Assembled here are key sources that have shaped the modern Middle East, Zionism, Israel. We have also included items that give texture, perspective, and opinion to historical context.Some of these sources are mentioned in the Era summaries and contain explanatory introductions that provide context to that particular source.
Major motivations for some Jews to choose Zionism included their failure to gain civic equality with their non-Jewish neighbors, and increasing outbreaks of rampant anti-Semitism. This account of the miserable economic situation of Jews in eastern Europe was another impetus for Jews to change their economic, political, and social condition through immigration.
Nordau's impassioned speech summarized the unique Jewish identity to belief, Torah, ritual and community. With those central elements as a people, their state of impoverishment and wretched physical insecurity, he argued, were vital for rebuilding the Jewish national territory.
The Sherif of Mecca and Sir Henry MacMahon, a British official in Cairo, speaking for the Foreign Office exchanged letters about the current war effort against the Turks, and the future political status of specific Arab lands in the Ottoman Empire. McMahon said then and he repeated the statement again in 1937, that the area of Palestine was definitely excluded from any area to be provided to an Arab leader after WWI. The British allowed the area of Palestine to develop as a 'national home for the Jewish people.'
Emir Feisal, acting on behalf of Sherif of Mecca and Chaim Weizmann on behalf of the Zionist Organization exchange recognition of cordiality and kinship between a future Arab state and Palestine, where Zionists seek to establish their national home. Mutual assistance is offered by one of the other.
In early May 1921, communal riots unfolded in the city of Jaffa and at Jewish settlements along the coast, with considerable loss of life and property for both communities. The British decided that both Arabs and Jews had real as well as exaggerated fears of the other.
With intentioned ambiguity, Britain asserted that its goal in Palestine was not to make it wholly Jewish or subordinate the Arab population. Self-determination was not promised. Britain wanted to remain 'umpire' between the communities. Naively it thought it could control communal expectations and keep the peace.
The sale of Zirin Village to the Jewish National Fund was collusively undertaken by a local Arab family through the British Courts in Palestine. The process intentionally avoided financial compensation to the resident Arab occupants.
An invaluable glimpse at Palestine's population: gaping socio-economic distances and vast communal differences between Muslims, Christians and Jews that set the strong preferences for separation of the populations.
1934 J. Elazari – Volcani (Issac Vilkanski) SYSTEMATIC AGRICULTURAL COLONIZATION IN PALESTINE REPORT PRESENTED AT THE XVIIITH ZIONIST CONGRESS PRAGUE, 1933 Special Printing from the Protocol of the XVIIIth Zionist Congress 1934 Published by the Zionist Central Bureau 77 Great Russell Street, London W.C. 1 The complete protocol of the XVIIIth Zionist Congress together […]
With more Arab sale offers than funds for purchases, Zionist leaders decide on strategic priorities and designate areas around Haifa, Jerusalem-Jaffa road, and the Galilee near headwaters of the
This document was secured at the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem. Five months before Hitler invaded Poland, Arab leaders with an interest in Palestine are starkly disappointed that the the German government did not go to war against the Zionists in Palestine. The same leaders give the Zionist national builders high marks for their perseverance against terrorist bands in the Palestinian countryside. They worry that unless Arab states come to the Palestinians’ assistance, Palestine will be lost to the Zionists. A remarkable assessment for Palestinian Arab leaders and their supporters.
Pressure from Arab leaders in states surrounding Palestine, growing instability in the eastern Mediterranean, and a firm opposition voiced by the British High Commissioner in Egypt, Miles Lampson, caused the British to withdraw the idea of resolving the Arab-Zionist conflict with a two-state solution. Instead, heavy restrictions were imposed in 1939 on the growth of the Jewish National home. Coincidently this policy statement is issued, two days after Nazi Germany attacks Jewish, homes, businesses and synagogues, in what came to be known as Kristallnacht.
A description details the economic devastation caused by the 1936-1939 Arab disturbances in Palestine to the majority rural population. This followed the annually poor crop yields of the early 1930s, and the vast rural wreckage caused by WWI.
Zionist leaders—David Ben-Gurion, Chaim Weizmann and Eliezer Kaplan—learning of the British intent to limit severely the Jewish national home’s growth. Increasingly, they are also aware of the German government’s hostilities towards European Jewry.
Over four decades, Winston Churchill’s views on Zionism and Jews varied greatly. Without knowing his long held personal beliefs or the policies he adopted while the Jewish state developed, and only reading this speech, one would not know that he was a political opportunist and certainly not a “Gentile Zionist.”
In four days of sharply presented testimony and debate, the House evaluated the pros and cons of whether to endorse Jewish immigration to Palestine. Pressure from the Executive Branch not to pass such a resolution was heeded. According to Chief of Staff George Marshall “such a resolution would have adverse effects on the Moslem world.” This was the same argument that the State Department used in trying but failing to persuade President Truman in 1947 not to vote in favor of Palestine’s partition into Arab and Jewish states. The debate in the Congress took place more than a year before World War II ended in Europe. Fear of Arab state retaliation against the US never materialized because the US endorsed Jewish immigration to Palestine and a two state solution.
Before ending his term in 1944 as Palestine's High Commissioner, Sir Harold MacMichael suggested the partition of Palestine, "Jews and Arabs alike would enjoy the possession of their own respective territories, the former protected by international guarantees for their security, and the latter relieved from fear of further encroachments."
