Israel’s Clandestine Diplomacies

Edited by
May 2013 9781849042338 320pp


For over sixty years the state of Israel has proved adept at practising clandestine diplomacy — about which little is known, as one might expect. These hitherto undisclosed episodes in Israel’s diplomatic history are revealed for the first time by the contributors to this volume, who explore how relations based upon patronage and personal friendships, as well as ties born from kinship and realpolitik both informed the creation of the state and later defined Israel’s relations with a host of actors, both state and non-state. The authors focus on the extent to which Israel’s clandestine diplomacies have indeed been regarded as purely functional and subordinate to a realist quest for security amid the perceived hostility of a predominantly Muslim-Arab world, or have in fact proved to be manifestations of a wider acceptance — political, social and cultural — of a Jewish sovereign state as an intrinsic part of the Middle East. They also discuss whether clandestine diplomacy has been more effective in securing Israeli objectives than reliance upon more formal diplomatic ties constrained by international legal obligations and how this often complex and at times contradictory matrix of clandestine relationships continues to influence perceptions of Israel’s foreign policy.

Table of contents



Endnote Acronyms

Introduction: Themes and Issues — Clive Jones

1. Israeli Foreign Policy in Historical Perspective: State, Ethno-nationalism, Globalisation — Amnon Aran

2. Friends Indeed or Accomplices in Need? The Jewish Agency, Emir Abdullah and the Shaykhs of Transjordan, 1922-3 — Yoav Alon

3. Influence Without Power? Britain, the Jewish Agency and Intelligence Collaboration, 1939-45 — Clive Jones

4. The Power of the Weak: Israel’s Secret Oil Diplomacy, 1948-57 — Uri Bialer

5. Back-Door Diplomacy: The Mistress Syndrome in Israel’s Relations with Turkey, 1957-60 — Noa Schonmann

6. Confronting Cairo: Israeli Perceptions of Nasser’s Egypt, 1960-6 — Yigal Sheffy

7. The Limits of Public Diplomacy: Abba Eban and the June 1967 War — Asaf Siniver

8. Israel in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Case of Uganda, 1962-72 — Zach Levey

9. Israel’s Clandestine Diplomacy with Sudan: Two Rounds of Extraordinary Collaboration — Yehudit Ronen

10. Shadowy Interests:  West German-Israeli Intelligence and Military Cooperation, 1957-82 — Shlomo Shpiro

11. Public Tensions, Private Ties: Ireland, Israel and the Politics of Mutual Misunderstanding — Rory Miller

12. Israeli Track II Diplomacy: The Beilin-Abu Mazen Understandings — Jacob Eriksson

13. The Deal that Never Was: Israel’s Clandestine Negotiations with Syria, 1991-2000 — Ahron Bregman

Conclusion — Tore T. Petersen




‘In Israel’s Clandestine Diplomacies an impressive set of authors shed light on hitherto dark parts of Israel’s foreign policy over the years and offer new insights on more well-known periods. The result is a balanced volume that provides a fresh look at several vital chapters in Israel’s history and conveys the rewards and risks of secret diplomacy in general.’ — Daniel Byman, Professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and author of A High Price: The Triumphs and Failures of Israeli Counterterrorism

‘Jones and Petersen have assembled an accomplished volume of extraordinary research by leading experts, who raise the curtain on previously unknown chapters in Israel’s diplomatic activities. The essays in this volume provide insightful and timely analyses of this unacknowledged, yet vital, component of Israeli foreign policy.’ — Uzi Rabi, Director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Tel Aviv University

‘This timely book presents a sweeping international history of twentieth century Israeli covert diplomacy in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Superbly edited, leading scholars bring a range of disciplinary perspectives, grounded in deep contextual analysis of archives and in-depth interviews to provide a panoramic view of the breaches and continuities in Israel’s clandestine international affairs. For students, scholars and Middle East watchers, this is essential reading.’ — Michael Kerr, Professor of Conflict Studies and Director of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies, King’s College London


Clive Jones is Professor of Regional Security at Durham University, a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and editor of, inter alia, Israel’s Clandestine Diplomacies, also published by Hurst.

Tore T. Petersen is Professor of International and Diplomatic History at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim.

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