Israel–United States relations

Israel–United States relations

Israel–United States relations have evolved from an initial United States policy of sympathy and support for the creation of a Jewish homeland in 1947 to an unusual partnership that links a small but militarily powerful Israel with the United States, with the U.S. superpower trying to balance competing interests in the Middle East. To the United States, Israel is a major non-NATO ally and its closest ally in the Greater Middle East.

Recognition and early relationship

On May 14, 1948, the United States, under President Truman, became the first country to extend de facto recognition to the State of Israel. Past American presidents, encouraged by active support from civic groups, labor unions, political parties, and members of the American and world Jewish communities, supported the concept, alluded to in Britain's 1917 Balfour Declaration, of a Jewish homeland. One important issue that damaged Palestinian interests in the US and British governments were agreements between Germany and the Palestinian religious leaders. In exchange for their support, Germany would free the Palestinians from British control and grant them a sovereign Palestine.

The decision was still contentious, however, with significant disagreement between Truman and the State Department about how to handle the situation. Truman was a supporter of the Zionist movement, while Secretary of State George Marshall feared U.S. backing of a Jewish state would harm relations with the Muslim world, limit access to Middle Eastern oil, and destabilize the region. On May 12, 1948, in the Oval Office, Marshall told Truman he would vote against him in the next election if the U.S. recognized Israel. [ 1] In the end, Truman, recognized the state of Israel 11 minutes after it declared itself a nation. De jure recognition came on January 31, 1949.

Under vastly different geopolitical circumstances, U.S. policy was geared toward supporting the development of oil-producing countries, maintaining a neutral stance in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and preventing Soviet influence from gaining a foothold in Iran and Turkey. U.S. policymakers used foreign aid in the 1950s and 1960s to support these objectives.

Israel now receives on average about 3 billion in direct foreign assistance each year, an amount that is roughly one-sixth of Americas direct foreign assistance budget. As of 2005, direct U.S. economic and military assistance to Israel amounted to nearly 154 billion, a policy that has served to cause a widening rift between the Arab population and the United States. U.S. aid to Israel was far less in the 1950s and 1960s than in later years. Although the United States provided moderate amounts of economic aid (mostly loans) to Israel, at the time, Israel's main patron was France, which supported Israel by providing it with advanced military equipment and technology. This support was to counter the perceived threat from Egypt under President Gamal Abdel Nasser regarding the Suez Canal.

During the 1956 Suez Crisis, the U.S., fearing a Soviet intervention on behalf of Egypt, forced a cease-fire on Britain, France, and Israel. The Suez Crisis was the last occasion on which the United States placed strong forceful public pressure on Israel. Afterwards, Nasser expressed a desire to establish closer relations with the United States. Eager to increase its influence in the region, and prevent Nasser from going over to the Soviet Bloc, U.S. policy was not to become too closely allied with Israel. In the early 1960s, the U.S. would begin to sell advanced weapons to Israel (Hawk antiaircraft missiles), but also to Egypt and Jordan.

Foreign policy of U.S. government

Johnson Administration (1963–1969)

During Lyndon Johnson's presidency , U.S. policy would shift to a whole-hearted, but not unquestioning, support for Israel. Before the Six-Day War of 1967, the U.S. took some care to avoid giving the appearance of any active military alliance.

Leading up to the war, while the Administration was sympathetic to Israel's need to defend itself against terrorist attack, the U.S. worried that Israel's response was disproportionate and potentially destabilizing. Israel's raid into Jordan after the Samu Incident was also troubling to the U.S. because Jordan was also an ally, having received over $500 million in aid.

The primary concern of the Johnson Administration was that should war break out in the region, the United States and Soviet Union would be drawn into it. Intense diplomatic negotiations with the nations in the region and the Soviets, including the first use of the Hotline, failed to prevent war. When Israel launched pre-emptive strikes against the Egyptian Air force, Secretary of State Dean Rusk was bitterly disappointed as he felt a diplomatic solution could have been possible.

During the war, Israeli warplanes and warships attacked a US Navy intelligence ship, USS "Liberty", in international waters killing 34 and wounding at least 173. The incident was quickly excused as a mistake by Israel, a statement backed by multiple American investigations.