Steady disintegration of Palestinian Arab society from 1945-1949 is detailed by five Arab and non-Arab historians citing local social cleavages, economic impoverishment, fear, indebtedness, and political dysfunction.
During the 1940s, Arab states become increasingly opposed to Jewish immigration and settlement in Palestine. Zionism is vigorously opposed. Arab state views are expressed before a post war American-British inquiry on Palestine's future.
The JNF estimated that upto 250,000 dunams - (a dunam = quarter of an acre) could be purchased if funds were available despite Arab opposition to sales and a steep rise in prices. By then, Jews owned 1.6 million dunams of land, with more than half of Palestine not owned by anyone.
Despite an officially anti-Zionist stance, Stalin’s administration endorsed the partition of Palestine in order to terminate British presence there, leaving the area open to Moscow’s penetration and influence.
Published by the British Administration of Palestine, this summary emphasizes attempts at impartiality in governing the Mandate. It notes that in 1922, the Jewish community already possessed 'national' characteristics, while the Arab community’s composition was sociologically and economically divided and to a large degree impoverished by the war.
Earlier in 1947, Great Britain turned the future of the Palestine Mandate over to the newly established United Nations. Then in August 1947, the UN suggested that establishing an Arab and Jewish state with a federal union would be the best solution for the communal unrest there.
No document better reveals the hostility which most Arab leaders and Arab states had in 1947 for Zionism and for a possible Jewish state. The Saudi King notes "that US support for Zionists in Palestine is an unfriendly act directed against the Arabs." The King's views were totally supported by US State Department officials including Loy Henderson and George Kennan who advocated strongly against Truman's support of a Jewish state.
The UN recommended establishing Arab and Jewish states in Palestine, with an international regime for Jerusalem. Zionists were jubilant; Arab states and the Palestinians were indignant and rejected two state solution. No Arab state is established, Israel is in 1948
May 14, 1948: The Declaration recounts the Jewish connection to the land of Israel, the birth of Zionism, and recognition by the UN of a Jewish state’s legitimacy. It also promises that the state will be a democracy for all its citizens.
This 10 page report, written by the British Colonial and Foreign Office, along with the 1937 Peel (Royal) Commission Report, is one of the two best summaries of the British presence in Palestine. Both are substantial in terms of content, detail and analyses; both were written from Britain’s perspective. Read these along with 1931 Census for Palestine to have a fuller grasp of the politics and the populations that shaped Britain’s Palestine’s administration from 1918-1948
Subsequent to Israel's territorial successes from May 1948 forward, UN Mediator Bernadotte is assassinated after suggesting smaller borders for Israel. He does not mention Palestinian Arabs in his interim report.
The resolution states that refugees “wishing to return to their homes and live at peace (with Israel) should do so or compensation be paid…” Israel opposes the idea because it jeopardizes Israel as a majority Jewish state.
Upon admission to the UN, Israel's Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett said, "it was
the consummation of a people's transition from political anonymity to clear identity, from inferiority to equal status, from mere passive protest to active responsibility, from exclusion to membership in the family of nations."
In response to President Eisenhower’s demand that Israel leave Sinai, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion provides a detailed history of Israel at the UN and Egypt’s denial to Israel of use of the Suez Canal. He stresses Egyptian “injustice, discrimination, hostility, and boycott” imposed on Israel.
Ben-Gurion elegantly connects modern Israel from messianic redemption to Zionism, building the country through labor and immigration, with dual needs to remain actively linked to the Jewish diaspora and Jewish values through education.
With tensions on its borders, Eshkol tries to reassure Israeli public. Instead he gives a “painfully faltering” speech. Popular and party disgruntlement follow, opening the way for Eshkol to turn over the Defense Ministry two days later to General Moshe Dayan.
In four days the Israeli army swept through Sinai. He acknowledged Israel’s pre-emptive strike. Nasser blamed the US and Britain for aiding Israel’s success, yet took responsibility for the Arab defeat and resigned. Immediately millions of Egyptians poured into the streets angry that he led the country to defeat, but loving him as a father, demanded that he stay as President. All the Egyptian military command resigned, but Nasser stayed in office till his death in September 1970.
Two days after the conclusion of the June 1967 War, Eshkol, recounts the series of events that led to war, the war itself and the immediate aftermath. He reaches out to Arab states for peace seeking a path to peace with her belligerent neighbors. A week later, Israel will quietly messages Cairo and Damascus through the US, hat Israel seeks an end to the conflict. No answers are received.
Following the conclusion of the June 1967 War, the Israeli government sent word to Egypt and Syria seeking peace plan that was intended to jumpstart a peace process with Israel’s belligerent neighbors, Egypt and Syria. The messages were sent through the US, but no response was apparently received.
Following the conclusion of the June 1967 War, the Israeli government sent word to Egypt and Syria seeking peace plan that was intended to jumpstart a peace process with Israel’s belligerent neighbors, Egypt and Syria. The messages were sent through the US, but no response was apparently received.
President Johnson’s remarks became the philosophical outline for UN Resolution 242 passed in November 1967. Core to his view was that Israel would not need to return to the pre-1967 war borders, and that the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states in the region should be protected.
Receiving an Honorary Doctorate from the Hebrew University following the conclusion of the June 1967 War, Rabin delivers a speech on behalf of Israel’s entire Defence Forces. He highlights the harsh realities of war, yet concentrates on commending the extraordinary efforts of Israel’s armed forces.
