Last updated on: 5/15/2008 | Author:

What Effect Did the Cold War Have on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)


This site was archived on Aug. 3, 2021. The two-state solution is no longer the most popular solution among the jurisdictions involved. A reconsideration of the topic is possible in the future.

Ian J. Bickerton, PhD, Associate Professor of History at the University of New South Wales, and Carla L. Klausner, PhD, Professor of the Modern Middle East at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, in their 2002 edition of A Concise History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict wrote:

“The United States hoped to use the United Nations as a tool to contain Communist influence and Soviet expansion. As it happened, there was no real issue between the United States and the Soviet Union over partition and the founding of a Jewish state in Palestine. The soviets welcomed the idea of a Jewish state as a way of extending their influence into the Middle East; they believed that the predominantly Socialist ideology of the Israeli leaders would gain them an ally in the region…

Israel sought to remain neutral in the developing Cold War. However, Israel’s reliance on American economic aid, both private and governmental, and its denunciation of North Korea at the time of the Korean War, helped sour its relationship with the Soviet Union…

After loosening their ties with socialist Israel in the 1950s and unequivocally adopting the Arab Palestinian causes, the Soviets imitated the West in extending economic and military aid to their allies in the region. Under Nikita Khrushchev, between 1955 and 1959, the Soviets established a diplomatic presence in the area, made extensive arms deals, trained local armies, offered economic and technical assistance, and energetically supported anti-western regimes.”


Bernard Lewis, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Near East Studies at Princeton University, in his 1995 book titled The Middle East wrote:

“In 1948-1949, both the United States and the Soviet Union gave diplomatic support to the new state of Israel. Stalin in those days still regarded Britain, not the USA, as his principal world adversary, and saw in the new state of Israel the best chance of undermining the British position in the Middle East. In pursuit of this objective, he allowed Czechoslovakia, then a Soviet satellite state, to provide the weapons which enabled Israel to survive its first war. Some military help also arrived from private sources in the United States, despite a generally maintained official embargo on weapons to all the contending parties…

An important element in Soviet policy from the mid-fifties, and more strongly in the sixties and seventies, was their support for the Arab case against Israel — diplomatically, at the United Nations and other international fora; militarily, by the provision of sophisticated weaponry and technical and logistical support for the Arab armies. This in turn lead the United States to enter into a new and closer strategic relationship with Israel, of which it became the principal source of diplomatic, strategic, and in time also financial, support. These developments made the Arab-Israel conflict a major issue of the Cold War.”


Albert Hourani, the late Oxford Historian, in his 1991 book titled A History of the Arab Peoples wrote:

“The United States and the Soviet Union had greater economic resources and manpower than any other states, and in the course of the war [WWII] had established a presence in many parts of the world. Henceforth they would be in a position to claim that their interests should be taken into account everywhere, and the economic dependence of Europe upon American aid gave the United States a powerful means of pressure upon its European allies…

The United States, which now, in the period of the Cold War and economic expansion, believed that its interests in the Middle East could be protected only through close relations with local governments prepared to link their policy with that of the western alliance. Many [Arab] politicians and political groups argued, however, that the only guarantee of independence in the post colonial world would lie in maintaining neutrality between the two armed camps [Soviet Union & United States]. Since the western camp was linked with memories of imperial rule [Britain & France], and with the problems of Palestine and Algeria which still festered, and since it was from this side that the main pressure to make defense agreements came, the desire for neutrality carried with it a tendency to incline more in the direction of the other camp [the Soviets]… For the United States government in the era of the Cold War, refusal to join a western defense alliance in the middle East was in effect to join the eastern bloc.”