Much to its pleasure, especially for the time, the United States saw a democracy defeat the combined forces of multiple Soviet-backed countries. Following the war, the perception in Washington was that many Arab states (notably Egypt) had permanently drifted toward the Soviets. In 1968, with strong support from Congress, Johnson approved the sale of Phantom fighters to Israel, establishing the precedent for U.S. support for Israel's qualitative military edge over its neighbors. The U.S., however, would continue to supply arms to Israel's neighbors, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, to counter Soviet arms sales in the region.

Nixon Administration (1969–1974)

The Rogers Plan of 1970

Secretary of State William P. Rogers proposed the Rogers Plan, which called for a 90 day cease-fire and of a military standstill zone on each side of the Suez Canal, and an effort to reach agreement in the framework of UN Resolution 242. [“The Ceasefire/Standstill Proposal” 19 June 1970,!OpenDocument last visited 2007/6/11 ] The Egyptians accepted the Rogers Plan even before Anwar Sadat became president. The Rogers peace plan finally failed due to lack of support from Israel. No breakthrough occurred even after President Sadat in 1972 surprised everyone by suddenly expelling Soviet advisers from Egypt and again signaled to Washington his willingness to negotiate. [ “The Camp David Accords: A Case of International Bargaining” Shibley Telhami, Columbia International Affaris Online,, last visited 2007/6/11 ]

Despite fears of an attack from Egypt and Syria, Prime Minister Golda Meir made the controversial decision not to launch a pre-emptive strike. Meir, among other concerns, feared alienating the United States, which Israel was entirely dependent upon to resupply its military, if Israel was seen as starting the war. Syria and Egypt did attack, starting the Yom Kippur War.In retrospect, the decision not to strike was probably a sound one. Had Israel struck first, according to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, they would not have received "so much as a nail". The U.S. carried out a strategic airlift operation to deliver weapons and supplies to Israel in what is sometimes called "the airlift that saved Israel."

Again, the U.S. and Soviets feared that they would be drawn into a Middle East conflict. After the Soviets threatened intervention on the behalf of Egypt, the U.S. increased the Defense Condition (DEFCON) from four to three, the highest peacetime level. The Soviets backed down, and Egypt withdrew its request for support.

After Egypt's Third Army was trapped across the Suez canal, Kissinger realized the situation presented the United States with a tremendous opportunity—Egypt was totally dependent on the U.S. to prevent Israel from destroying the army, which now had no access to food or water. The position could be parlayed later into allowing the United States to mediate the dispute, and push Egypt out of Soviet influences. As a result, the United States exerted tremendous pressure on the Israelis to refrain from destroying the trapped army. In a phone call with Israeli ambassador Simcha Dinitz, Kissinger told the ambassador that the destruction of the Egyptian Third Army "is an option that does not exist."

After the war, Kissinger pressured the Israelis to cede land to the Arabs, contributing to the first phases of a lasting Israeli-Egyptian peace. American support of Israel during the war contributed to the 1973 OPEC embargo against the United States, which was lifted in March 1974.

Carter administration (1977–1981)

The Jimmy Carter years were characterized by very active U.S. involvement in the Middle East peace process, and, as a consequence, led to some friction in U.S.-Israeli bilateral relations. The Carter-initiated Camp David process was viewed by some in Israel as creating U.S. pressures on Israel to withdraw from captured territories and to take risks for the sake of peace with Egypt. President Carter's support for a Palestinian homeland and for Palestinian political rights created additional tensions with Israel. Some argue that the final text of the Camp David accords represented Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin's success in limiting Israeli requirements to deal with the Palestinians.Fact|date=February 2007

Reagan administration (1981–1989)

Israeli supporters expressed concerns early in the first Reagan term about potential difficulties in U.S.-Israeli relations, in part because several Presidential appointees had ties or past business associations with key Arab countries (Secretaries Weinberger and Shultz, for example, were officers in the Bechtel Corporation, which has strong links to the Arab world, see Arab lobby in the United States.) But President Reagan's personal support for Israel and the compatibility between Israeli and Reagan perspectives on terrorism, security cooperation, and the Soviet threat, led to dramatic improvements in bilateral relations.

