Spanish–Israeli relations expanded across numerous fields throughout the 1960s despite the absence of formal diplomatic ties. For all practical purposes, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had a legation in Madrid during the second half of the 1960s, including at least 3 semi-official representatives operating with the full knowledge of Madrid. Clandestinely, a Mossad station worked in liaison with the local intelligence services. Absence of a full-fledged Israeli embassy did not prevent advancing bilateral ties, normalising Jewish affairs in Spain, or preventing both Powers from engaging in official and public occasions or behind the scenes. Systemic pressure, most evident in Madrid’s ascension to GATT, and the need to abide with its rules by liberalising trade with Israel did much to advance Spanish–Israeli bilateral ties in the 1960s. A strong systemic external force also brought change in their relations in the 1980s. The diplomatic breakthrough of January 1986 and establishment of full formal diplomatic relations between the Powers was largely the inevitable result of Spain’s entry into the European Economic Community.
Based on oral history accounts of surviving members of Israel’s first International Squadron and organisers of the military airlift to Yemen in 1964, this analysis examines the origins of the squadron, its mission to Yemen, and its impact on Israeli foreign policy in Africa. The founding of the International Squadron in 1963 incorporated the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser into the Israeli air force and gave the military and Foreign Ministry the country’s first long-distance transport capability. The initial successful military airlift to Yemen in May 1964 opened the possibility for additional clandestine military aid missions to sub-Saharan Africa and Kurdistan and marked the beginning of an era of Israeli “weapons diplomacy.” The Squadron’s incorporation of more advanced transport planes during the 1970s presented the Foreign Ministry with the capability of reaching Latin America and Asia, an essential factor in Israel’s expanding global arms market and later humanitarian missions.
Jewish individuals and organisations played a cardinal role in making and promoting the 1948 Genocide Convention. The early attitude of the Jewish state—established a few months before the Convention’s conclusion—has not hitherto been explored. This analysis reconstructs Israel’s involvement in the 1951 advisory proceedings at the International Court of Justice concerning the Convention. Based on Ministry of Foreign Affairs archives and Court records, it demonstrates that contrary to what scholarship on subsequent episodes assumes or implies, Israel had no particular attachment to, nor was it vested in, the Convention. Rather, its attitude ranged from indifference and disinterest to scepticism and hostility. It allowed Israeli diplomats to utilise the Convention as a means to affect other neither urgent nor imperative foreign policy ends.