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Israel: Background and U.S. Relations

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Congressional rept.

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Since Israel s founding in 1948, successive U.S. Presidents and many Members of Congress have demonstrated a commitment to Israel s security and to maintaining close U.S.-Israel defense, diplomatic, and economic cooperation. U.S. and Israeli leaders have developed close relations based on common perceptions of shared democratic values and religious affinities. U.S. policymakers often seek to determine how regional events and U.S. policy choices may affect Israel s security, and Congress provides active oversight of executive branch dealings with Israel and the broader Middle East. Some Members of Congress and some analysts criticize what they perceive as U.S. support for Israel without sufficient scrutiny of its actions. Israel is a leading recipient of U.S. foreign aid and is a frequent purchaser of major U.S. weapons systems. The United States and Israel maintain close security cooperation predicated on a U.S. commitment to maintain Israel s qualitative military edge over other countries in its region. The two countries signed a free trade agreement in 1985, and the United States is Israel s largest trading partner. For more information, see CRS Report RL33222, U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel, by Jeremy M. Sharp. Israel has many regional security concerns. Israeli leaders calling for urgent international action against Iran s nuclear program hint at the possibility of a unilateral military strike against Iran s nuclear facilities. In addition to concerns over Iran, Israel s perceptions of security around its borders have changed since early 2011 as several surrounding Arab countries including Egypt and Syria have experienced political upheaval. Israel has shown particular concern about threats from Hezbollah and other non-state groups in ungoverned or minimally governed areas in Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt s Sinai Peninsula, as well as from Hamas and other Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Nuclear Weapons

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