” US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, Department of State, Washington, DC. November 25, 2009.
September 15, 2010 – US Middle East Negotiator, Senator George Mitchell
“We have said many times that our vision is for a two-state solution that includes a Jewish, democratic state of Israel living side by side in peace and security with a viable, independent, sovereign, and contiguous state of Palestine. But of course, this is one of many sensitive issues that the parties will need to resolve themselves, and that is the point of negotiations. The parties will reach agreement on all major issues.” Remarks by US Middle East Negotiator, Senator George Mitchell, Sharm el-Sheikh summit, September 15, 2010.
September 1, 2010 – US President Barak Obama
“The purpose of these talks is clear. These will be direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. These negotiations are intended to resolve all final status issues. The goal is a settlement, negotiated between the parties, that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security with a Jewish state of Israel and its other neighbors. That is the vision we are pursuing.” President Barak Obama, Washington, DC. September 1, 2010.
January 17, 2011 – Ambassador Samuel Lewis
“The relationship [with Israel] is deeper and wider than government to government, it is unique among all our relationships in the world. [The Strategic relationship]—did not grow without rough spots along the way in the relationship. What did it take to build that relationship? US-Israel has an unwritten alliance, no treaty… Agreements exist in many understandings, congressional acts, letters of assurance, promises to supply weapons, but there is no formal treaty. There is formal access and so many channels… A spider web of support exists from the history, values, strategic issues, as good a relationship as if there were a treaty…The relationship is deeper and wider than government to government, it is so unique among all our relationships in the world.”
The US-Israeli relationship exists like a Catholic marriage of old: you can love each other, yell at each other, disagree with each other, even leave each other for a period of time, but you do not get a divorce.” Remarks by Samuel W. Lewis, Conference on the US-Israeli relationship, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Miami, Florida, January 17, 2011. Samuel Lewis was US ambassador to Israel from 1977-1986.
March 19, 2011 – President Barak Obama
“For over two years, my administration has worked with the parties and the international community to end this conflict, building on decades of work by previous administrations. Yet expectations have gone unmet. Israeli settlement activity continues. Palestinians have walked away from talks. For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist. As for Israel, our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values. Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums. But precisely because of our friendship, it’s important that we tell the truth: The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace. The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome. The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation. What America and the international community can do is to state frankly what everyone knows — a lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people, each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.
So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, a secure Israel. The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.
As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself -– by itself -– against any threat. Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, to stop the infiltration of weapons, and to provide effective border security. The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.
These principles provide a foundation for negotiations. Palestinians should know the territorial outlines of their state; Israelis should know that their basic security concerns will be met. I’m aware that these steps alone will not resolve the conflict, because two wrenching and emotional issues will remain: the future of Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees.” President Barack Obama, Washington, DC, May 19, 2011.
May 22, 2011 – President Barak Obama
“…the parties themselves will negotiate a border than is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. That’s what mutually agreed-upon swaps means. It is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation. It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the 44 years. It allows the parties themselves to take account of those changes, including the new demographic realities on the ground, and the needs of both sides. The ultimate goal is two states for two people: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people and the State of Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people –each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition and peace.” President Barak Obama, Washington, DC, May 22, 2011.
November 4, 2011 – Andrew J. Shapiro, Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs
“His [President Obama’s] vision carefully weighs and balances difficult tradeoffs that the parties will need to make, which we believe are necessary to reach our common goal: two states for two peoples – Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people, each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace. We continue to work towards this goal and remain committed to using every opportunity and every tool to make this a reality.” Andrew J. Shapiro, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, November 4, 2011.
March 3, 2012 – President Barak Obama
“No Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that denies the Holocaust, threatens to wipe Israel off the map, and sponsors terrorist groups committed to Israel’s destruction. (Applause.) And so I understand the profound historical obligation that weighs on the shoulders of Bibi Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, and all of Israel’s leaders.” “A nuclear-armed Iran is completely counter to Israel’s security interests. But it is also counter to the national security interests of the United States. (Applause.) Indeed, the entire world has an interest in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.” “Iran’s leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. (Applause.) And as I have made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests. (Applause.)” President Barak Obama, AIPAC Conference, Washington, DC, March 3, 2012.
