How Did We Get Here?
A History of the Israel-Palestine Conflict
8. US Policy Towards Israel and Palestine
This is the eighth in a series of eight lectures, sponsored by
A Jewish Voice for Peace.
This lecture was videotaped on Dec. 9, 2002. The lecturer is Stephen Zunes.
About Stephen Zunes
Associate Professor of Politics and Chair of the Peace & Justice
Studies Program at the University of San Francisco. He serves as a
senior policy analyst and Middle East editor for the Foreign Policy in
Focus Project. Zunes received a B.A. from Oberlin College, M.A. from
Temple University, and Ph.D. from Cornell University.
His books include:
- Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism,
2002, Common Courage Press.
- Nonviolent Social Movements: A Geographical Perspective, edited
with Lester R. Kurtz and Sarah Beth Asher, 1999, Blackwell.
The following is a brief chronology of major events relating to the
- Nov. 2: Britain issues Balfour Declaration, promising Jews a
"National Home" in Palestine.
- Nov. 13: Britain announces formation of an Anglo-American
Committee of Inquiry to investigate Britain's handling of Palestine.
- Apr. 20: The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry submits its
report, recommending immediate authorization of 100,000 Jews into Palestine.
- Nov. 29: UN resolution for the partition of Palestine; US
votes in favor.
- May 14: US recognizes Israel on a de facto basis.
- Sept. 17: UN mediator Count Folke Bernadotte assassinated in
Jerusalem by members of Jewish LEHI militia.
- Dec. 11: UN Resolution 194 calls for cessation of hostilities,
return of refugees who wish to live in peace.
- Jan. 31: US recognizes Israel on a de jure basis.
- Feb. 24-July 20: Israel signs armistice agreements with Egypt,
Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.
- Dec. 9: Israel admitted to UN membership.
- May 25: Britain, France, and U.S. issue Tripartite Declaration
on regulating the supply of arms to the Middle East.
- July 23: Egypt's King Farouk overthrown by Free Officer's
Movement, leading in 1954 to Gamal Abdel Nasser gaining power in 1954.
- July: Lavon Affair: Israeli spies in Egypt sabotage British
and US property hoping to focus blame on Egyptian terrorists.
- Feb. 24: Iraq and Turkey sign Baghdad Pact.
- July: US withdraws funding of Egypt's Aswan dam; Egypt
nationalizes Suez Canal.
- Oct. 29-Nov. 7: Suez War. US and USSR force return to status
before war, forcing Israel to retreat from Sinai and leaving Egypt in
control of the Suez Canal.
- Apr.: US agrees to sell Hawk anti-aircraft missiles to Israel.
- June 5-10: Israel's Six Day War, leaving Israel occupying the
West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula (Egypt), and Golan (Syrian) Heights.
- June 27: Israel annexes East Jerusalem.
- Nov. 22: UN Security Council passes Resolution 242.
- Dec. 9: US Secretary of State William Rogers outlines US
proposals for an Israeli-Arab peace settlement.
- Dec. 22: Israel rejects Rogers plan.
- Sept.: "Black September"; Jordan crushes Palestinian fedayeen.
- Oct. 6: Egypt and Syria attack Israel in the October (Ramadan,
or Yom Kippur) War to regain territories lost in June 1967 war. US provides
major resupply of arms to Israel.
- Oct. 22: UN Security Council Resolution 338 calls for
Dec. 21: Geneva peace conference.
- Apr. 13: Outbreak of civil war in Lebanon.
- May 17: Menachem Begin and Likud party rise to power in Israel.
- Nov. 20: President Anwar al-Sadat of Egypt addresses Israeli
- Sept. 17: Camp David accords signed by Jimmy Carter, Anwar
al-Sadat, and Menachem Begin.
- Feb. 1: Islamic revolution in Iran.
- Mar. 26: Israel-Egypt peace treaty signed at White House.
- June 7: Israel bombs Iraqi nuclear reactor.
- Oct. 6: Anwar al-Sadat assassinated.
- Nov. 30: US and Israel sign memorandum of understanding on
- Dec. 14: Israel annexes Golan Heights.
- Dec. 18: US suspends agreement on strategic cooperation with
- June 6: Israel invades Lebanon (Operation Peace for Galilee).
- Aug. 21: US mediation arranges for PLO militia to leave Lebanon.
- Sept. 1: President Reagan announces new peace plan for Middle
- Aug. 28: Menachem Begin resigns and Yitzhak Shamir succeeds.