July 26, 1967: The Alon Plan reflects a response to Israel’s pre-1967 war border vulnerability seeking a future west bank arrangement that is not a strategic/geographic threat to Israel and its coastal plain population centers.
The Resolution calls for unspecified Israel withdrawal from territories in return for right of all states to live in peace. It does not call for full withdrawal. It is the basis of Egyptian (1979) and Jordanian (1994) Treaties with Israel, and PLO (1993) recognition of Israel.
October 6, 2023, marks the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the October 1973 War. Six months prior, Egyptian President Sadat sent his national security adviser to meet with Secretary of State Kissinger to determine whether the US would engage Egypt and Israel in serious mediation for a Sinai agreement, or a series of them, all focused on Israeli withdrawal and gradual acceptance of Israel. Kissinger did not take Sadat’s overtures seriously. Would have American action then avoided the October 1973 War? All informed analyses says, ‘no.’
With less than three dozen Israeli settlements in the territories taken in the June War, the proposal is not for a vast settlement increase, but for economic, infrastructure, and industrial development of the areas.
Proceedings of a conference concluded that while pre-war intelligence was plentiful and accurate, there was a massive US intelligence failure. Misinterpretation layered on top of preconceived notions of Arab military ineptitude and faith in diplomacy were at the core of the failures.
The October 1973 War broke the logjam over whether diplomacy could unfold to kick-off Arab-Israeli negotiations. Sadat used the 1973 war as an engine to harness American horsepower. In that he succeeded since US Secretary of State Kissinger saw Sadat’s leaning to Washington not only as a chance to begin useful negotiations, but of great significance to weaning the Egyptian President away from Moscow.
U.S. Secretary of State Kissinger failed to persuade Syrian President Assad to attend the December 1973 Geneva Middle East Peace Conference. Assad saw the proposed conference, which it was, a ruse to cover up a "pre-cooked" Israeli-Egyptian arrangement. Assad wanted no part of implicitly supporting any agreement where Israel's legitimacy might be enhanced.
The US promises to implement an Egyptian-Israeli disengagement agreement and have the Suez Canal cleared. Israel sees eventual repopulation of Suez Canal cities as a sign that Egypt will not go to war again soon.
The Israeli government assigns responsibility to military leaders for failures leading to and
execution of the War; though not assigned direct blame, Prime Minister Meir and Defense Minister Dayan resign in April 1974.
The US promises coordination with Israel on resumed negotiations, not to negotiate or recognize
the PLO until it recognizes Israel’s right to exist, and accepts UNSC Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).
Outlining an Arab-Israeli settlement, it calls for Israeli withdrawal to “almost the pre-June War borders” and “extensive Palestinian autonomy.” The Carter Administration embraces the report for its policy.
With candor, Israeli Foreign Minister Allon tells Secretary of State Vance that the Israeli Labor government would under no circumstances negotiate with the PLO until it gave up terrorism, recognized UNSC 242, and unequivocally accepted Israel’s right to exist. Only in 1993, did the PLO accept these premises, Sixteen years had then passed while Israel built settlements virtually without restraint in the territories.
Carefully stated, Carter says that there should be a homeland for the Palestinian refugees. He is the first US president to assert the need for a place for the Palestinians and for Israel’s right to exist in peace.
When the Carter Administration entered office in 1977, an early foreign policy priority was to kick-start Middle East negotiations. In this Policy Review Committee Meeting, Carter’s staff proposed a negotiating outcome that would pass through a conference, including the withdrawal of Israel’s forces to almost the 1967 borders, bringing the PLO into talks as Palestinian representatives, all the while seeking to uphold Israel's security requirements.
This meeting between President Carter and Syrian President Assad was the only one they had during the Carter presidency. Carter wanted to learn what Assad’s requirements were for an agreement with Israel: borders, security, nature of peace, and willingness of other Arabs join. Assad doubted that the Saudis would join this process. When the conversation was finished, Assad made it clear that he was not rushing into an agreement with Israel, even if asked by the United States. Carter acknowledged to Assad that he knew little about the Palestinian refugee issue. Carter did tell Assad that the US was committed to the security of Israel. Assad did not say that the Soviet Union’s participation at a conference was necessary, in fact Assad noted how difficult his relations were with Moscow in the immediate past; Assad did tell Carter that it was Secretary of State Vance who first raised the possibility of Moscow attending such a peace conference. From American diplomatic sources we learn that Assad was very pleased to have been squired by Carter. For their part, the Israelis were deeply anxious about Carter’s positive statements about Assad made after this meeting.
Prime Minister-elect Begin rebukes President Carter’s assertion that Israel will need to withdraw from almost all the lands Israel secured in the June 1967 war, especially Jerusalem and the West Bank. Begin is adamant opposed to dealing with the PLO. Begin refuses to relinquish Israeli decision-making to US preferences or dictates. These fundamental policy disagreements will remain unresolved between Begin and Carter for the duration of Carter’s presidency, and years after.
Hamilton Jordan, Carter's chief political adviser, warned the president to halt the administration's anti-Israeli actions. Nonetheless, they continued to diminish Carter's support among American Jews through the 1980 re-election campaign.
Following his surprise electoral victory in May, Prime Minister Menachem Begin traveled to Washington in an effort to establish a positive rapport with President Carter. While this initial meeting was cordial, each met the others’ stubbornness, a characteristic that would keep their relationship respectful but acrid for years to come.