May 8, 2012 – Vice President Joe Biden
“That’s why our policy is not one of containment. Let me say it again, the U.S. policy under President Obama is not one of containment. … Barack Obama…reemphasized that Iran posed an existential threat to Israel. And I made it clear to [Bibi], that were I an Israeli, were I a Jew, I would not contract out my security to anybody – even a loyal, loyal, loyal friend like the United States. As the President made clear, we take no option off the table as part of our determination to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.” Vice-President Joe Biden, Rabbinic Assembly, Atlanta, Ga, May 8, 2012.
November 30, 2012 – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
“When it comes to a region full of uncertainty, upheaval, revolution, this much is constant and clear: America and Israel are in it together. This is a friendship that comes naturally to us. Americans honor Israel as a homeland dreamed of for generations and finally achieved by pioneering men and women in my lifetime. We share bedrock beliefs in freedom, equality, democracy, and the right to live without fear. What threatens Israel threatens America, and what strengthens Israel strengthens us. Our two governments maintain not just the formal U.S.-Israel Strategic Dialogue, but a daily dialogue, sometimes an hourly dialogue, at every level. But all that we hope to accomplish together depends on keeping Israelis safe to pursue their passions in peace and security. It depends on ensuring Israel’s future as a secure, democratic, Jewish state.
All sides need to consider carefully the path ahead. Palestinian leaders need to ask themselves what unilateral action can really accomplish for their people. ….like previous administrations – has been very clear with Israel that these activities set back the cause of a negotiated peace,,, And without peace, the inexorable math of demographics will, one day, force Israelis to choose between preserving their democracy and remaining a Jewish homeland. I mean, I do believe there would have been a Palestinian state if Yitzhak Rabin had not been murdered. I believe that. Because I think the Israeli people would have trusted him to take the hard decisions that were needed. A strong Israeli military is always essential, but no defense is perfect. And over the long run, nothing would do more to secure Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic state than a comprehensive peace. Protecting Israel’s future is not simply a question of policy for me, it’s personal.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Washington, DC. November 30, 2012.
March 21, 2013 – President Barak Obama
“When I consider Israel’s security, I also think about a people who have a living memory of the Holocaust, faced with the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iranian government that has called for Israel’s destruction. It’s no wonder Israelis view this as an existential threat. But this is not simply a challenge for Israel – it is a danger for the entire world, including the United States.Strong and principled diplomacy is the best way to ensure that the Iranian government forsakes nuclear weapons. This is not a danger that can be contained.
Negotiations will be necessary, but there’s little secret about where they must lead — two states for two peoples. Two states for two peoples… Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state and that Israelis have the right to insist upon their security. (Applause.) …an independent Palestine must be viable with real borders that have to be drawn.” President Barak Obama, Jerusalem, Israel, March 21, 2013.
May 12, 2013 – Secretary of State John Kerry
“So I understand the challenge of security that Israel faces. I understand it very well. And I join with President Obama in expressing to the people of Israel our deep, deep commitment to the security of Israel and to the need to find a peace that recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, recognizes Israel as a country that can defend itself, by itself, and that is an important principle with which the Prime Minister and the President and I are in agreement.” Statement by Secretary of State John Kerry after a meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister in Jerusalem, May 12, 2013.
July 30, 2013 – Secretary of State John Kerry
“The United States will work continuously with both parties as a facilitator every step of the way. We all understand the goal that we’re working towards: two states living side by side in peace and security. Two states because two proud peoples each deserve a country to call their own. Two states because the children of both peoples deserve the opportunity to realize their legitimate aspirations in security and in freedom. And two states because the time has come for a lasting peace.” Secretary of State John Kerry on the opening of Palestinian-Israeli talks in Washington, DC, July 30, 2013.
December 19, 2014 – President Barak Obama
“Today I have signed into law S. 2673, the ‘United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014,’ an Act that underscores the United States unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security and its future. This bipartisan piece of legislation reflects the importance placed by my administration on strengthening and deepening U.S.-Israel bilateral cooperation and ties. It reinforces critical defense and security programs, which have reached an unprecedented level under my administration.” President Barak Obama, Washington, DC, December 18, 2014.
March 2, 2015 – Samantha Powers, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations
“We believe – firmly – that Israel’s security and the U.S.-Israel partnership transcends politics, and it always will. Our commitments to our partnership with Israel are bedrock commitments – rooted in shared, fundamental values, cemented through decades of bipartisan reinforcement. This partnership should never be politicized, and it cannot and will not be tarnished or broken. There will never be a sunset on America’s commitment to Israel’s security. Never.
