Last updated on: 6/25/2008 | Author:

What Is the Relationship between the United States and the Palestinian Territories?

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.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID), in a Nov. 7, 2006 posting to its West Bank/Gaza website, in the section “ABOUT US”, wrote:

“The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funds programs that help people living in the West Bank and Gaza lead healthier and more productive lives.

Since 1993, Palestinians have received more than $1.7 billion in U.S. economic assistance via USAID projects – more than from any other donor country.

USAID’s new $320 million program for FY 06 is re-focused on the foundations of economic and political stability. In April 2006, humanitarian assistance was increased 57% to meet emergency requirements for medicine and food. In addition, the program will invest in higher quality education and expanded judicial reform. Strong team work and capable partners enable USAID to deliver assistance quickly and cost-effectively.

USAID operates in the following program areas:

Nov. 7, 2006 - USAID West Bank &Gaza

The United States Congressional Research Service (CRS), in a Oct. 10, 2003 Issue Brief for Congress titled “Palestinians and Middle East Peace: Issues for the United States,” provided the following:

“The United States, until recently, treated the Palestinians as one of the problems to be solved in ending the Arab-Israeli dispute rather than as participants in the peace process. From 1948 until the 1967 war, the United States, like many other countries, considered the Palestinian people in the context of the refugee problem and not as an independent national movement. Beginning with a series of terrorist incidents starting in 1968, most added ‘terrorist’ to the ‘refugee’ image of Palestinians.

President Carter shifted the terrorist-refugee perception on March 16, 1977, when he said the Palestinians deserved a homeland, and on January 4, 1978, when he said that the Palestinians had legitimate rights and should participate in any deliberations about their future. The Camp David agreements of September 1978 mentioned ‘the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.’

Early in the Reagan Administration, officials returned to referring to Palestinians as ‘refugees’ and ‘terrorists’ and did not mention Palestinian rights or self-determination. But in his September 1, 1982 Middle East address, President Reagan said that the Palestinian problem was more than refugees.

The United States changed its policy toward the PLO in 1988. In 1975, one year after the Arab League [1974 Rabat Summit] stated that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was the sole representative of the Palestinian people, Secretary of State [under President Ford] Henry Kissinger informed Israel that the United States would not recognize or negotiate with the PLO unless and until the PLO recognized Israel and accepted U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338. Congress codified the pledge into law (Section 535, P.L. 98-473, October 12, 1984), and added that the PLO also must renounce terrorism. PLO chairman Yasir Arafat told the U.N. General Assembly meeting in Geneva (because the United States would not grant Arafat a visa to attend the U.N. session in New York) that the PLO recognized Israel, accepted U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338, and renounced terrorism. Secretary of State George Shultz [under President Reagan] stated on December 14, 1988, that the PLO had met the conditions stipulated by the United States, and that the United States would open a dialogue with the PLO in Tunis, Tunisia, on December 16, 1988. It was not made public why the Reagan Administration, considered by most to be pro-Israeli, chose to open the dialogue with the PLO at that time. Some speculated that President-elect George Bush asked President Reagan for the gesture as part of a Bush plan to address the Arab-Israeli issue.

The United States maintained the dialogue with the PLO in Tunis until June 20, 1990, when President Bush [Senior] ended the talks because the PLO did not denounce an attempted terrorist attack near Tel Aviv on May 30, 1990. President Bush announced on March 6, 1991 (in the wake of the Gulf war), that he would pursue Arab-Israeli peace negotiations; he dispatched Secretary of State [James] Baker to the Middle East where he met with Palestinian leaders from the occupied territories. Baker’s 8 trips to the region and his contacts with the Palestinians, Jordanians, Israelis, Syrians, Egyptians, and others lead to peace talks in Madrid on October 30, 1991. But at Madrid and the subsequent meetings, the United States (and Israel) treated the Palestinians as part of the Jordanian delegation, not as a separate entity.

On September 10, 1993, following the Israeli-PLO mutual recognition, President Clinton announced that the United States would resume the dialogue with the PLO. PLO leader Arafat, representing the national aspirations of the Palestinian people, shared the spotlight with Israeli Prime Minister Rabin and President Clinton at the signing of the Declaration of Principles on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993. U.S. official attitudes toward the Palestinians had evolved from seeing them only as refugees to according them a form of recognition that approached, but did not reach, nationhood. Following a pledge made at the Wye River conference, President Clinton visited Gaza to attend the December 14, 1998 meeting of the PLO National Council, at which the Council voted by show of hands to reaffirm that the PLO covenant had been amended to remove anti-Israeli references.

The George W. Bush White House refuses to meet with Palestinian President Yasir Arafat because, in the Administration’s view, Arafat is not doing enough to stop terrorism. The United States, the United Nations, the European Community, and Russia presented the ‘road map’ for the Quartet peace plan on April 30 [2003], the day Mahmud Abbas was sworn in as Prime Minister. The Abbas cabinet won a vote of confidence on April 29, 2003. Abbas met with Israeli Prime Minister Sharon on May 30, met with President Bush and several Arab leaders at Sharm al-Shaykh on June 3 [2003], and met again with Prime Minister Sharon and President Bush at Aqaba on June 4 [2003].

Prime Minister Abbas met with President Bush at the White House on July 25, 2003. In comments to the press after the meeting, Abbas said he raised the issues of the Israeli wall under construction in the West Bank, the need for an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian cities, the expected Israeli release of Palestinian prisoners, and other issues, and reaffirmed the Palestinian pledge to curtail terrorist attacks against Israel. President Bush said the wall was a ‘problem’ and that he expected both sides to meet their obligations for peace, reaffirmed the United States support for a two-state solution, and reminded the Palestinians of their promise to end terror attacks against Israel. [Prime Minister Abbas resigned on September 11, 2003 and was replaced by Ahmad Qurai].”

Oct. 10, 2003 - Palestinians and Middle East Peace: Issues for the United States