In 1981, Weinberger and Israeli Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon signed Strategic Cooperation Agreement, establishing a framework for continued consultation and cooperation to enhance the national security of both countries. In November 1983, the two sides formed a Joint Political Military Group, which meets twice a year, to implement most provisions of that agreement. Joint air and sea military exercises began in June 1984, and the United States has constructed facilities to stockpile military equipment in Israel. Although the Lebanon war of 1982 exposed some serious differences between Israeli and U.S. policies, such as Israel's use of U.S.-provided military equipment in the attack on Lebanon and Israel's rejection of the Reagan peace plan of September 1, 1982, it did not alter the Administration's favoritism for Israel and the emphasis it placed on Israel's importance to the United States.

U.S.-Israeli ties strengthened during the second Reagan term. Israel was granted "major non-NATO ally" status in 1987 that gave it access to expanded weapons systems and opportunities to bid on U.S. defense contracts. The United States maintained grant aid to Israel at $3 billion annually and implemented a free trade agreement in 1985. Since then all customs duties between the two trading partners have been eliminated.

In 1985 US support the Israeli economic stabilization plan by grant of $1.5 billion for two years and advice of economic exports.

In November 1985, Jonathan Pollard, a civilian U.S. naval intelligence employee, and his wife were charged with selling classified documents to Israel. Four Israeli officials also were indicted. The Israeli government claimed that it was a rogue operation. Pollard was sentenced to life in prison and his wife to two consecutive five-year terms. Israelis complain that Pollard received an excessively harsh sentence, and some Israelis have made a cause of his plight. Pollard was granted Israeli citizenship in 1996, and Israeli officials periodically raise the Pollard case with U.S. counterparts, although there is not a formal request for clemency pending.

The second Reagan term ended on what many Israelis considered to be a sour note when the United States opened a dialog with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in December 1988. But, despite the US-PLO dialogue, the Pollard spy case, or the Israeli rejection of the Shultz peace initiative in the spring of 1988, pro-Israeli organizations in the United States characterized the Reagan Administration (and the 100th Congress) as the "most pro-Israel ever" and praised the positive overall tone of bilateral relations.

Bush administration (1989–1993)

Secretary of State James Baker told an American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobby group) audience on May 22, 1989, that Israel should abandon its expansionist policies, a remark many took as a signal that the pro-Israel Reagan years were over. President Bush raised Israeli ire when he reminded a press conference on March 3, 1990, that East Jerusalem was occupied territory and not a sovereign part of Israel as the Israelis claimed. The United States and Israel disagreed over the Israeli interpretation of the Israeli plan to hold elections for a Palestinian peace conference delegation in the summer of 1989, and also disagreed over the need for an investigation of the Jerusalem incident of October 8, 1990, in which Israeli police killed 17 Palestinians.

Amid Iraqi threats against Israel generated by the Iraq-Kuwait crisis, former President Bush repeated the U.S. commitment to Israel's security. Israeli-U.S. tension eased after the start of the Persian Gulf war on January 16, 1991, when Israel became a target of Iraqi Scud missiles. The United States urged Israel not to retaliate against Iraq for the attacks because it was believed that Iraq wanted to draw Israel into the conflict and force other coalition members, Egypt and Syria in particular, to quit the coalition and join Iraq in a war against Israel. Israel did not retaliate, and gained praise for its restraint.

Bush and Baker were instrumental in convening the Madrid peace conference in October 1991 and in persuading all the parties to engage in the subsequent peace negotiations. It was reported widely that the Bush Administration did not share an amicable relationship with the Shamir government. After the Labor party won the 1992 election, U.S.-Israel relations appeared to improve. The Labor coalition approved a partial housing construction freeze in the occupied territories on July 19, something the Shamir government had not done despite Bush Administration appeals for a freeze as a condition for the loan guarantees.

