Foreign Affairs
US-Palestine Relations: Foreign Policy History of US-Israel-Palestine Relations

The US and Palestine have a long history of rocky diplomatic relations. The head of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Mahmoud Abbas, began appealing for the creation of a Palestinian state at the United Nations on September 19, 2011 – and foreign policy history is interesting again as the US dictates.


Palestine is an Islamic region, or possibly several regions, surrounding the Jewish-Israeli state in the Middle East. Its four million people live mostly in the West Bank along the Jordan River and in the Gaza Strip near the Israeli border with Egypt.

Both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are occupied by Israel. This created Jewish Settlements in each place and many small wars ensued for control of those territories.

The United States has traditionally supported Israel and its right to exist as a recognized state. At the same time, the US has sought help from Arab nations in the Middle East to meet its energy needs and secure a safe environment for Israel. Both of those U.S. goals have kept the Palestinians in the middle of a political tug-of-war for nearly 65 years.


Jewish and Palestinian television began at the turn of the 20th century as many Jews around the world began the “Jewish” movement.

Discriminated against Ukraine and other parts of Europe, they sought their own territory around the biblical holy land of the Levant between the Mediterranean Sea and the banks of the Jordan River. They also wanted Jerusalem in that area. Palestinians also consider Jerusalem a holy Centre.

Great Britain, with a significant Jewish population of its own, supported Zionism. During the First World War, it took control of most of Palestine through the League of Final Overtime in 1922 and later controlled the war. In the 1920s and 1930s, they rebelled against British rule.

Only after the Nazis massacred Jews during the Holocaust of World War II did the international community begin to support the Jewish quest for a recognized state in the Middle East.

Division and Diaspora

The United Nations plans to divide the region into Jewish and Palestinian territories, each intending to oppose the other. In 1947, the Palestinians and Arabs of Finland, Egypt, Iraq and Syria started fighting against the Jews.

The same year marked the beginning of the Palestine Diaspora. Some 700,000 Palestinians were displaced as Israel’s borders became clearer.

On May 14, 1948, Israel declared its independence. The United States and many members of the United Nations recognized the new Jewish state. Palestinians call the date “Al-Nikba”, or annihilation.

The full-blown war was over. Israel defeated the Palestinian and Arab coalition, taking over the territory designated by the United Nations for Palestine.

Israel, however, always felt insecure because it did not occupy the West Bank, the Golan Heights, or the Gaza Strip. These territories will serve as buffers for Jordan, Syria and Egypt respectively. In 1967 and 1986, it was fighters and rebellions that took over the region. In 1967 it also captured the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt. Many Palestinians who fled the diaspora, or their descendants, found themselves under Israeli control. Although considered illegal under international law, Israel also established Jewish settlements in West Bengal.

US backing

The United States supported the Israelis in all those wars. The US has continuously sent military equipment and foreign aid to Israel.

However, US support for Israel has made its relations with Neighbouring Arab countries and the Palestinians problematic.

Palestinian displacement and the lack of an official Palestinian state constituted a central tenet of much anti-American Islamic and Arab sentiment.

The United States must craft a foreign policy that both Helps keep Israelis safe and allows US oil to reach Arab and shipping ports.

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