Explore Documents, Reports and Speeches by Era
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.
Access 450+ documents about Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Biblical Times to 1897
With the Abrahamic and Sinaitic covenants, Jews bound themselves to belief in one G-d, an unbreakable tie to the land of Israel, and commitment to Torah. These foundations of Jewish faith sustained Jewish identity for more than 3000 years. Jews became a people. In the ancient Middle East, they became a nation in the land of Israel. Though driven from their land twice before the end of the first century AD, Jews retained their beliefs. READ MORE
16th to 8th Century BCE: G-d promises Jews a great nation in return for observance of belief and practice
The Hebrew Bible, Prophetic Books, the Talmud, the daily prayer book, and ancient Jewish texts reinforce Judaism’s relationship to G-d and Eretz Yisrael.
February 1896: Eventual head of the World Zionist Organization, Theodor Herzl says anti-Semitism requires
a Jewish state.
1898 to 1948: Autonomy to Sovereignty
From 1898 to 1948, Zionism evolved from an idea to a concrete reality: the actual establishment of the Jewish state, Israel. When Herzl wrote his idea for The Jewish State, Jews had little political power, and almost no financial resources with which to bring the Zionist idea to fruition. Jews had remained steadfast in their communal commitment to preserve their identity. READ MORE
October 14, 1915 – The Sherif of Mecca and a British official in Cairo exchanged letters about the current war effort against the Turks, and the future political status of specific Arab lands in Ottoman Empire.
May 16, 1916: Britain and France secretly divide the Arab provinces of the former Ottoman Empire to meet
their own geopolitical interests; no concern offered to political aspirations of indigenous populations.
November 2, 1917: British Foreign Ministry promises to set up a Jewish National Home in Palestine with no
harm to non-Jewish populations, or to Jews living elsewhere who might want to support a Jewish home.
January 1919 – March 1919 –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.
July 24, 1922: International legitimacy is granted to establish a Jewish National Home in Palestine. Rules
for its establishment clearly give Jews in Palestine distinct advantages over the local Arab population.
July 1922: British intentionally define imprecise Jewish growth in Palestine according to the “capacity
of the country to absorb new immigrants.” Britain seeks Jewish generated funds to support their presence in
August 1930: 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.
July 1937: After outbreak of communal violence, the British investigatory committee suggests partition of
Palestine, seeking to create two states for two peoples.
December 31, 1937: 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
September 30, 1938: A Zionist intelligence report quoting a leading Palestinian estimates that the Jews are determined to create a state and unless Arab states provide manpower and financial aid to the Palestinians, the Zionists will succeed.
January 1939: Agronsky’s clear assessment of 1936-1939 disturbances provides a graphic description of the devastation caused to Palestine’s rural economy and to the majority Arab population.
March 1939: Mufti opposes Arab majority state in ten years contrary to wishes of a dozen key other
Palestinian leaders. Mufti wants no Jewish political presence in Palestine whatsoever.
May 1939: Capitulating to Arab political pressures, the British throttle growth of Jewish national home,
limiting Jewish immigration and land purchase for the subsequent five years.
May 11, 1942: In New York, urging American (Jewish) support, Ben-Gurion proclaims the eventual
establishment of a Jewish state.
May 13, 1945: Moshe Sharett urges British and US to open Palestine to unimpeded Jewish immigration from Europe.
November 1945: Circumventing the existing law on prohibition of land sales to Jews, Palestinian Arabs are found selling lands regularly and furtively to Zionists.
March 1947: Fearing Communist penetration of the Eastern Mediterranean, Truman at the beginning of the Cold War defines the region as a sphere of US national interest.
May 1947: 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.
September 1947: The head of Arab League says Palestine may be lost in a confrontation with the Zionists, but emphatically states that war is the Arab’s only option.
November 29, 1947: The UN decides Arab and Jewish states should be created as a solution to the Arab-Zionist
conflict. The Plan calls for an economic union of the two states and an international regime to be set up
February 24, 1948: Worried about Arab opposition to a Jewish state, the US State Department opposes partition
even after the UN voted for it the previous November.
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.
December 10, 1948: Israel’s proposed written constitution was never ratified though it spoke eloquently about protecting individual, religious, and civil rights for all. Instead individual civil rights in Israel were protected by a series of Basic Laws.
December 11, 1948: 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.
1949 to 1979: Sovereignty to Recognition
For the Zionists, the period of 1898 to 1947 was preoccupied with state-seeking and state-making; they went from struggling to achieve political prerogatives under restrictive British political autonomy to achieving sovereign independence. Fifty years before Israel was established, Zionists built a sufficient national territory that linked people to the land and keenly developed economic, social and political institutions that served the needs of its population. READ MORE
February 1949: One of four agreements Israel signed in 1949 with Arab neighbors, it does not end “state of war,”
between Israel and Arab states. No treaty is signed until 1979.
