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Israel Table of Contents



Autonomy was another cornerstone of Israeli strategic doctrine, but autonomy did not mean independence. The Israeli military acknowledged a heavy dependence on the United States as a supplier of military matériel and as a deterrent to possible Soviet intervention on the side of the Arabs during times of war. Precisely because of this dependence, however, Israel felt it necessary to take autonomous action--often in defiance of strong United States objections. In numerous actions, such as the 1973 encirclement of the Egyptian Third Army and the 1982 siege of West Beirut, Israel signaled to Washington that its national interests were not always congruent with those of the United States. More important, Israel proved to its Arab adversaries that despite any political pressure they exerted on Washington, the United States could not extract concessions from Israel. Another dimension of autonomy was that Israel would not make a settlement with the Arabs by placing itself in an indefensible position in return for security guarantees from the United States. In general, foreign policy was subservient to defense policy, and Israeli policy makers felt that Israel should never sacrifice its strategic strength for improved foreign relations with the United States, the Arab states, or other countries, even if such improved relations made war less likely. As Dayan said, "Israel has no foreign policy--only a defense policy."

Data as of December 1988