Now let me turn to aspects of the U.S.-Israel partnership that get far less attention – what the United States is doing every day to combat anti-Semitism around the world, and to have Israel’s back at the United Nations. At the Security Council, we have guarded vigilantly against any resolution that threatens Israel’s security or undermines the pursuit of peace. Confronting anti-Israel bias is part of a long bipartisan American tradition at the UN.” United States UN Representative Samantha Powers, Washington, DC., March 2, 2015.
May 5, 2016, Ben Rhodes – US Deputy National Security Advisor
“We can do things that challenge the conventional thinking that, you know, ‘AIPAC doesn’t like this,’ or ‘the Israeli government doesn’t like this,’ or ‘the gulf countries don’t like it.’ It’s the possibility of improved relations with adversaries. It’s nonproliferation. So all these threads that the president’s been spinning — and I mean that not in the press sense — for almost a decade, they kind of all converged around Iran.” The New York Times, “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign Policy Guru,” May 5, 2016.
June 6, 2016 – Susan Rice, US National Security Advisor
“President Obama is fiercely devoted to Israel and to the well-being of the Jewish people. I know because I see it every day. I watched him as he slipped a folded prayer into the cracks of the Western Wall. I stood with him as we ran our hands over the charred remnants of rockets in Sderot. President Obama has met with Prime Minister Netanyahu 16 times—more than almost any other leader. Our commitment to Israel, has always, transcends partisanship. America’s commitment to Israel’s security is “unshakeable,” that’s not just talk. It’s the nearly $24 billion the United States has provided since President Obama took office to help maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge.
President Obama is committed to ensuring Israel’s security not just for the remainder of his time in office, but for years to come. Israel currently receives more than half of the United States’ entire foreign military assistance budget. And, we’re discussing a new agreement with Israel that would guide our military assistance until 2029…. Our commitment to Israel’s security is also why we continue to urge Israelis and Palestinians to resolve what President Rivlin calls “the tragedy that envelops us all.” . That is why, as we mark the 49th anniversary this week of the Six-Day War, we continue to strongly oppose Israeli settlement activity. Just like every administration since 1967, Republican and Democratic. Just as we oppose counterproductive Palestinian actions and strongly condemn incitement and violence. Settlement activity corrodes the prospects for two states. It moves us toward a one-state reality. Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic state is at stake.
We vigorously opposed the Human Rights Council’s unbalanced and counter-productive focus on Israel. ..when Israel’s adversaries seek to isolate and boycott Israel economically, we forcefully combat these efforts. We strengthen our economic ties even more. The United States stands firmly against these attempts to delegitimize Israel.” Remarks by US National Security Advisor Susan Rice, the American Jewish Committee Global Forum, Washington, DC, June 6, 2016.
December 28, 2016 – Secretary of State, John Kerry
“Throughout his Administration, President Obama has been deeply committed to Israel and its security, and that commitment has guided his pursuit of peace in the Middle East. This is an issue which, all of you know, I have worked on intensively during my time as Secretary of State for one simple reason: because the two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It is the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace and security with its neighbors. It is the only way to ensure a future of freedom and dignity for the Palestinian people. And it is an important way of advancing United States interests in the region.
In fact, this Administration has been Israel’s greatest friend and supporter, with an absolutely unwavering commitment to advancing Israel’s security and protecting its legitimacy. On this point, I want to be very clear: No American administration has done more for Israel’s security than Barack Obama’s. The Israeli prime minister himself has noted our, quote, “unprecedented” military and intelligence cooperation.
President Obama and I have made it clear to the Palestinian leadership countless times, publicly and privately, that all incitement to violence must stop. We have consistently condemned violence and terrorism, and even condemned the Palestinian leadership for not condemning it. Far too often, the Palestinians have pursued efforts to delegitimize Israel in international fora. We have strongly opposed these initiatives, including the recent wholly unbalanced and inflammatory UNESCO resolution regarding Jerusalem. And we have made clear our strong opposition to Palestinian efforts against Israel at the ICC, which only sets back the prospects for peace.
