Origins and Development of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

By Ann M. Lesch; Dan Tschirgi | Go to book overview

5

The United States and the Arab-Israeli Conflict

The search for a definitive settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict became a major U.S. foreign policy priority only after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Previously, Washington had called for an end to the conflict and occasionally sought to interest the Arab states and Israel in cooperative development plans that could only be launched in the context of a peaceful settlement. But the real thrust of U.S. policy during the 1950s and most of the 1960s aimed at containing the conflict—at preventing the outbreak of further warfare at a time when the United States was preoccupied with the Cold War.

The basis of the policy through which the United States sought this goal was support of the principle of “territorial integrity” for all states in the Middle East. By impartially upholding this generally recognized international principle, the United States served notice to all parties in the Middle East that an aggressor would be punished, whereas a victim of aggression could expect support.

Washington's pre-1967 approach resulted from the original considerations that in the 1940s caused the U.S. government to seek as impartial a stance as possible toward the Arab-Zionist conflict in Palestine. The strategic and economic importance of the Middle East and its oil had been made clear by World War II. The Middle East's importance was enhanced even more as U.S.-Soviet relations developed into the Cold War in the late 1940s. Preventing the growth of Soviet influence in the Arab world therefore became a key U.S. foreign policy objective. However, during those same years, the Holocaust caused articulate U.S. public opinion to sympathize strongly with the Zionist cause. This sentiment was channeled by organized

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Origins and Development of the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Advisory Board vi
  • Contents vii
  • Series Foreword ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Chronology of Events xvii
  • The Arab-Israeli Conflict Explained 1
  • 1 - Historical Overview 3
  • Notes 39
  • 2 - Contradictory Nationalist Movements 41
  • 3 - The Israelis 57
  • 4 - The Palestinians 71
  • 5 - The United States and the Arab-Israeli Conflict 91
  • 6 - Conclusion 107
  • Glossary of Selected Terms 157
  • Annotated Bibliography 165
  • Index 179
  • About the Authors 193
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