Begin tells Carter that Judea, Samaria (the West Bank) and the Gaza Strip will not be placed under foreign sovereignty; likewise, these areas will not be annexed, leaving them open for possible negotiations.
The Rumanian president told Menachem Begin, that Egyptian President Sadat was interested in negotiations with the Israelis. This secret visit took place three weeks before Israeli Foreign Minister, Moshe Dayan met secretly with Egyptian Vice-President Hasan Tuhami in Morocco where the topic of focus was also possible direct Israeli-Egyptian negotiations. The details of this meeting were not shared with the Carter administration that was focused on a comprehensive Middle East peace via an international conference.
Unknown to the Carter administration and one month before it issued the US-Soviet Declaration to convene an international Middle East Peace Conference, Prime Minister Begin tells the cabinet that he learned from the Rumanian president that Sadat wishes to have Israeli and Egyptian representatives meet in secret talks. That bi-lateral Dayan -Tuhami meeting takes place on September 16. Begin refers to advanced drafts of proposed treaties between Israel and each Arab state; he presents details about Rumanian Jewish immigration to Israel.
Common to both the Labor Party and to Begin’s government was a fear that the US would pressure Israel into unwanted concessions and deny Israel its right to sovereign decision-making. It was a concern that Dayan expressed in this October 1977 meeting, and one that he would articulate on several occasions during the Camp David negotiations.
Sadat tells the Israeli people and world that he seeks a just and durable peace, which is not a separate peace, between Israel and Egypt. He equates statehood for the Palestinians as their right to return.
Five weeks after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat flew to Jerusalem in November 1977, to accelerate Egyptian – Israeli negotiations, Begin brought to President Jimmy Carter, Israel’s response to Sadat’s peace initiative: political autonomy for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. No Palestinian state was considered.
As part of a joint statement, President Carter makes promises regarding US’ role in coming Political-Military Committee Talks in Cairo and Jerusalem. Likewise presenting a four-point formula for resolving the conflict, these statements contribute to US-Israeli tensions.
Siegel resigned over two matters: the administration’s policy of selling advanced fighter aircraft to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which he believed a threat to Israel’s national security, and his sharp disagreement with the Carter White House for not allowing alternative views on policy matters to find their way to the President’s desk. Siegel’s detailed interview about the administration’s anti-Israeli viewpoints are explained here.
After a year in office, the Carter administration’s initiative to achieve a comprehensive Middle East peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors had stalled. At this White House meeting, Dayan reviewed Israel’s concerns about the West Bank and Brzezinski criticized Begin’s autonomy plan for the Palestinians. Begin and Carter’s mutual dislike over policy decisions continued to rise.
In this meeting, the contents of which have not been released by the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) but are available from the Israel State Archives (ISA), Begin clearly committed that “perhaps one military settlement” in the Jordan Valley would be established during the three months of the treaty negotiations. The extraordinarily contentious public dispute on the settlements would mar the diplomatic success of the Camp David Accords and add tension to the already fraught Carter-Begin relationship.
On the last day of negotiations at Camp David, President Carter asked Israel to accept the US position that Jerusalem was occupied territory; Dayan shot back in vigorous opposition, "if we had known that you would declare your position on Jerusalem, we would not have come here. This is the first time that we are confronted with an American position and specifically on the most sensitive issue. All your positions with regards to settlements are insignificant compared to our confrontation on the issue of Jerusalem."
The Camp David accords culminated after thirteen days of intense negotiations between Israeli, Egyptian, and American delegations. Egyptian and Israeli leaders met with President Carter where after difficult negotiations they signed two accords, one an outline for an Egyptian-Israeli Treaty and one for Palestinian self-rule. The negotiations continued for another six months until the Egyptian-Treaty was signed in March 1979, after considerable bad feeling was tossed back and forth between Israeli and American negotiators.
This document is the only known official written transcript of the Begin-Carter discussion held at the end of the 1978 Camp David negotiations about any moratorium on Israel's future settlement building. This record shows that Begin made no mention of a moratorium on settlement building for longer than three months. However, President Carter publicly, and Secretary of State Vance, in his memoirs, Hard Choices disagreed, believing the time mentioned was five years. For the remainder of Carter's presidency, and for the rest of his post-presidency, the 'building of Israeli settlements' became a key point of contention in shaping his relationship with Israel.
Begin agrees to halt settlements construction only for the duration of the peace treaty negotiations, not until Palestinian autonomy is applied. Carter erroneously believes that Begin made a promise to halt settlements.
Begin summarizes in great detail the contents and the political implications of the recently signed Camp David Accords. He reiterated Israel's continued presence in Jerusalem, per its June 1967 Law, and clarified the terms used in the agreements.
Dayan made the case to the knesset that it should vote in favor of the Camp David Accords stipulating why doing so would be in Israel's long term interest. He stated specifically that there was no promise for a Palestinian state, IDF forces would remain in the West Bank, negotiations for a peace treaty would continue, and these agreements were signed by the President of Egypt and the President of the US.
Embedded in the September 17, 1978 Camp David Accords were broad outlines for an Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty and a Framework for Palestinian autonomy. The details of both remained to be negotiated. Yet, obstacles to implementation of the Accords appeared almost immediately.
Nine days before the March 26, 1979 signing of the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty, US National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud carried out an extraordinarily frank conversation. It included discussions about their bilateral relations, common fears of regional turbulence, and Sadat’s building estrangement from Arab leaders.