Clinton administration (1993–2000)

Israel and the PLO exchanged letters of mutual recognition on September 10, and signed the Declaration of Principles on September 13, 1993. President Clinton announced on September 10 that the United States and the PLO would reestablish their dialog. On October 26, 1994, President Clinton witnessed the Jordan-Israeli peace treaty signing, and President Clinton, Egyptian President Mubarak, and King Hussein of Jordan witnessed the White House signing of the September 28, 1995 Interim Agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

President Clinton attended the funeral of assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Jerusalem in November, 1995. Following a March, 1996 visit to Israel, President Clinton offered $100 million in aid for Israel's anti-terror activities, another $200 million for the Arrow anti-missile deployment, and about $50 million for an anti-missile laser weapon. President Clinton disagreed with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policy of expanding Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, and it was reported that the President believed that the Prime Minister delayed the peace process. President Clinton hosted negotiations at the Wye River Conference Center in Maryland, ending with the signing of an agreement on October 23, 1998. Israel suspended implementation of the Wye agreement in early December 1998, because Prime Minister Netanyahu said the Palestinians violated the Wye Agreement by threatening to declare a state (Palestinian statehood was not mentioned in Wye). In January 1999, the Wye Agreement was delayed until the Israeli elections in May.
Ehud Barak was elected Prime Minister on May 17, 1999, and won a vote of confidence for his government on July 6, 1999. President Clinton and Prime Minister Barak appeared to establish close personal relations during four days of meetings between July 15 and 20 in what many observers believed was a clear reversal of the less than friendly relations between Clinton and Netanyahu. President Clinton mediated meetings between Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat at the White House, Oslo, Shepherdstown, Camp David, and Sharm al-Shaykh in the search for peace.

Bush administration (2001–present)

President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Sharon established good relations in their March and June 2001 meetings. On October 4, 2001, Sharon accused the Bush Administration of appeasing the Palestinians at Israel's expense in a bid for Arab support for the U. S. anti-terror campaign. The White House said the remark was unacceptable. Rather than apologize for the remark, Sharon said the United States failed to understand him. Also, the United States criticized the Israeli practice of assassinating Palestinians believed to be engaged in terrorism, which appeared to some Israelis to be inconsistent with the U.S. policy of pursuing Osama bin Laden "dead or alive."

All recent U.S. Administrations have disapproved of Israel's settlement activity as prejudging final status and possibly preventing the emergence of a contiguous Palestinian state. President Bush, however noted the need to take into account changed "realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population center," (i.e., settlements), asserting "it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949." He later emphasized that it was a subject for negotiations between the parties.

At times of violence, U.S. officials have urged Israel to withdraw as rapidly as possible from Palestinian areas retaken in security operations. The current Bush Administration has insisted that U.N. Security Council resolutions be "balanced," by criticizing Palestinian as well as Israeli violence and has vetoed resolutions which do not meet that standard.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has not named a Special Middle East Envoy and has said that she will not get involved in direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations of issues. She says that she prefers to have the Israelis and Palestinians work together, although she has traveled to the region several times in 2005. The Administration supported Israel's disengagement from Gaza as a way to return to the Road Map process to achieve a solution based on two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The evacuation of settlers from the Gaza Strip and four small settlements in the northern West Bank was completed on August 23, 2005.

During 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict

Equipping Israel

On 14 July, the US Congress was notified of a potential sale of $210 million worth of jet fuel to Israel. The Defense George Bush Security Cooperation Agency noted that the sale of the JP-8 fuel, should it be completed, will "enable Israel to maintain the operational capability of its aircraft inventory." and "The jet fuel will be consumed while the aircraft is in use to keep peace and security in the region." [Defense Security Cooperation Agency news release 14 July 2006, Transmittal No. 06-40, [] ] It was reported in 24 July that the United States was in the process of providing Israel with "bunker buster" bombs, which would allegedly be used to target the leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah guerilla group and destroy its trenches. [ [ "Israel to get U.S. "bunker buster" bombs - report"] , Reuters, 24 July, 2006]

American media also recently questioned whether Israel had violated an agreement not to use American supplied cluster bombs on civilian targets. Evidence during the conflict had shown that cluster bombs had been used in civilian areas, and several bomb particles remained undetonated after the war causing hazard for Lebanese civilians. Israel has responded to these accusations by saying that it had not violated any international law. [ [ BBC NEWS | Middle East | US probes Israel cluster bomb use ] ]

Opposing Immediate Unconditional Ceasefire

On Saturday 15 July the United Nations Security Council again rejected pleas from Lebanon that it call for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon. The Israeli newspaper "Haaretz" reported the U.S. was the only member of out the 15-nation UN body to oppose any council action at all.cite news|url= |publisher=Democracy Now!|title=Headlines for July 17, 2006]

On 19 July the Bush administration rejected calls for an immediate ceasefire.cite news |url= |publisher=Democracy Now! |title=Headlines for July 19, 2006 |date=19 July 2006] Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice rejected an immediate ceasefire and said one could only occur once certain conditions are met.

John Bolton, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, rejected the call for a ceasefire, on the grounds that such an action addressed the conflict only superficially: "The notion that you just declare a ceasefire and act as if that is going to solve the problem, I think is simplistic."cite news |url= |publisher=Democracy Now! |title=Headlines for July 20, 2006]

On 26 July, foreign ministers from the United States, Europe and the Middle East meeting in Rome vowed "to work immediately to reach with the utmost urgency a ceasefire that puts an end to the current violence and hostilities," though the US maintained strong support for the Israeli campaign and the conference's results were reported to have fallen short of Arab and European leaders' expectations. [cite news|title=Rome talks yield no plan to end Lebanon fighting|date=2006-07-26|publisher=Reuters|url=]

Current issues

United States military and economic aid

Since the 1970s, Israel has been one of the top recipients of U.S. foreign aid. [ [ U.S. Military Assistance and Arms Transfers to Israel] , World Policy Institute.] While it is mostly military aid, in the past a portion was dedicated to economic assistance. In 2004, the second-largest recipient of economic foreign aid from the United States was Israel, second to Iraq. In terms of "per capita" value Israel ranks first. [citation
last1 = Tarnoff | first1 = Curt
last2 = Nowels | first2 = Larry
title=Foreign Aid: An Introductory Overview of U.S. Programs and Policy
publisher=State Department
] .

In 2007, the United States increased its military aid to Israel by over 25% to an average of $3 billion per year for the following ten year period, while ending economic aid.Forbes (July 29, 2007). [] [ "Israeli PM announces 30 billion US dollar US defence aid"] . Retrieved August 3, 2007.] New York Times, August 17, 2007 [ "US and Israel sign Military deal"] .Retrieved Aug 17, 2007.]

In 1998, Israeli, congressional, and Administration officials agreed to reduce U.S. $1.2 billion in Economic Support Funds (ESF) to zero over ten years, while increasing Foreign Military Financing (FMF) from $1.8 billion to $2.4 billion. Separate from the scheduled cuts, there was an extra $200 million in anti-terror assistance, $1.2 billion to implement the Wye agreement, and the supplemental appropriations bill assisted for another $1 billion in FMF for the 2003 fiscal year. For the 2005 fiscal year, Israel received $2.202 billion in FMF, $357 million in ESF, and migration settlement assistance of $50 million. For 2006, the Administration has requested $240 million in ESF and $2.28 billion in FMF. H.R. 3057, passed in the House on June 28, 2005, and in the Senate on July 20, approves these amounts. House and Senate measures also support $40 million for the settlement of migrants from the former Soviet Union and take note of Israel's plan to bring remaining Ethiopian Jews to Israel in three years.Fact|date=December 2007

Israeli press reported that Israel is requesting about $2.25 billion in special aid in a mix of grants and loan guarantees over four years, with one-third to be used to relocate military bases from the Gaza Strip to Israel in the disengagement from the Gaza Strip and the rest to develop the Negev and Galilee regions of Israel and for other purposes, but none to help compensate settlers or for other civilian aspects of the disengagement. An Israeli team has visited Washington to present elements of the request, and preliminary discussions are underway. No formal request has been presented to Congress. In light of the costs inflicted on the United States by Hurricane Katrina, an Israeli delegation intending to discuss the aid canceled a trip to Washington.

Congress has legislated other special provisions regarding aid to Israel. Since the 1980s, ESF and FMF have been provided as all grant cash transfers, not designated for particular projects, transferred as a lump sum in the first month of the fiscal year, instead of in periodic increments. Israel is allowed to spend about one-quarter of the military aid for the procurement in Israel of defense articles and services, including research and development, rather than in the United States. Finally, to help Israel out of its economic slump, the U.S. provided $9 billion in loan guarantees over three years, use of which has since been extended to 2008. As of July 2005, Israel had not used $4.9 billion of the guarantees.

Washington pressures against peace talks with Syria

Syria has repeatedly requested that Israel re-commence peace negotiations with the Syrian government. [The Times (UK), December 20, 2006, , last visited Feb. 26, 2007] There is an on-going internal debate within the Israeli government regarding the seriousness of this Syrian invitation for negotiations. Some Israeli officials asserted that there had been some unpublicized talks with Syria not officially sanctioned by the Israeli government. [ "Syrians and Israelis 'held talks'," BBC, 1/16/07] ["Syrian, Israeli backdoor talks now emerging," Christian Science Monitor, 1/18/07] [ "Why can't they just make peace?," Economist, 1/18/07]

The United States demanded that Israel desist from even exploratory contacts with Syria to test whether Damascus is serious in its declared intentions to hold peace talks with Israel. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was forceful in expressing Washington's view on the matter to Israeli officials that even exploratory negotiations with Syria are not to be attempted. For years Israel obeyed Washington's demand to desist from officially returning to peace talks. [Haaretz, February 24, 2007, last visited Feb. 26/07] [The Times (UK), December 20, 2006, last visited Feb. 26, 2007] Around May 2008 however, Israel informed the U.S. that it is starting peace talks with Syria brokered by Turkey.

Military sales to China

Over the years, the United States and Israel have regularly discussed Israel's sale of sensitive security equipment and technology to various countries, especially China. Israel reportedly is China's second major arms supplier, after Russia. Israel is ranked fourth among the world's arms suppliers. U.S. administrations believe that such sales are potentially harmful to the security of U.S. forces in Asia.

In 2000, the United States persuaded Israel to cancel the sale of the Phalcon, an advanced, airborne early-warning system, to China. In 2005, the U.S. Department of Defense was angered by Israel's agreement to upgrade Harpy Killer unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that it sold to China in 1999. China tested the weapon over the Taiwan Strait in 2004. The Department suspended technological cooperation with the Israeli Air Force on the future F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft as well as several other cooperative programs, held up shipments of some military equipment, and refused to communicate with Israeli Defense Ministry Director, General Amos Yaron, whom Pentagon officials believe misled them about the Harpy deal. According to a reputable Israeli military journalist, the U.S. Department of Defense demanded details of 60 Israeli deals with China, an examination of Israel's security equipment supervision system, and a memorandum of understanding about arms sales to prevent future difficulties.

Maintenance contract with Venezuela

On October 21, 2005, it was reported that pressure from Washington forced Israel to freeze a major contract with Venezuela to upgrade its 22 U.S.-manufactured F-16 fighter jets. The Israeli government had requested U.S. permission to proceed with the deal, but permission has not been granted. [ [ - U.S. Forced Israel to Freeze Venezuelan F-16 Contract: Ministry - 10/21/05 10:01 ] ]


Since capturing East Jerusalem after a Jordanian attack in the 1967 war, Israel has insisted that Jerusalem is its indivisible, eternal capital. Few countries have agreed with this position and believe the city is subject to further negotiations. The U.N.'s 1947 partition plan called for the internationalization of Jerusalem (which the Jewish community accepted, and Arabs rejected), while the Declaration of Principles signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in September 1993 says that it is a subject for permanent status negotiations. During Israel's early years, Jerusalem was under siege, and most countries located their embassies in Tel Aviv. U.S. Administrations have recognized that Jerusalem's status is unresolved by keeping the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv; however, in 1995, both houses of Congress mandated that the embassy be moved to Jerusalem, and only a series of presidential waivers of penalties for non-compliance have delayed that event. U.S. legislation has granted Jerusalem status as a capital in particular instances and sought to prevent U.S. official recognition of Palestinian claims to the city. The failure of the State Department to follow congressional guidance on Jerusalem has prompted a response in H.R. 2601, the Foreign Relations Authorization bill, passed in the House on July 20, 2005.

Public opinion

Poll results fluctuate every year, although both sides of sympathy have modestly stepped up since 1998 and those with no preference have modestly decreased. The greatest percentage consistently sympathize with Israel (Gallup Poll). The September 11, 2001 attacks and 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War both saw heights in American sympathy for Israel, with most Americans putting the blame on Hezbollah for the war and the civilian casualties. [] The record-breaking height of sympathy for Israel was during the 1991 Gulf War, as well as the all-time low of sympathy for the Palestinians, whose leadership supported Saddam Hussein. []

As of July 2006, 44% of Americans thought that the "United States supports Israel about the right amount," 11% thought "too little", and 38% thought "too much". [ [ PollingReport compilation] ] [ [ CBS NEWS POLL: FIGHTING IN THE MIDDLE EAST] ] [ [ Thoughts on aid] ] [ [ ZOA poll shows support for Israel in US] ] [ [ UPI Poll: Israel's barrier finds support] ] [ [ New Poll Shows Strong and Stable U.S. Support for Israel in Third Week of Conflict with Iran-Backed Hezbollah] ] Some in the United States question the levels of aid and general commitment to Israel, and argue that a U.S. bias operates at the expense of improved relations with various Arab states. Others maintain that democratic Israel is a helpful and strategic ally, and believe that U.S. relations with Israel strengthen the U.S. presence in the Middle East. [ [ Israel, the Palestinians . . .] ] A 2002–2006 Gallup Poll of Americans by party affiliation (Republican/Democratic) and ideology (conservative/moderate/liberal) found that although sympathy for Israel is strongest amongst the right (conservative Republicans), the group most on the left (liberal Democrats) also have a greater percentage sympathizing with Israel. Although proportions are different, each group has most sympathizing more with Israel, followed by both/neither, and lastly more with the Palestinians. [] . Gallup's Feb. 1–4 World Affairs poll included the annual update on Americans' ratings of various countries around the world, and asked Americans to rate the overall importance to the United States of what happens in most of these nations. Israel is the one country that a majority of Americans feel favorably toward and say that what happens there is vitally important to the United States. [] [,7340,L-3368650,00.html]

Israeli attitudes toward the U.S. is overwhelmingly positive; Israelis, more than the citizens of any other developed country in the world, support the United States. In every way of measuring a country's view of America (American: ideas about democracy; ways of doing business; music, movies and television; science and technology; spread of U.S. ideas), Israel came on top as the developed country who viewed it most positively. []


Like the United States, Israel is in large part a nation of immigrants. Israel has welcomed newcomers inspired by Zionism, the Jewish national liberation movement. Zionism is an expression of the Jewish yearning to live in their historical homeland, the Land of Israel. The largest numbers of immigrants have come to Israel from countries in the Middle East and Europe where Jews have been persecuted.

The United States has played a special role in assisting Israel with the complex task of absorbing and assimilating masses of immigrants in short periods of time. Soon after Israel's War of Independence, President Truman offered $135 million in loans to help Israel cope with the arrival of thousands of refugees from the Holocaust. Within the first three years of Israel's establishment, the number of immigrants more than doubled the Jewish population of the country.

Mass immigrations have continued throughout Israeli history. Since 1989, Israel absorbed approximately one million Jews from the former Soviet Union. The United States worked with Israel to bring Jews from Arab countries, Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union to Israel, and has assisted in their absorption into Israeli society.


The cornerstone of the vibrant U.S.-Israel economic relationship is the 1985 Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the first FTA ever signed by the United States. Over the last 20 years the FTA has enabled a sevenfold expansion of bilateral trade. Israel has become one of the largest trading partners of the U.S. in the Middle East and Israel's prime export destination is the United States. The Israeli and American economies share common commitments to a free market, competitiveness, active support of international trade liberalization and of the multilateral trading system. There is constant dialogue between the governments of Israel and the United States to upgrade their economic relationship and to ensure a continued prosperous partnership.

Corporate Exchange

Several regional America-Israel Chambers of Commerce exist to facilitate expansion by Israeli and American companies into each other's markets. American companies such as Motorola, IBM, Microsoft and Intel chose Israel to establish major R&D centers. Remarkably, Israel has more companies listed on the NASDAQ than any country outside North America.

trategic Cooperation

The U.S. and Israel are engaged in extensive strategic, political and military cooperation. This cooperation is broad and includes American aid, intelligence sharing, joint military exercises, and a mutual commitment to defending democracy. American military aid to Israel comes in different forms, including grants, special project allocations and loans. Approximately 75% of this aid is spent in the United States, providing American jobs, buttressing the American defense industry, and generating economic growth.

Memorandum of Understanding

To address threats to security in the Middle East, including joint military exercises and readiness activities, cooperation in defense trade and access to maintenance facilities. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding marked the beginning of close security cooperation and coordination between the American and Israeli governments. Comprehensive cooperation between Israel and the United States on security issues became official in 1981 when Israel's Defense Minister Ariel Sharon and American Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger signed a Memorandum of Understanding that recognized "the common bonds of friendship between the United States and Israel and builds on the mutual security relationship that exists between the two nations." The memorandum called for several measures.

Arrow Missile System

One facet of the U.S.-Israel strategic relationship is the joint development of the Arrow Anti-Ballistic Missile Program. Designed to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles, the Arrow is the most advanced missile defense system in the world. The development is funded by both Israel and the United States. Not only does the Arrow protect Israel, it has also provided the U.S. the research and experience necessary to develop additional defensive weapons systems.


In April 1996, President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Shimon Peres signed the U.S.-Israel Counter-terrorism Accord. The two countries agreed to further cooperation in information sharing, training, investigations, research and development and policymaking.

Homeland Security

At the federal, state and local levels there is close Israeli-American cooperation on Homeland Security. Israel was one of the first countries to cooperate with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in developing initiatives to enhance homeland security. In this framework, there are many areas of partnership, including preparedness and protection of travel and trade. American and Israeli law enforcement officers and Homeland Security officials regularly meet in both countries to study counter-terrorism techniques and new ideas regarding intelligence gathering and threat prevention.

In December 2005, the United States and Israel signed an agreement to begin a joint effort to detect the smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive material by installing special equipment in Haifa, Israel's busiest seaport. This effort is part of a nonproliferation program of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration that works with foreign partners to detect, deter, and interdict illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials.


*"Israeli-United States Relations" [ Almanac of Policy Issues]
*Ball, George W. and Douglas B. Ball. "The Passionate Attachment: America's Involvement With Israel, 1947 to the Present". New York: W.W. Norton, 1992. (ISBN 0-393-02933-6)


last1 = Tarnoff | first1 = Curt
last2 = Nowels | first2 = Larry
contribution = Face recog…
title=Foreign Aid: An Introductory Overview of U.S. Programs and Policy
publisher=State Department

See also

*America-Israel Friendship League
*Foreign relations of the United States
*United States Ambassador to Israel
*Foreign relations of Israel
*Israel lobby in the United States
*Arab lobby in the United States
*"The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy"
*USS "Liberty" incident

External links

* [ Israel and the United States: Friends, Partners, Allies]
* [ Israeli–United States Relations] Congressional Research Service
* [ Origins of the US-Israeli Strategic Partnership]
* [ Israeli Embassy in Washington,D.C. page on U.S.-Israel relations]
* [ United States Embassy in Israel]
* [ Israel: Background and Relations with the United States] CRS Report for Congress
* [ Israeli–United States Relations] Policy Almanac
* [ United States Support of Israel?]
* [ U.S. rejects Israeli request to join visa waiver plan] by Aluf Benn, Haaretz, February 19, 2006
* [ How Special is the U.S.-Israel relationship?]
* [ Address by PM Olmert to a Joint Meeting of the U.S. Congress]
* [ President Bush Meets with Bipartisan Members of Congress on the G8 Summit] Transcript
* [ President Discusses Foreign Policy During Visit to State Department] Transcript
* [ President Bush and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel Participate in Joint Press Availability] Transcript
* [ U.S.-Israel Relations]
* [ Coming Moment of Truth between Israel and the US] by Gidi Grinstein [ Reut Institute]

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