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A triumph of pragmatism over principle: Margaret Thatcher and the Arab-Israel conflict

Bermant, A.; (2012) A triumph of pragmatism over principle: Margaret Thatcher and the Arab-Israel conflict. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Margaret Thatcher's concern over Soviet ambitions strongly influenced her Middle East policy. The present thesis will contend that this was a highly significant factor behind the cooperation between 10 Downing Street and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in the Middle East during the period in question. Notwithstanding her instinctive understanding for the State of Israel, Thatcher increasingly perceived Israeli policies as a liability rather than an asset for Western interests. There was unease that these policies were increasing instability in the Middle East, and therefore undermining the security of Britain's Arab allies. Thatcher feared that the Soviets and other radical forces would exploit regional turmoil in order to expand their influence in the Middle East. Therefore, Thatcher agreed with the FCO on the urgent need to resolve the Arab-Israel conflict as a means of defusing regional tensions. As Thatcher acquired greater authority in the realm of international affairs, there was a growing convergence with the traditional position of the FCO on the Palestinian question. Thus, Thatcher used her stronger control over foreign policy to enhance the objectives of the FCO rather than to counter them, in the Middle East arena. Furthermore, during the second term of the Thatcher Government, it was the FCO rather than 10 Downing Street which took an initiative to advance a political dialogue with the State of Israel, resulting in a significant improvement in relations between Britain and Israel. Within Israeli Government circles and the Anglo-Jewish community, the FCO was generally viewed as the source of the apparently hostile British attitude towards Israel, while Number Ten was considered the more sympathetic institution. However, it is argued here that this is a simplistic view of the respective roles played by the FCO and 10 Downing Street in Middle East policy.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:A triumph of pragmatism over principle: Margaret Thatcher and the Arab-Israel conflict
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Hebrew and Jewish Studies

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