Carefully sandwiched between Carter’s high-risk presidential visit to Egypt and Israel on March 10, 1979—to solve contentious disagreements between Sadat and Begin—and the Peace Treaty signing on March 26, 1979, his administration gladly votes at the UN to deplore Israeli settlement building; including demographic changes in Jerusalem. After the Peace Treaty signing, until it leaves office in 1981, the Carter administration will continue to barrage Israel with condemnation for settlement building.
Signed sixteen months after Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem, it calls for establishment of diplomatic relations, staged Israeli withdrawal from Sinai, and American security arrangements to support the bilateral treaty.
If Egypt breaches the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty, the US will enhance its presence in the area, provide military and economic supplies to Israel, and vote against any UN resolution contrary to the treaty.
This was the second UNSC Resolution within four months supported by the Carter administration condemning Israel's settlement building in the territories. It too greatly angered the Israeli government and American supporters of Israel.
Showing its public opposition to Israeli actions in the lands taken in the June 1967 war, an area that the Carter Administration
wanted reserved for Palestinian self-rule, it 'strongly deplores' Israel's settlement policies. Passage of the resolution three weeks
prior to the New York and Connecticut presidential primaries, cause many Jewish voters to vote in favor of Ted Kennedy
and not for Carter, helping to splinter the Democratic Party.
It calls for “recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, a just solution to the
Palestinian problem, the right to self-determination, [and] for PLO association to the negotiations.”
After the September 1978 Camp David Accords ended, the Carter administration diligently tried but failed to persuade Jordan's King Hussein to be part of the follow-on negotiations over Palestinian autonomy. Carter felt Hussein was obstructionist; Hussein did not believe in 1978 that the US could halt Israeli settlement building as promised then. Hussein was correct. He also believed that Palestinian Autonomy might have a negative impact on many Palestinians living in his kingdom. Hussein was skeptical of the US capacity to negotiate for his national interests. At the same time, privately, Egypt's Sadat was not displeased that the Jordanians remained out of favor with the US, and away from any negotiations that would detract from implementation of Israel's promised full withdrawal from Sinai, per their 1979 Treaty. In 1988, Hussein stepped away from the West Bank’s future; in 1994, Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel.
(20 August 1980) https://unispal.un.org/DPA/DPR/unispal.nsf/0/DDE590C6FF232007852560DF0065FDDB The Security Council, Recalling its resolution 476 (1980), Reaffirming again that the acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible, Deeply concerned over the enactment of a “basic law” in the Israeli Knesset proclaiming a change in the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, with its implications for peace and security, Noting that Israel […]
Conclusions suggest that Israel has no direct responsibility for the massacre of
Palestinians in refugee camps in Beirut; Defense Minister Sharon resigns for ignoring the danger of potential
Areas of bi-lateral political and military cooperation are noted to fend off Soviet involvement in the the Middle East, to assist Israel in building the Lavi aircraft, to assure an independent Lebanon, and promote Arab-Israeli negotiations.
In Aprili 1987, the Jordanian King and Israeli Labor Party leaders secretly outlined a plan to convene an international conference to move Israeli-Palestinian talks forward through a conference format, but Likud opposition leaders in Israel squashed the idea.
Jordan's King Hussein made a strategic decision to disassociate administratively from the West Bank, leaving it to focus Jordanian national identity on only the east bank of the Jordan River. The PLO subsequently negotiated with Israel to rule over some of these lands, as codified in the 1993 Oslo Accords, but no Palestinian state was promised.
As a militant Islamic Palestinian national organization, Hamas's adherents believe that Israel is illegitimate and should be destroyed through Jihad. Hamas opposes all recognition and negotiation with Israel, and likewise opposes the PLO/PA who have negotiated and collaborated with Israel from time to time. Hamas and the PA's competition severely fragment the Palestinian political community.
US Secretary of State James Baker warns that in a post-Cold War world the US would not let Saddam Hussein’s August 1990 invasion and erasure of Kuwait stand. Baker said that intimidation and force would not be tolerated. In January 1991, the US and its coalition partners ejected Iraq from Kuwait and restored its rulers.
As part of the preparations for the Fall 1991 Madrid Peace Conference, US Secretary of State James Baker drafted a memorandum of agreement between the US and Israel regarding the particulars of resuming the Arab-Israeli peace process. He opens by reiterating that the intention of the negotiations is to achieve a regional peace agreement based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
Using sources from the Israeli Prime Ministers Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a first hand account of the negotiations is provided through the eyes of one of the negotiators, Dr. Yair Hirschfeld, supported by 31 declassified documents and communications from Palestinian, Israeli, and Norwegian representatives; the item was assembled by Israel State Archives researchers.
In September 2023, thirty years after the historic signing of the Oslo Accords, there is occasion to review Prime Minister Rabin’s understanding of them. I assembled this collection years ago from Daily Reports- Near East and South Asia, 1993-1995. Two short items about Rabin’s views are also found or linked here. Rabin provided a summary of his views of the Accords in a Knesset speech in October 5, 1995. Some of Rabin’s reasons for signing the Accords are also provided in Yehuda Avner’s The Prime Ministers.
Arafat offers gratitude to President Clinton for hosting this historic event, expressing hopes that the agreement will end a century of suffering and usher in peace coexistence and equal fights.
He acknowledges the courage of the people of Israel to seek the determination to build peace.
