On February 15, 2017, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then newly inaugurated U.S. President Donald Trump held their first official meeting. At the press conference that preceded that meeting, they discussed Trump's promise to strike "a bigger and better deal than people in this room even understand." Over the course of the press conference, Trump and Netanyahu would go on to unpack that cryptic remark in a way that eventually revealed the strategy that would make sense of the recent unusual events.
The single most clarifying lens through which to view Israel's foreign policy history is the lens of the doctrine of the periphery. The doctrine of the periphery can be traced back to two leaders of Mossad: Reuven Shiloah and Isser Harel. But its central premise, that political compromise with the Arabs is impossible, may be traced back even further to Vladimir Jabotinsky. According to this perspective, Israelis look out from a tiny land to find themselves surrounded by Arab nations who are not only hostile to them but whose differences with Israel are so essential that compromise and friendship are impossible.