Israel: Background and Relations with the United States [Updated February 26, 2008]   [open pdf - 278KB]

"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. […] It 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. Israel unilaterally withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000. […] In 2003, Israeli and Palestinian officials accepted the 'Road Map,' an international framework for achieving a two-state solution to their conflict, but never implemented it. Israel unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and is constructing a security barrier in the West Bank to separate from the Palestinians. Hamas's victory in 2006 Palestinian elections complicated Israeli- Palestinian relations. […] Israel resumed talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA) in June 2007, after PA President Mahmud Abbas dissolved the Hamas-led unity government in response to Hamas's military takeover of Gaza. On November 27, the international Annapolis Conference officially welcomed the renewed bilateral negotiations. 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 and Israel concluded a free-trade agreement in 1985, and the United States is Israel's largest trading partner. Israel is a prominent recipient of U.S. foreign aid. The two countries also have close security relations. Other 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."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33476
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