While advocating joint responsibility of Palestinians and Israelis to enforce the agreement, history shows that over the next decade, Arafat does not clamp down on violent attacks against Israelis.
Clinton expresses gratitude to those who brought about the possibilities of reconciling Israeli and Palestinian aspirations, and acknowledges past leaders, Menachem Begin, Anwar Sadat, Jimmy Carter, and George Bush for advancing the sides toward this moment of signing the Accords on Interim Palestinian Self-Government. Over the next two decades, funds pour into the West Bank and Gaza Strip and elections for a self governing authority are held, but autocratic rule and financial mismanagement prevail, stymying along with other reasons, successful Palestinian self-rule.
As a lifetime soldier-politician, Rabin acknowledges that the signing of the Declaration of Principles was profoundly difficult, and yet there is a yearning to end the cycle of violence and engage in reconciliation with the Palestinians. Drawing inspiration from Jewish tradition, he stresses the timeliness of pursuing peace and prays for a new era in the Middle East.
Jordan becomes the second Arab country after Egypt (1979) to sign a peace treaty ending the state of war with Israel. The Treaty addresses boundary demarcations, water sharing, police and security cooperation, environmental issues, border crossings, administration of Muslim holy sites and other issues.
(November 1, 1995) On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords, September 13, 1993, an agreement between Israel and the PLO that spelled out potential Palestinian self-rule, scholars and diplomats who worked back then have written dozens of articles, published interviews, and participated in video documentaries praising and criticizing […]
In 1995, Senators Robert Dole and Jon Kyl introduced the Jerusalem Embassy Act to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. The bill was adopted by an overwhelming majority in both houses of Congress; it provided Presidential authorization to effectively delay the embassy move every six months, if deemed necessary for U.S. national security interests.
The Israeli investigation concludes that Yigal Amir is Rabin’s assassin. The Commission does not assess the impact on the assassin of the vicious language directed at Rabin for signing the Oslo Accords.
This is the third (1971 and 1985) and most extensive trade agreement signed between Israel and the EC/EU, emphasizing that more than half of all Israeli exports are to Europe. Virtually every conceivable area of sharing and exchange is noted in the agreement.
During the May 2021 Israeli-Palestinian clashes, Arab citizens of Israel clashed with Jewish- Israelis. By comparison in October 2000, similar clashes were longer, more intense with similar underlying causation. Read the context with the findings of the Or Commission Report that investigated them.
After trying but not succeeding in having PLO leader Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Barak reach an understanding at Camp David in August 2000, he offers a US view of a final status agreement near the end of his term in office.
In the midst of severe Palestinian-Israeli clashes, the Report concluded as had many previous investigations that the two communities feared, disdained, and wanted to live separately from one another. From the report flowed the EU, UN, US, commitment to a two-state solution suggested in the 2003 Road Map for Peace.
From an Arab summit, the initiative is revised several times since; it calls for normalization of relations with Israel, Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 lines, but states an imprecise resolution of the refugee issue.
In his speech at the annual Herziliya Conference, PM Sharon articulates his view that the Quartet’s 2003 Road Map for Peace “is the only political plan accepted by Israel, the Palestinians, the Americans and a majority of the international community. We are willing to proceed toward its implementation: two states Israel and a Palestinian State living side by side in tranquility, security and peace.”
President Bush outlines view of Palestinian-Israeli settlement with Israeli Prime Minister: two state solution, borders to take into account changes in territories since 1967 War, and refugee resettlement in a future Palestinian state.
In preparing the Israeli public, Prime Minister Sharon outlines his government's preparations for Israel's August 2005 unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Sharon's optimism includes hopes for a long-lasting Israeli-Palestinian agreement, rebuilding the Israeli econonmy, and improving citizen's security. Within a year of the speech, he suffers a debilitating stroke; the Gaza withdrawal in 30 months becomes a hazard to Israel's security.
Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian leader Abbas meet in Washington to ‘kick start’ negotiations by implementing previous promises; the US is to judge performance to see if a treaty can result. It does not.
Following two weeks of Israeli-Hamas fighting, it calls for a cease-fire, and for a “lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by peaceful means.” The Hamas-Israeli war occurs again in 2013-2014.
Obama, to improve America’s image with Muslim public opinion, stresses that Islam is not that of the ideological radicals. His advocacy of ‘soft power’ distinguishes his administration from Bush II’s use of force. He did not state directly that Iran should be stopped from developing a nuclear weapon. He said that US commitment to Israel is ‘unbreakable.’ Nine years later Trump’s Secretary of State, also in Cairo heavily criticized Obama’s ‘soft power’ approach.
Thirteen years ago, then Prime Minister Netanyahu endorsed the evolution of a Palestinian state, stipulating that it had to be demilitarized, and he would not rule out a complete halt to settlement activity, noting that Palestinian refugees would not be resettled inside Israel's borders.
The speech is typical of high American office holders in summarizing the US-Israeli relationship; it affirms an unshakable relationship, support for Israeli security, and the need for negotiating progress.
Netanyahu devotes the bulk of his speech to the Iranian threat, its desire to acquire a nuclear weapon, and its sponsorship of terrorism internationally. He speaks proudly of the US-Israeli relationship.
Vice President Joe Biden emphatically tells a rabbinic group in Atlanta, “unambiguously, were I an Israeli, were I a Jew, I would not contract out my security to anybody, even to a loyal, loyal friend like the United States.”
