Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2023

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Dr. Sarah Lockhart

Second Advisor

Kate Wilson, Ph.D.


This thesis examines American ambassador discourse at the United Nations Security Council from 2012 to 2019 regarding the ongoing issue of Israeli settlement expansion in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. While Israel’s settlement activity technically breaches international law as well as several UN resolutions, there is no binding aspect of the framework of international law that could compel Israel to cease its violations. This issue is further exacerbated by the fact that the United States often protects Israel from criticisms of its occupation regime in front of the international community. Previous research spanning several decades has revealed an evident bias in the US’ foreign policy towards Israel. It is thus not the intention of this thesis to explain why the US adopts this policy, but rather how it is manifested in one particular way: through rhetoric in UN Security Council meetings. Although extensive scholarship has been dedicated to the US’ foreign policy and involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there has not been much attention paid to the particular strategies behind American rhetoric and discourse when discussing the issue of the Occupation. In this study, I conducted a rhetorical analysis of eight Security Council meeting records between 2012 and 2019, paying particular attention to the speeches delivered by the respective American ambassadors and the manner in which they discuss the issue of Israeli settlement expansion. This project found a correlation between American ambassador rhetoric in the Security Council and the foreign policy of the presidential administrations under which they operated. While the rhetoric during the Obama era evidenced some tension in its attempt to demonstrate balance, that of the Trump era instead displayed un-nuanced support. This study contributes to the ongoing research dedicated to the US’ position vis-à-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and displays just one way in which the US reveals its often tilted foreign policy to the rest of the world.