"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 Israel's existence. Despite its unstable regional environment, Israel has developed a vibrant parliamentary democracy, albeit with relatively fragile governments. Most recently, the Kadima Party placed first in the March 28, 2006, Knesset (parliament) election, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert formed a four-party coalition government. Israel has an advanced industrial, market economy in which the government plays a substantial role. The economy is now doing very well, and increased social spending is expected...Since 1948, the United States and Israel have developed a close friendship based on common democratic values, religious affinities, and security interests. U.S.-Israeli bilateral relations are multidimensional. The United States is the principal proponent of the Arab-Israeli peace process, but U.S. and Israeli views differ on various peace process issues, such as the fate of the Golan Heights, Jerusalem, and Israeli settlements. The United States and Israel concluded a free-trade agreement in 1985, and the United States is Israel's largest trading partner. Since 1976, Israel has been the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid. The two countries also have close security relations. Current issues in U.S.-Israeli relations include Israel's military sales to China, inadequate Israeli protection of U.S. intellectual property, and espionage related cases."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33476