Building on a collaborative relationship of over 50 years, the US once again affirms its strategic commitments to Israel through an additional “Security Cooperation Act.” The agreement bolsters American military and financial aid to Israel.
In Jerusalem, Obama affirms the bonds in the US-Israeli relationship, praises Israel’s democracy, calls for Israelis to support a democratic Palestinian state, and Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
As part of the US negotiating team, Indyk enumerates why talks faltered after nine months. He asserts Israeli settlement activity undermined Palestinian trust for Israel. He also blames Palestinian indecision.
US President announces creation of a coalition of countries to fight against the Islamic state in Syria and Iraq. His plan calls for limited US military action with supplies provided to others fighting on the ground.
European Parliament calls for recognition of Palestinian statehood in the context for a negotiated two-state solution for Palestinians and Israelis; it outlines the political and geographic contours for a negotiated outcome.
Netanyahu praises the Obama administration for its support of Israel’s security, then roundly criticizes it for negotiating a deal with Iran that will not roll back its nuclear breakout time and for not demanding that before sanctions are lifted that Iran stop its support of terrorism and threats to wipe Israel off the map.
Vigorously promoting this Iran Deal as a viable way to block and limit Iran pathways to a bomb. While recognizing Israel’s intense trepidation to the deal, he forcefully claims that war remains the only alternative to accepting this agreement, or to any changes to the agreement.
Netanyahu reproaches the international community for supporting the Iran deal, the UN for its deafening silence against threats to Israel, and, against Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for promising to cancel all agreements with Israel.
Kerry states five major objectives for US foreign policy in the Middle East: mobilize partners to defeat ISIS, work diplomatically to end the civil war in Syria, keep it from destabilizing friendly nearby countries, monitor Iranian adherence to the nuclear deal, and seek a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Claiming that Israel employs a double legal standard in the West Bank, US Ambassador Dan Shapiro receives a harsh rebuke for his remarks from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu; Obama administration continues to chide Israel for its management of the West Bank.
US National Security Adviser, Susan Rice presented the Obama administration’s two pronged outlook toward Israel: strong and unwavering American administration support for Israel’s long term security, and emphatic opposition to continued Israeli settlement activities.
Despite a pattern of the US using its veto power to sink UNSC resolutions that were critical of Israel, the Obama administration in its last days in office, and deeply perturbed by Israel's settlement policies, abstained from voting on this resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction, including East Jerusalem.
Backpedaling from previously hardline statements on Islam, President Trump refers to Islam as “one of the world’s great faiths” calling for “tolerance and respect for each other.” He implored Muslim leaders to fight against radical Islam, which he portrayed as a “…a battle between good and evil.”
After visiting Saudi Arabia, Trump meets with Netanyahu where both assert joint views on the peace process, Iran, regional cooperation, and the long-standing relationship between Israel and the US; Trumps second meeting with Netanyahu since taking office.
President Trump’s proclamation to “officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel” breaks precedent. In doing so, he incurs bipartisan support in the US congress, but a flurry of criticism from analysts, diplomats and foreign leaders. In his remarks, Trump rebukes claims that he disqualified the US as a “reliable mediator” in future Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.
Vice President Pence firmly expresses American commitments to Israel’s security and commitment to the Arab-Israeli peace process. Palestinian Authority President Abbas and other Arab officials loudly criticize the speech and refuse to meet with Pence during his Middle East visit because of earlier US promise to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Responding to PA President Abass’ earlier speech at the UN and the PA’s rejection of the US as a legitimate participant in future Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, Ambassador Halley clarified American positions on Jerusalem and the negotiating process.
With reams of evidence secured by Israeli intelligence, the PM calls out Iran for lying about their nuclear activities both before and since signing the 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement with six countries.
(9 July 2018) https://www.timesofisrael.com/final-text-of-jewish-nation-state-bill-set-to-become-law/ 1 — Basic principles A. The land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, in which the State of Israel was established. B. The State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, in which it fulfills its natural, cultural, religious and historical right to self-determination. C. […]
(10 January 2019) https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2019/01/288410.htm Ten Years after President Obama spoke at American University in Cairo, Secretary of State Pompeo intentionally uses the same venue to deliver a Trump administration rebuke of the former’s policies in the region. Obama spoke of using ‘soft power;’ his predecessor George Bush II used military force in Iraq and Afghanistan; […]
A former IDF General, Benny Gantz’s speech officially launched his campaign to replace current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in April 2019 elections. With pride of ownership, Gantz spoke of his love of Zionism, the Jewish people and the state of Israel. He intoned for new leadership, not-self-absorbed, reminding his listeners that his army career of 38 years reflected a keenness to protect the state, a place where he made tough decisions. He warned Israel’s adversaries while calling for an end to domestic divisions and corruption. He called for a moral government that will do its best for all of its citizens in the fields of education, business, health care. His maiden political speech reflected a definite pragmatic and centrist outlook.
https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-recognizing-golan-heights-part-state-israel/ (25 March 2019) The State of Israel took control of the Golan Heights in 1967 to safeguard its security from external threats. Today, aggressive acts by Iran and terrorist groups, including Hizballah, in southern Syria continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks on Israel. Any possible future peace agreement […]
The plan builds on previous proposals for a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and contains a US-Israeli agreement that sets forth final borders for two states. The plan contains multiple prerequisites for Palestinian behavior before either the US or Israel might agree to Palestinian statehood as well as a proposed $50 economic development package to be allotted over a decade.
