I've been watching "House of Cards". I understand it is mainly fiction, yet as a non-American, I cannot tell real ideas within the U. S. government apart from made-up ones. In the 1st season, we hear one of the characters say —

Let me further say that I'm a strong supporter of the state of Israel.

As the most stable country in the region and our strongest ally in any peace process, because without the stability of Israel, there can be no Palestine.

[Edited for continuity. Emboldening added.]

Is this really something a U. S. politician could say out loud Is this an opinion that US politicians actually have? (the question is no rant in disguise - I am not approving or disapproving of those words)? Besides, how could such a belief be backed up?

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    I don't remember the context, so I wonder whether the statement means "a Palestinian state will fail if Israel is not strong" or "I will not agree to support a political agreement that guarantees a Palestinian state unless it also guarantees a strong Israel."
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 17:04
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    This is a question about an interpretation of the meaning of a sentence in a TV Show. I don't think it is on topic, or answerable.
    – Rekesoft
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 14:08
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    @Rekesoft sorry, but I believe you didn't quite get the question. I'm asking about whether such a sentence is used in U. S. politics. HoC is there just to show where I got the idea from. Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 15:57
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    @CGCampbell it's quite clear to me that the question is about whether the line uttered by the fictional US politician reflects any real-life position of any real-life US politicians (or perhaps of any politicians anywhere). That question can be answered objectively (though the existing answers do not actually answer it). Therefore, it seems a perfect fit for this site, and I have voted to reopen it.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 17:01
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    I think everyone seems to be hung up on the word "could", which makes your question sound hypothetical. I think a better phrasing would be something like, "Is this an opinion that US politicians actually have?"
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 17:03

3 Answers 3


First of all, it depends what you mean by "Palestine". If you mean a separate formal nation of Palestine, as opposed to being part of some of the other countries in the neighborhood that could be debated. Tim's answer is not incorrect.

But remember that the entire area was controlled by the Ottoman Empire until WW1, so the notion of pre-existing Middle Eastern states is fluid, sometimes very fluid as in the case of Iraq, which was a British creation. Or, to take Jordan.

To reframe the question:

If by Palestine you mean a self-controlled homeland for the Arab people who happened to live in the area prior to the 1890s (even as part of a larger Arab country), then no, Israel is most certainly not a prerequisite for that.

I am not disputing Israel's right to existence, I support a two state solution, and arguably there are worse places in the neighborhood to be of Arab descent. And Israeli-Arabs (not Gaza or West Bank) are better off on most metrics than anywhere else in the area, except arguably in the Gulf States.

But this TV quip is artless at best, whether or not some politicians choose to make use of similar arguments.

  • This seems to be an analysis of the situation in the region under discussion rather than an analysis of political views in the US. The question is about the latter.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 22:35
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    US politicians can say lots of things about Palestine, some of them may even be true. I chose to answer the title of the question, “There could be no Palestine without a strong Israel” - is this an actual idea? Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 22:37
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    But even that title is asking by implication whether it is an idea that anyone actually espouses. This answer analyzes the idea without discussing who promotes it or opposed it in public discourse or even mentioning whether the idea is in fact discussed in public discourse.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 23:10
  • The only other answer seems generally supportive of the idea that Palestine can't exist without Israel. Not many people, outside of the US, would agree with it. My answer approaches the problem from primarily the viewpoint of the right of people to self-determination. Call it a reframing if you wish, I may even add that to my answer, if it makes you happy. People do it all the time on SE.Po and it is accepted, as long as it is within reason. Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 23:24
  • @phoog: I think it's not a case of people in the US actually espousing the idea, or stating it publicly, as it is that it's taken as a given. It's not so much that Palestine couldn't exist without Israel, but that it wouldn't. The whole politics of the region would be different without Israel as a common enemy. There might have been a country called Palestine, the area could have been carved up by one or more of the other states, or those states might have fragmented without Israel as an external scapegoat.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 6:45

It has been pointed out that this sentence is subject to various interpretations. In the context of a US politician speaking, I think that the most likely interpretation is from the perspective of the current political situation: the two-state solution has been the main goal of a peaceful settlement of the conflict for decades. In this perspective, the sentence refers to the prerequisite by Israel to have their security guaranteed before giving Palestine more (or full) autonomy.

For most of its existence, Israel has been in a state of open or latent conflict with its neighbors. The need to defend the country against enemies is deeply ingrained in Israeli society, it's a major part of any government policy and it has significant concrete implications for the population. For example, Israel still has a military service duration of more than two years, much more than any other developed country.

Israel currently controls Palestine by force, and doesn't intend to loosen this control if doing so would jeopardize its own security. Since a real Palestine state would imply no military control and potentially a new hostile country for Israel, "there could be no Palestine without a strong Israel": unless Israel is sure to be strong enough to maintain its own security, it cannot accept a free state of Palestine.

Of course, the unavoidable and unfortunate consequence is the endless cycle of violence of the past few decades. Palestinians want to use their right to self-determination, they are understandably unhappy about Israeli occupation. Some Palestinians even turn to violent action against Israel. Israel feels understandably threatened and tightens its military control over Palestine, causing even more misery and resentment for Palestinians.

  • Thank you for this answer. This is a much more balanced explanation for a reasonable interpretation of this sentence. I know that some people who support Palestine can be critical of things like the security wall (on 1967 limits). Not me. To me, things that make Israelis feel safer can, with the right goodwill, move things towards a better outcome for Palestinians. Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 19:29

Historically, there was no Palestinian state. The 1947 partition plan which suggested the creation of separate Arab and Jewish states from mandatory Palestine was rejected by Arab leadership.

After the 1948 war, Egypt took control of Gaza and Transjordan took control of the West Bank, forming Jordan.

There was no intention on using this land to form a Palestinian state, and it remained part of Jordan until the six day war in 1967 when the area was claimed by Israel.

Now recognizing a state of Palestine became useful for anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda and large parts of the Arab world - including Jordan - recognized it in 1988.

So without a strong Israel, the West Bank would still be part of Jordan, Gaza would be part of Egypt, and there would be no land - nor desire - to build a Palestinian State.

  • So, basically, it is not Palestine itself who hinges on Israel, but the mere idea of Palestine (or its support from the outer world)? Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 17:02
  • @Zhiltsoff Igor: Yes. If you look at the history of the region, almost all of it was part of the Ottoman Empire until after WWI. The various countries are pretty much constructs of the victors,
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 18:21
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    How does this analysis relate to statements that a US politician might make?
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 22:37
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    Related : "This Land is Mine" Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 12:00

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