June 15, 1949: Sharett gives an overview of Israeli foreign policy, key issues, and relationships with UN and
July 5, 1950: Jews worldwide are given the right to come to Israel and become citizens.
January 7, 1952: In an impassioned Knesset speech, Menachem Begin staunchly opposes accepting $1.5 billion in German reparations for Jewish deaths during WWII. No price, he believes, can be put on the lives lost.
January 1957: Further reinforcing the Truman Doctrine, the US President promises military or economic aid to
any Middle Eastern country resisting Communist aggression.
February 12, 1958: With no constitution, citizen rights and government responsibilities are stated in 12 laws.
May 1964: Palestine Liberation Organization seeks Israel’s destruction through armed struggle. It retains this
stated policy until December 1988.
May 28, 1967: 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.
May 29, 1967: Nasser asserts that the conflict with Israel is not over access to the Gulf of Aqaba but the very existence of Israel; Egypt’s foes are Britain and the US that support Israel.
June 3, 1967: A detailed outline is presented of events that led to the June 1967 War.
June 9, 1967: 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.
June 12, 1967: 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.
June 19, 1967: 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.
June 28, 1967: 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 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.
September 1, 1967: Arab states declare “no peace, no negotiation, no recognition” with Israel after their collective defeat in the June 1967 War.
November 22, 1967: The Resolution calls for unspecified Israel withdrawal from territories in return for right of all states to live in peace.
October 1969: Without any consultation with Jerusalem, Israel rejects US proposal for full withdrawal.
Transcript of Secret Talks between Egyptian National Security Hafez Ismail and US National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger
February 25-26, 1973: Egypt seeks US pressure on Israel to withdraw from Sinai; Kissinger declines becoming
engaged in diplomacy though Egypt stated willingness to reach an agreement, not a treaty, with Israel.
October 6, 1973: 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.
October 22, 1973: This UN Resolution calls for cease-fire to end the 1973 War and for direct negotiations to
commence between the parties. This is the first UN resolution to call for direct Arab-Israeli talks.
January 18, 1974: 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
January 18, 1974: The US mediates an agreement separating forces in Sinai after the 1973 War; Egyptian and Israeli
generals will negotiate additional details.
May 31, 1974: On Golan Heights, Israel agrees to limited withdrawal; UN places forces between Syrian and Israeli armies. With few exceptions this border remains almost totally quiet for more than forty years.
Promises About Negotiations by President Gerald R. Ford to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Excerpt of Letter
September 1, 1975: President Ford promises that the US will give “weight” to any future Israeli peace agreement with Syria that Israel should remain in the Golan Heights.
September 4, 1975: Cairo and Jerusalem agree to additional Sinai withdrawals, demilitarized zones, limited force zones and, importantly, placement of US civilians in Sinai to monitor observance of agreement.
September 17, 1975: 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).
November 10, 1975: Led by USSR and Arab states, Zionism is labeled as racist; the resolution is revoked in 1991.
November 12, 1975: For the first time a US State Department official states the “legitimate interests of the
Palestinian Arabs must be taken into account in the negotiating of an Arab-Israeli peace.”
December 1975: 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.
March 16, 1977: 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.
“The Framework for the Peace-Making Process between Israel and its Neighbors,” Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin presented to President Jimmy Carter
July 19, 1977: 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.
September 16, 1977: Israeli and Egyptian representatives meet secretly in Morocco to test intentions for direct talks between their leaders, with details of the meetings unknown to the United States.
October 1, 1977: Naively, the Carter Administration believes that a conference with the USSR would start
comprehensive negotiations; instead, the fear of Moscow’s engagement helps drive direct Egyptian-Israeli talks.
October 4, 1977: After brutally frank and caustic meetings between Israeli Foreign Minister Dayan and President
Carter, the US relents to Israeli demands that a peace conference be only an opening for direct talks.
November 20, 1977: 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.
November 20, 1977: Begin welcomes Sadat’s bold initiative, seeking an end to the conflict with other Arab states through negotiated treaties. Begin invites other Arab leaders to negotiate as Sadat was doing.
January 1, 1978: 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.
September 17, 1978: With President Carter mediating, Sadat and Begin agree to two outlines: a framework for a treaty between them and to define Palestinian “autonomy,” not self-determination or a state for them.
September 20, 1978: 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.
March 26, 1979: 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.
Memorandum of Agreement between the Governments of the United States of America and the State of Israel
March 26, 1979: 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.
1980 to Present: Recognition to Normalization
European Community, “Venice Declaration” on the Middle East Concerning the Inclusion of the PLO in Negotiations
June 1980: 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.”
November 30, 1981: It calls for building a mutual security relationship and for enhancing strategic cooperation to
deter Soviet threats to the region. Establishment of a consultation framework is a key to the agreement.