Israeli Likud and Blue and White parties agree to a three-year national unity coalition government with a rotation of Prime Ministers (Netanyahu and Gantz) to take place after 18 months. The Covid-19 pandemic, earlier paralysis in coalition formation, and President Rivlin's urging catalyze the coalition agreement.
President Trump announces the diplomatic breakthrough, in which Israel halts its plans to annex parts of the West Bank, and in return, the UAE agrees to full diplomatic relations with Israel. This took place without any Israeli commitments to withdrawal from lands it won in the June 1967 war.
Quietly pursued in the past, long-standing strategic ties between Israel and Gulf states have become public. Building on the historic Joint Agreement signed between Israel and the UAE in August 2020, the Abraham Accords serve as a framework for normalizing diplomatic relations between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain.
UAE and Bahraini ambassadors to the US provide incisively sharp assessments about why their peace accords unfolded with Israel in September 2020: to halt West Bank annexation, strengthen ties with the US, enhance national security purposes, and stimulate, if possible Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.
A week after Antony Blinken's confirmation as Secretary of State, the Acting US Ambassador to the UN outlined with considerable detail the administration's objective to an agreed, not imposed two-state resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.
Prime Minister Bennett outlines and offers details for meeting domestic and foreign policy challenges facing Israel. He asks all the citizens of Israel to forge together under the banners of realism and practical solutions.
Affirming Israel's strong relationship with the US and Jerusalem's normalized relations with six Arab states, Israel’s Bennett castigates Iran for its support of toxic regional insurgencies, and promising to prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon. He makes no mention of the Palestinian issue.
Yair Lapid, the leader of the Yesh Atid Party, graciously thanked his predecessor, Naftali Bennett for his service. As Prime Minister at least until a month or so after the scheduled November 1, Knesset elections, Lapid emphasized the value of Israel’s inclusive democratic principles. He affirmed a commitment to keep Israel a majority Jewish state, and with that support for a strong economy. While stressing Israel’s security and defense needs including those from “Gaza to Iran,” he spoke hopefully of solidifying Israel’s regional security presence based on the 2020 Abraham Accords.
On President Biden's trip to Israel, he and Prime Minister Lapid affirmed the long term US-Israel Strategic relationship. The US committed itself never to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon and to work with other powers to curb Iran's destabilizing influences in the region. Washington also committed itself to strengthening and broadening the Abraham Accords.
The focus of Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s first speech at the UN was a political weather report of Israel’s relations with Arab neighbors. He lauded Arab states for embracing Israel, hoped that Israel could move toward a two-state solution with the Palestinians, and blistered the hate spewing from Hamas and Iran; Israel he said, would not tolerate Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon.
In December President Herzog visited Manama, Bahrain, his fourth visit to a Middle Eastern country in 2022, (Abu Dhabi in January, Istanbul in March, Amman in June, and Sharm El-Sheikh in November), all aimed at bolstering Israel's economic, cultural and bi-lateral relations with Arab states. Talks on this trip focused on expanding trade and sharing among others, Israel's solar and desalinazation technologies.
After Israel's Attorney General, Gali Baharav-Miara met with Israel's newly elected Justice Minister Yariv Levin about the Netanyahu government’s proposal to overhaul the judicial system, the Attorney General crisply and cogently offers her opposition to that proposal. (Hebrew version included)
In midst of the massive public protest against the Netanyahu government's suggested four changes to overhaul the Israeli judicial system, In response, Israel's Attorney General outlined her opposition to the changes and the manner in which they were taking place. Then the Israeli Supreme Court Justices petitioned the government to halt the changes and establish a public committee to review Israel's Basic Laws, including the Seventh Basic Law (1984) on Israel's Judiciary.
In a rare address to the nation, Herzog called for deliberate compromise in the wake of the Netanyahu government's proposed massive overhaul of the judicial system. It generated the largest public outpouring of opposition to a proposed policy, since the issue of German reparations to Israel was considered in 1951-52. Herzog sought to calm extraordinary high emotions.
Following up his for compromise on the matter of the massive proposed judicial reform overhaul, President Isaac Herzog, in the starkest of terms, said Israel was at the “abyss of a civil war,” as opponents and proponents headed toward a consequential showdown. He characterized the attempted overhaul as “wrong, oppressive, and undermines our democratic foundations.” He suggested a wide ranging consensus compromise plan for the sides to consider. Prime Minister Netanyahu rejected Herzog's compromise plea.
President Herzog offers a compromise to the coalition's proposed judicial overhaul in the forms of enacting a new Basic Law, and writing amendments to existing Basic Laws. Its detail suggests considerable behind the scenes discussion, and if only portions are enacted upon, this document could be seen in the future as a benchmark in Israel's "constitutional" history.
Prime Minister Netanyahu offers two speeches to the nation within four days, emphatically not pausing the judicial overhaul process and then calling for a pause to it. Netanyahu's 2012 firm statement protecting the Supreme Court's Independence is notable.
In just under an hour, Herzog emphasized the special US-Israeli relationship, citing common values between the two democracies, noting, "when the US is strong, Israel is stronger. And when Israel is strong, the US is more secure." He cited Israel's domestic and foreign policy challenges in its 75th year.
The Prime Minister presented the view that his coalition carried out a necessary step to 'restore a measure of balance' between governmental institutions. He indicated that discussions about the other elements of the proposed judicial overhaul would take place between now and November. Specifically he asked members of the Israel Defense Forces to remain outside of the current political controversies.