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Date posted: October 10, 2003
By Clyde R. Mark



Summary


Israeli-U.S. relations are an important factor in U.S. policy in the Middle East, and Congress has placed considerable importance on the maintenance of a close and supportive relationship. The main vehicle for expressing support for Israel has been foreign aid; Israel currently receives about $3 billion per year in economic and military grants, refugee settlement assistance, and other aid. Congress has monitored the aid issue closely along with other issues in bilateral relations, and its concerns have affected Administrationís policies.

U.S.-Israeli relations have evolved from an initial American policy of sympathy and support for the creation of a Jewish homeland in 1948 to an unusual partnership that links a small but militarily powerful Israel, dependent on the United States for its economic and military strength, with the U.S. superpower trying to balance competing interests in the region. Some in the United States question the levels of aid and general commitment to Israel, and argue that a U.S. bias toward Israel operates at the expense of improved U.S. relations with various Arab states. Others maintain that democratic Israel is a strategic ally, and that U.S. relations with IsraeL strengthens the U.S. presence in the Middle East.

The United States fully supported the Israeli-PLO Declaration of Principles signed in Washington on September 13, 1993, and the follow-up agreements in May 1994, September 1995, the Hebron agreement of January 15, 1997, and the Wye agreement of October 23, 1998, mediated by President Clinton.

By the Same Author

Date: 10/10/2003

Source: Congressional Research Service
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