U.S. Relations With Israel

Reference: U.S. Department of State

The United States played a key supporting role in Israel’s 1948 founding, Israel and the United States are bound closely by historic and cultural ties as well as by mutual interests. Commitment to Israel’s security has been a cornerstone of U.S. policy in the Middle East since Israel’s creation.

Israel’s founding was preceded by more than 50 years of efforts to establish a sovereign state as a homeland for Jews. The 1917 Balfour Declaration asserted the British Government’s support for the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Palestine became a British mandate following the end of World War I (1914-1918). Immediately after the end of British mandate on May 14, 1948, the State of Israel was proclaimed, and the U.S. recognized Israel that same day. Palestinians in Palestine and neighboring Arab states rejected a 1947 UN partition plan that would have divided Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states, and the area has seen periods of invasions and armed conflict since 1948.

The broad issues of Arab-Israeli and Palestinian-Israeli peace continue to be a major focus of the U.S.-Israel relationship. The basis of U.S. efforts to reach a Middle East peace settlement includes UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and have been based on the premise that as Israel takes calculated risks for peace, the United States will help minimize those risks.

Bilateral relations between the United States and Israel cover many areas. The two countries have a thriving two-way trade relationship and deep social and cultural connections. They participate in security dialogues, joint military planning, and combined exercises, and have collaborated on military research and weapons development. There also are bilateral science and technology efforts (including the Binational Science Foundation and the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Foundation); the U.S.-Israeli Education Foundation, which sponsors educational and cultural programs; the Joint Economic Development Group, which maintains a high-level dialogue on economic issues; the Joint Counterterrorism Group, designed to enhance cooperation in fighting terrorism; and a high-level, semi-annual Strategic Dialogue.

U.S. Assistance to Israel

U.S. security assistance to Israel acknowledges strong bilateral ties and reflects the unshakable commitment of the United States to Israel’s security. Annually, the U.S. provides Israel $3.1 billion in security assistance.

Bilateral Economic Relations

The United States is Israel’s largest single trading partner. The top five U.S. exports to Israel are: diamonds, machinery, agricultural products, aircraft, and optic and medical instruments. The top five U.S. imports from Israel are: include diamonds, pharmaceutical products, machinery, optic and medical instruments, and agricultural products. U.S. direct investment in Israel is primarily in the manufacturing sector, as is Israeli investment in the United States. The United States and Israel have had a free trade agreement since 1985, serving as the foundation for expanding trade and investment between the two countries by reducing barriers and promoting regulatory transparency.

Israel’s Membership in International Organizations

Israel and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Israel also is a Partner for Cooperation with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and an observer to the Organization of American States.

Bilateral Representation

The U.S. Ambassador to Israel is Daniel B. Shapiro; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List. Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in 1950. The United States, like nearly all other countries, maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv.

Israel maintains an embassy in the United States at 3514 International Drive NW, Washington DC, 20008 (tel. 202-364-5500).