US military assistance to Israel dates back to 1962 when President Johnson decided to sell anti-aircraft missiles to them. Since then, the US has given Israel $110 billion of military aid. This makes them the largest recipient of US foreign aid in US history.

Successive US presidencies have used this aid to force Israel to negotiate. For example, in 1975 the Ford administration suspended a delivary of fighter jets until Israel partially withdrew from Egypt's Sinai peninsula. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter threatened to withhold aid altogether if Israel didn't agree to a full withdrawel, which it eventually did with the Camp David Peace Accords with Egypt. In 1983, the Reagon administration held up the delivary of F-16 jets until they withdrew from the Lebanon after their invasion. In 1991, President Bush blocked $10 billion in loan guarantees, demanding that Israel stopped building illegal settlements in the West Bank and that they participate in the Madrid Peace Conference along with Palestinian, Lebanese, Syrian and Jordanian officials.

However, since then - nothing.

The Oslo Accords were signed in Washington in 1993 and in Egypt in 1995. The expectation was that this would lead to a just peace in the long-running Israeli-Palestine conflict. However, the Palestinians accuse the US of being a 'dishonest broker' and refusing to use the tools at their disposal to force the Israel government to negotiate on equal terms.

Q. Given that the US has historically used both military and financial aid to Israel to compel it to negotiate, why isn't the US conditioning the current aid to Israel of $3.8 billion dollars annually and amounting to $38 billion dollars over a decade, to push Israel towards a just resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict

  • 3
    Then Hamas happened in Gaza etc. Can you really see US voters agreeing for aid to be withhold from Israel so that it negotiates with Hamas? Apr 16, 2021 at 9:41
  • @Fizz: Why not? Hamas happened in Gaza because of the failures of the US mediated peace process, which by the above, favoured Israel and why a number of observors have called the US, 'a dishonest broker'. Apr 16, 2021 at 10:23
  • 1
    Ah, well, you might as well expect them to give back the US to the native tribes and emigrate back somewhere. People aren't very inclined to blame themselves. Apr 16, 2021 at 10:25
  • 1
    More to the point, Hamas rejected negotiations (in which it would have been represented by Abbas) circa 2013 (when the US and Israel weren't ruled by the more rightist governments that followed in both countries) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Apr 16, 2021 at 10:52
  • 4
    Because it is not politically convenient for the US to force Israel to negotiate. Or at least not to really negotiate. The last "peace proposal" from the US was for the Palestinians to give Israel everything they wanted and Israel to give the Palestinians nothing they wanted. Apr 16, 2021 at 15:20

2 Answers 2


The US leadership does not see benefits in domestic political terms in pressuring Israel. This far outweighs any foreign policy considerations.

  • Once upon a time, many Palestinian groups allied with the Communists while the Israelis allied with the non-Communists. These sympathies and antipathies carry on even generations later. (And this completely ignores the Socialist policies of many Israelis.)
  • The Jewish minority in the US is much better integrated into mainstream society than the Muslim minority, and thus more effective in shaping public opinion.
  • A small but vocal Christian minority in the US has religious beliefs which require a Jewish state in the right time and place to create the rapture. They also require a Roman Empire, which causes some interesting logical footwork.
  • A large group of underinformed voters conflates all Arabs, Palestinians, Iranians, Muslims, and Islamists into one category. And blames them for 9/11.

Net result, a President fighting for Israel usually gains political capital, while one fighting against Israel has to expend political capital. That can happen, but don't hold your breath.

  • By and large they haven't conflated the Uighurs into that group, and they're Muslim.
    – Golden Cuy
    Apr 17, 2021 at 2:02
  • Maybe I took that bullet point too literally, rather than as hyperbole.
    – Golden Cuy
    Apr 17, 2021 at 2:20
  • 1
    @AndrewGrimm, what percentage of the US voters understands that Uighurs are Muslims, or that they do even exist? My estimate is that a significant group (not a majority, maybe, but sigificant) does not know or care about the details. So my point was not intended as hyperbole. If you ask those people if Israelis or Arabs are more friendly to the US, they'll say the Israelis. If you ask those people to define Arab, they'll conflate Iranians and Afghans into that group.
    – o.m.
    Apr 17, 2021 at 4:27

It would be political suicide for a POTUS to force Israel to negotiate for a number of reasons:

  1. Israel is perceived as a friend and valuable ally. This is partially due to the USSR's time when most, if not all of Israel's enemies were Soviet-aligned. Israel also has true, and very much deserved, sympathy from the US, where most non-Israeli Jews live, after having escaped the Holocaust.

  2. Influential Israeli-policy lobby forces in the US are dominated by hardliners, AIPAC, rather than moderates, such J Street. They shape the US perception of the Israeli-Palestinian question.

  3. The Palestinian cause in the US is tarnished by the association radical Islam claims to have with it.

  4. In good times, around Oslo, the Palestinian demands were already for a full right of return for refugees and their descendents. While that might be on the side of wishful international law, that would dilute Jewish votes in Israel to the point where they would not have a majority. It is hard to imagine an Israeli leader taking that risk, understandably so.

  5. In current times, no one in the Palestinian moderates seems to have the moral authority to push through a deal acceptable to even moderate Israelis. That might be a two state solution, with no full right of return.

  6. After years of Hamas, there is little desire in Israel to negotiate in good faith and Israel is at a sufficient military dominance to not see the need for hard choices and accommodation. Israel is, perhaps incorrectly, assuming that that dominance and the US's capacity to provide cover and veto at the UN Security Council will last forever.
    However, if one imagines a future where China has displaced the US as the world's primary superpower, that complacency may be misplaced.

  7. 3.8B$ sounds like a lot. And it is. But that represents only 1% of Israel's GDP and a lot of it is in the form of weapons. What use is that aid if in return you are compelled to act in what you perceive to be against your existential interests and against the very security that aid is supposed to promote?

The US could certainly be a lot more honest broker than it is. But it is limited in what it can do if neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are serious about a settlement.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .