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Israel: Background and Relations with the United States

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Congressional rept.

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On May 14, 1948, the State of Israel declared its independence and was immediately engaged in a war with all of its neighbors. Armed conflict has marked every decade of Israels existence. Despite its unstable regional environment, Israel has developed a vibrant parliamentary democracy, albeit with relatively fragile governments. The Kadima Party placed first in the March 28, 2006, Knesset parliament election Prime Minister Ehud Olmert formed a four-party coalition government, which another party has since joined. Israel has an advanced industrial, market economy in which the government plays a substantial role. Israels foreign policy is focused largely on its region, Europe, and the United States. The government views Iran as an existential threat due to its nuclear ambitions and support for anti-Israel terrorists. Israel concluded peace treaties with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994 but never achieved accords with Syria and Lebanon. It negotiated a series of agreements with the Palestinians in the 1990s, but the Oslo peace process ended in 2000, with the Palestinian intifadah or uprising against Israeli occupation. Since 1948, the United States and Israel have developed a close friendship based on common democratic values, religious affinities, and security interests. The United States is the principal proponent of the Arab-Israeli peace process, but U.S. and Israeli views have differed on various issues, such as the fate of the Golan Heights, Jerusalem, and Israeli settlements. The Bush Administration and Congress supported Israels 2006 military campaigns as acts of self-defense. The United States and Israel concluded a free-trade agreement in 1985, and the United States is Israels largest trading partner. Israel is a prominent recipient of U.S. foreign aid. Other issues in U.S.-Israeli relations include Israels military sales to China, inadequate Israeli protection of U.S. intellectual property, and espionage-related cases.

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  • Government and Political Science

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