Now, one thing we do know: if Israel goes down the one state path, it will never have true peace with the rest of the Arab world, and I can say that with certainty. The Arab countries have made clear that they will not make peace with Israel without resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That’s not where their loyalties lie. That’s not where their politics are. That’s the bottom line: If we’re serious about the two-state solution, it’s time to start implementing it now. Advancing the process of separation now, in a serious way, could make a significant difference in saving the two-state solution and in building confidence in the citizens of both sides that peace is, indeed, possible.
This has been the fundamental – the foundational principle of the two-state solution from the beginning: creating a state for the Jewish people and a state for the Palestinian people, where each can achieve their national aspirations. And Resolution 181 is incorporated into the foundational documents of both the Israelis and Palestinians. Recognition of Israel as a Jewish state has been the U.S. position for years, and based on my conversations in these last months, I am absolutely convinced that many others are now prepared to accept it as well – provided the need for a Palestinian state is also addressed.” https://www.un.org/press/en/2016/sc12657.doc.htm
February 15, 2017 – President Donald Trump
“The state of Israel is a symbol to the world of resilience in the face of oppression — I can think of no other state that’s gone through what they’ve gone — and of survival in the face of genocide. We will never forget what the Jewish people have endured. Your perseverance in the face of hostility, your open democracy in the face of violence, and your success in the face of tall odds is truly inspirational. The security challenges faced by Israel are enormous, including the threat of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which I’ve talked a lot about. One of the worst deals I’ve ever seen is the Iran deal. My administration has already imposed new sanctions on Iran, and I will do more to prevent Iran from ever developing — I mean ever — a nuclear weapon.
Our security assistance to Israel is currently at an all-time high, ensuring that Israel has the ability to defend itself from threats of which there are unfortunately many. Both of our countries will continue and grow. We have a long history of cooperation in the fight against terrorism and the fight against those who do not value human life. America and Israel are two nations that cherish the value of all human life.
This is one more reason why I reject unfair and one-sided actions against Israel at the United Nations — just treated Israel, in my opinion, very, very unfairly — or other international forums, as well as boycotts that target Israel. Our administration is committed to working with Israel and our common allies in the region towards greater security and stability. That includes working toward a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
As far as settlements, I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit. We’ll work something out. But I would like to see a deal be made. I think a deal will be made. So I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. (Laughter.) I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one. I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two. But honestly, if Bibi and if the Palestinians — if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best. “
December 6, 2017 – President Donald Trump
“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace. Jerusalem is today, and must remain, a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque. This decision is not intended, in any way, to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement. We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians. We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.” Remarks by Donald Trump, December 6, 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/12/06/statement-president-trump-jerusalem
January 22, 2018 – Vice President Mike Pence
“Thanks to the President’s leadership, the alliance between our two countries has never been stronger, and the friendship between our peoples has never been deeper. And I am here to convey a simple message from the heart of the American people: America stands with Israel. We stand with Israel because your cause is our cause, your values are our values, and your fight is our fight. We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny. We stand with Israel because that’s what Americans have always done, and so has it been since my country’s earliest days. In the story of the Jews, we’ve always seen the story of America. It is the story of an exodus, a journey from persecution to freedom, a story that shows the power of faith and the promise of hope. And our founders, as others have said, turned to the wisdom of the Hebrew Bible for direction, guidance, and inspiration. As you prepare to commemorate this historic milestone, I say, along with the good people of Israel, here and around the world: Shehecheyanu, v’kiyimanu, v’higiyanu la’z’man ha’zeh. Seventy years ago, the United States was proud to be the first nation in the world to recognize the State of Israel.
The United States appreciates your government’s declared willingness to resume direct peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. And today, we strongly urge the Palestinian leadership to return to the table. Peace can only come through dialogue. Now, we recognize that peace will require compromise, but you can be confident in this: The United States of America will never compromise the safety and security of the State of Israel. Any peace agreement must guarantee Israel’s ability to defend itself by itself.
Together with our allies, we will continue to bring the full force of our might to drive radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the Earth. The United States will continue to work with Israel, and with nations across the world, to confront the leading state sponsor of terror — the Islamic Republic of Iran. The United States of America will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon… we will also no longer tolerate Iran’s support of terrorism, or its brutal attempts to suppress its own people. With an unshakeable bond between our people, and our shared commitment to freedom, I say from my heart: May God bless the Jewish people, may God bless the State of Israel and all who call these lands their home, and may God continue to bless the United States of America. ” https://israeled.org/resources/documents/vice-president-pences-speech-knesset/