The U.S. position has fluctuated over time. In the Reagan years, the United States said the settlements were "not illegal." The Clinton and George H.W. Bush administrations avoided the legal arguments but criticized the settlements frequently. President George W. Bush called the larger settlement blocs "new realities on the ground" that would have to be reflected in peace negotiations.
A military attack on Iran, especially one by Israel, would rally all Iranians to the government. It would completely stifle the voices of dissent in the name of national security, and provide precisely the glue the Ayatollah needs to keep his country together under his control.
Israel has discovered substantial natural gas deposits off its shores in the last four years. While these gas finds are not significant in terms of global gas supply (they constitute less than two percent of the world's proven gas reserves), they do appear large enough not only to meet Israel's needs, but to enable Israel to export significant quantities.
The conventional wisdom has it that second-term presidents, freed from the need to win another election, tend to be bolder in their initiatives. While that logic may apply to President Obama's domestic policy, it is unlikely to extend abroad.
Today, even though Israel and Turkey have common interests and even if they fully mend their ties, it is likely too politically sensitive—particularly in Ankara—for them to cooperate openly on Syria and Iran.
Iran's nuclear ambitions are likely driven by multiple factors, from security concerns to domestic polices. However, political competition within Iran, rather than Israel's nuclear capabilities, plays a more significant role in driving Iran's nuclear ambition.
The United States tried to convince Israel to join the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) when the treaty was first introduced and before it was widely believed that Israel had nuclear weapons. The NPT's objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology and further the goal of universal disarmament.
Conflict between Israelis and Palestinians began even before the State of Israel was established in 1948, and the two populations have opposing claims to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea that have defeated numerous U.S. efforts to broker peace. Right now there is little hope of a comprehensive solution—one that resolves all the issues and involves not only Israel and the PLO but the Arab states as well. Today, the most that Israel can realistically offer is less than the least the Palestinians can realistically accept. For now, the best way forward is to continue talks, but to emphasize practical steps forward on the ground that move Palestinians toward construction of a state.
Listen to CFR experts Robert Danin and Ray Takeyh discuss Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's March 3, 2015 speech before a joint session of U.S. Congress. Experts discuss U.S.-Israel relations, Prime Minister Netanyahu's strategic objectives, and ongoing talks over Iran's nuclear program.
CFR Senior Fellow Elliott Abrams leads a conversation on U.S. policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, as part of CFR's Religion and Foreign Policy Conference Call series.
Experts discuss Israel's domestic achievements and challenges, and offer recommendations for moving forward.
CFR Senior Fellow Robert M. Danin leads a conversation on ending the U.S. policy of isolating Gaza, as part of CFR's Religion and Foreign Policy Conference Call series.
Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Robert M. Danin, a former senior State Department and National Security Council official with more than twenty years of Middle East experience, discussed progress during peace talks between Israel and Palestine on a media conference call.
Robert M. Danin, CFR's Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies, leads a conversation on the significance of Israel's new coalition government and President Obama's recent trip to the region, as part of CFR's Religion and Foreign Policy Conference Call series.
Reza Aslan, CFR's adjunct senior fellow, leads a conversation on Iran and its role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Representative Kay Granger (R-TX) discusses the changing environment in the Middle East, focusing on Israel's future relations with Egypt and its other neighbors.