June 1982 – February 1983: 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
September 1, 1982: US endorses application of UN Resolution 242 to the West Bank and Gaza, and seeks Palestinian
control over land and resources, and for the territories to be affiliated with Jordan.
November 29, 1983: 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
April 21, 1988: It affirms close relationship between US and Israel based on common goals, establishes the US-Israel
Free Trade Agreement, and institutes multiple regular meetings between Israeli and US officials.
August 18, 1988: Founded in Gaza, Hamas absolutely opposes Israel’s right to exist and any negotiations or
recognition of Israel; in contesting leadership, Hamas severely fragments Palestinian politics for a quarter
October 30, 1991: After the 1991 Gulf War, the US orchestrates a conference with Israel, multiple Arab states, and
Palestinians participating; the conference leads to bilateral and multilateral negotiations.
September 9, 1993: Four days before signing the Oslo Accords, the PLO and Israel recognize each other. Israel’s
Rabin worries about the growth of Hamas influence, thus elevates the PLO through international recognition.
September 13, 1993: Negotiated through the Norwegians, the Accords call for limited Palestinian rule in some of
the territories; it did not call for a Palestinian state or an end to settlements.
October 26, 1994: Jordan becomes the second Arab country after Egypt (1979) to sign a peace treaty ending the
state of war with Israel.
November 1, 1995: Explaining why he signed the Oslo Accords with the PLO, Rabin sought to elevate Palestinian
secular nationalism rather than have it overtaken by advancing Hamas’s Islamic theology.
March 28, 1996: 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.
April 30, 1996: President Clinton and Prime Minister Peres agree to deepen cooperation between their countries
through regular consultation in all economic, political, military spheres.
October 23, 1998: With Israeli-Palestinian talks in a hapless state, President Clinton rejuvenates them. In the
Arafat-Netanyahu agreement Israel shares Hebron, with the CIA playing a role in West Bank security.
June 13, 2000: 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.
October 2000: Responding to two weeks of violence in the Arab sector, the Government’s report blames several
political and community leaders for mismanagement, and sets up a permanent Ministerial Committee for Arab affairs.
December 23, 2000: 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.
May 8, 2001: 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.
March 12, 2002: This is the first UN resolution to call for “two States, Israel and Palestine, to live side by
side within secure and recognized borders.”
March 28, 2002: 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
April 4, 2002: He castigates PLO leader Arafat for support of terrorism and condemns Palestinian groups that “seek
Israel’s destruction.” Bush suggests to Israel to support economically a viable Palestinian state.
A Roadmap for a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Presented by the Quartet, European Union, United Nations, Russia and the United States
April 30, 2003: As a negotiating plan it seeks an end to the conflict with reciprocal performance objectives.
Israel accepts the plan with some reservations; Hamas rejects it out of hand. The plan is not enacted.
April 14, 2004 – 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.
November 27, 2007: 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.
January 8, 2009: 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.
June 14, 2009: In this foreign policy address, Netanyahu outlines his resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli
conflict in five major points, all based on two states for two peoples. He did not present a timetable, only
May 19, 2011: Focusing on the Arab spring and Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, Obama seeks democratic reform in the region and advocates two states for two peoples based on the 1967 lines with land swaps.
December 2, 2011: 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.
March 3, 2012: 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.
July 27, 2012: 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.
March 21, 2013: 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
December 7, 2013: Kerry reaffirms that the US-Israeli relationship as an “unshakable bond” and calls for a
two-state solution. He promises that the US will “never allow” Iran to gain a nuclear weapon.
January 20, 2014: As the first Canadian Prime Minister to address the Knesset, Harper asserts Canada’s long-time
friendship with Israel. Two days later, Canada signs a strategic cooperation agreement with Israel.
May 8, 2014: 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.
September 24, 2014: 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
November 24, 2014: Prosor accuses the UN of duplicity and hypocrisy because it is constantly critical of Israel, but not of radical Muslims for killing of Yazidis, Bahais, Kurds, and Christians.
European Parliament Calls for Recognition of Palestinian Statehood in Context with two States Living Side by Side
December 17, 2014: 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.
March 3, 2015: 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.
August 5, 2015: 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.
October 1, 2015: 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.
December 5, 2015: 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.
January 18, 2016: 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.
June 16, 2016: 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.
September 22, 2016: After pouring heaping criticism upon the UN’s historic antagonist resolutions against Israel, Netanyahu praised growing closeness with Arab neighbors. He extended an invitation to PA leader Abbas to restart negotiations.
December 23, 2016: In abstaining on a resolution condemning Israeli settlements including those in Jerusalem, the US engages the wrath of Israeli leaders and supporters.
December 28, 2016: With exasperating passion, Kerry lashes out at Israel for its settlements construction as the major barrier to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.