- Oct. 1: Israel bombs PLO headquarters in Tunis, killing more
than 70 people.
- Apr. 15: US air attack on Libya.
- Oct. 5: Sunday Times of London publishes a report quoting
former Israeli nuclear arms technician Mordechai Vanunu as saying that
Israel has been building and stockpiling atomic weapons at Dimona
nuclear facility for 20 years.
- Feb. 3: US officials state new peace proposal including US
mediated Israeli-Jordan negotiations by Sept. 30 to achieve limited
Palestinian self-rule in occupied territories and direct negotiations
in Dec. to reach final settlement.
- Feb. 7: US vetoes UN Security Council Resolution demanding
that Israel abide by terms of 4th Geneva Convention and calling for
international conference on Arab-Israeli conflict.
- Apr. 16: US vetoes UN Security Council Resolution calling
on Israel to end deportation of Palestinians.
- July 18: End of Iran-Iraq war.
- July 31: King Hussein (Jordan) announces disengagement with
the West Bank. This removes the last obstacle to recognizing the PLO
as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
- Nov. 15: Palestine National Council in Algiers conditionally
accepts UN Resolutions 181, 242, and 338.
- Nov. 26: US rejects Arafat's request for a visa that would
permit him to address the UN General Assembly; on Dec. 1, the UN
General Assembly votes 151-2 to condemn the US for denying Arafat
the visa; on Dec. 3 the UN General Assembly voted to move to Geneva
to hear Arafat speak.
- Aug. 2: Iraq invades Kuwait.
- Jan. 16-Feb. 28: Gulf War.
- Mar.: President Bush announces major new Middle Eastern peace
- Oct. 30-31: Middle East peace conference convenes in Madrid.
- Sept. 13: Israel-PLO Declaation of Principles (Oslo Agreement)
signed in White House.
- Oct. 26: Israel and Jordan sign peace treaty.
- Dec. 23: Israeli and Syrian chiefs of staff hold talks in
- Sept. 28: Israel-Palestinian Interim Agreement (Oslo II)
- Nov. 4: Yitzhak Rabin assassinated; Shimon Peres succeeds.
- May 29: Binyamin Netanyahu defeats Peres in Israeli elections.
- Oct.: Wye River Plantation talks result in agreement for
further Israeli redeployments in West Bank.
- May 17: Ehud Barak defeats Netanyahu in Israeli elections.
- July: Camp David final settlement talks fail to reach agreement.
- Sept. 28: Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount leads to
demonstrations, riots, heavy repression, igniting second (Al-Aqsa) intifada.
- Feb. 6: Ariel Sharon elected Prime Minister.
- Apr.: Mitchell commission recommendations for restoration of
peace, returning to negotiating table.
- Sept. 11: Terrorist attacks on World Trade Center and Pentagon.
- Mar.: Saudi Prince Abdullah proposes peace plan, where Israel
withdraws to 1967 borders in exchange for Arab recognition.
- Mar. 19: US invades Iraq; Baghdad falls Apr. 9, and "major
hostilities" declared ended May 1.
- Apr. 24: Abu Mazen appointed Prime Minister of PNA.
- June 4: Aqaba Summit, where Abu Mazen and Sharon agree to
end violence under US-backed "road map".
- Sept. 16: US vetoes UN Security Council resolution asking
Israel to desist from its threat to deport Yasser Arafat.
- American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC): The prominent
conservative American Zionist lobby group.
- Americans for Peace Now (APN): A liberal American Zionist group,
allied with Israel's Peace Now movement, which supports two, separate
states for Israel and Palestine.
- Nancy Pelosi (): Democratic congresswoman from San Francisco,
now House Minority Leader; singled out by Zunes for her hawkish support
- Jonathan Pollard (): US Navy intelligence analyst, convicted
of spying for Israel and sentenced for life.
The website suggests the following books for further information on this
The following are useful books that we are familiar with and recommend:
- Stephen Zunes, Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of
Terrorism, 2002, Common Courage Press.
- Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World,
2000, W.W. Norton, paperback.
- Kathleen Christison, Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence
on U.S. Middle East Policy, updated edition, 2001, University of
- Noam Chomsky, Middle-East Illusions, 2003, Rowman &
- Charles Enderlin, Shattered Dreams: The Failure of the Peace
Process in the Middle East, 1995-2002, Other Press, 2003.