Date of Award
Honors Thesis (Open Access)
Colby College. Government Dept.
In its attempts to serve as an ‘honest broker’ for peace, the US has at times used its unique aid relationship with Israel as a source of leverage, seeking to influence Israeli policy to fall into compliance with US goals in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. When successfully leveraged, US assistance has served as a powerful diplomatic asset which has given the US great sway over Israeli policy. Successfully translating aid into influence, and that influence effectively catalyzing change in Israeli policy, however, is a complex process that demands navigating the competing interests of a variety of actors both in the US and Israel.
These influence attempts utilizing aid have employed strategies of coercion, inducement, and combinations of both. Utilizing expert interviews and relying on case studies of US influence attempts across time, I investigate the US approach to aid-as-influence attempts on Israel within the context of the Israel-Palestine peace process and the variables which limit or enhance the efficacy of these attempts, as well as those which should be considered in the future. When US leverage has found a degree of success, it has generally arisen from a strong US president who can overcome the domestic political price incurred by pressuring Israel. Further, in Israel, the issue of settlements and the peace process is especially salient, and Israeli leaders must carefully weigh their coalitional constraints, the state of Israeli public opinion, and the political cost of resisting US influence attempts. I find that, over time, as US leaders have opted for influence strategies led by inducements rather than coercion, Israeli leaders have become increasingly comfortable resisting US pressure while the value of inducements has progressively diminished. Additionally, I find that US leaders face significant domestic limitations on utilizing coercive leverage due to the influence of the pro-Israel community, enhancing the Israeli ability to withstand pressure from the US.
US-Israel, Aid-as-Influence, Two-Level Games, Israel-Palestine, Influence Attempts, Leverage
Recommended CitationBrause, Joshua, "The Art of Influence: A Study of Leverage in US-Israel Relations" (2023). Honors Theses. Paper 1399.