Skip to main content

Choppy times in U.S.-Israeli relations

4 min

A rift between President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Gaza red lines has set up a potential showdown between the two leaders, raising questions about whether the U.S. might restrict military aid if Israel goes ahead with a ground offensive in the south of the enclave.

U.S. President Ronald Reagan (2nd R) and his advisers meet with an Israeli delegation including Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Begin (3rd L) and Israeli Defence Minister Ariel Sharon (L) in Washington in this September 9, 1981 file handout picture released by the Government Press Office. Reuters/Ya'acov Sa'ar/GPO

A rift between President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Gaza red lines has set up a potential showdown between the two leaders, raising questions about whether the U.S. might restrict military aid if Israel goes ahead with a ground offensive in the south of the enclave.

The United States has been a staunch ally of Israel since President Harry Truman became the first world leader to recognize the newly established state in 1948.

But strains have emerged in the normally solid ties over the decades. Here are milestones:

1948

President Harry Truman becomes the first world leader to recognize the newly-established Israel.

1956

Furious at Israel's capture of the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip from Egypt in a campaign with France and Britain, the administration of President Dwight Eisenhower insists on unconditional Israeli withdrawal and threatens to suspend vital U.S. financial aid to Israel unless it withdraws.

1967

The U.S. stands behind Israel in a war with surrounding Arab states. But relations are jolted by Israel's attack in international waters on the Liberty, a U.S. spy ship. Thirty-four American seamen are killed and 174 wounded.

1973

President Richard Nixon rushes to Israel's aid with an airlift of military hardware after Egypt and Syria, which lost territory in the 1967 conflict, launch the 1973 war.

1975

The U.S. administration of President Gerald Ford threatens to reappraise U.S. ties with Israel unless it signs a "disengagement" treaty with Egypt to pull back from the Sinai peninsula, captured in 1967.

1979

President Jimmy Carter hosts signing of peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, concluded in talks at Camp David.

1981

The U.S. condemns Israel's bombing of Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor.

1982

In a telephone call to Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, President Ronald Reagan expresses what a spokesman calls "outrage" over Israeli bombing raids in Beirut during a war in Lebanon, and pressures him into a ceasefire.

1990

Secretary of State James Baker says U.S. growing weary of Israeli foot-dragging over peace negotiations with the Palestinians and recites White House telephone number, urging both sides "to call us when you are serious about peace".

1991

President George Bush Sr. pressures Israel to stay out of first Gulf War, concerned that an Israeli attack on Iraq would cause a U.S.-led coalition to disintegrate.

Washington withholds $10 billion in loan guarantees sought by Israel to absorb the immigration of Soviet Jews, piling pressure on Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to attend the Madrid peace conference. Bush cites the best interests of the peace process in justifying the postponement, and says he will not grant the guarantees unless Israel freezes settlement building.

1992

Bush approves Israel's loan guarantees request after Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin offers a limited curtailment of settlement building.

1993

President Bill Clinton hosts a handshake between Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at the signing of a Declaration of Principles on interim Palestinian self-government.

1998

Clinton hosts summit between Arafat and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Wye River, Maryland. Netanyahu agrees to hand over more occupied land to Palestinian control.

2003

President George W. Bush announces "road map" peace plan, three years after start of Palestinian uprising, setting an outline for an end to violence and return to statehood talks.

2004

Bush tells Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "existing major Israeli population centers" -- an indirect reference to Jewish settlement enclaves in the West Bank -- make it "unrealistic" to expect Israel to return to armistice lines drawn in 1949.

2009

Bush tells Israel's parliament the unbreakable bond between Israel and the U.S. runs deeper than any treaty and is grounded in the shared link to the Bible.

2010

The administration of President Barack Obama is furious with Israel for announcing the building of more settler homes around Jerusalem during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls the move "insulting".

2011

Netanyahu lectures Obama in the White House Oval Office days after Obama stated publicly that "the borders between Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines".

2015 

Obama says the international community does not believe that Israel is serious about a two-state solution.

2016

Obama, in the final weeks of his presidency, allowed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement building to be adopted by withholding the U.S. veto. It breaks with a history of U.S. shielding Israel at the U.N.

2017

Reversing decades of U.S. policy, President Donald Trump recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The new U.S. embassy opens in 2018.

2019

The Trump administration recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, territory captured from Syria in the 1967 war. The U.S. is the only country to do this.

2023

Oct. 7 - U.S. President Joe Biden offers Israel "all appropriate means of support" after the Palestinian militant group Hamas launches its Oct. 7 attack on Israel, and warns "any party hostile to Israel" not to seek advantage.

Dec. 12 - Biden warns Israel it was losing international support because of its "indiscriminate" bombing of civilians in its war against Hamas militants.

2024

Feb. 8 - Biden says he seeks a "sustained pause in the fighting".

Feb. 11 - Biden tells Netanyahu Israel should not launch a military operation in Rafah without a credible plan to ensure the safety of the roughly 1 million people sheltering there.

Feb. 27 - Netanyahu says he has consistently resisted pressure to end the war prematurely and this stand has popular U.S. support.

March 9 - Biden says Israel’s threatened invasion of Rafah would be his “red line” for Netanyahu but then backtracks, saying there is no red line and "I’m never going to leave Israel." Biden says his message to Netanyahu about civilian casualties is that he is "hurting Israel more than helping" by acting in a way "contrary to what Israel stands for."

March 12 - Netanyahu says that Israel would press forward with its military campaign into Rafah.

Compiled by Tom Perry

Tags

Related

Lebanon

U.S. special envoy Amos Hochstein arrives in Beirut

U.S. Special Envoy Amos Hochstein arrived in Beirut on Tuesday morning as part of an effort to defuse the escalating situation in southern Lebanon, where Hezbollah and Israel have been exchanging fire daily since the onset of the Gaza war.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Mena banner 4

To make this website run properly and to improve your experience, we use cookies. For more detailed information, please check our Cookie Policy.

  • Necessary cookies enable core functionality. The website cannot function properly without these cookies, and can only be disabled by changing your browser preferences.