The United States was the first country to recognize Israel as a state in 1948, and the first to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 2017. Israel has long been, and remains, America’s most reliable partner in the Middle East. Israel and the United States are bound closely by historic and cultural ties as well as by mutual interests.
Israel's founding was preceded by more than 50 years of efforts to establish a sovereign state as a homeland for the Jewish people. The 1917 Balfour Declaration asserted the British Government's support for the creation “in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” Following the end of World War I (1914-1918), the League of Nations entrusted Great Britain with the Mandate for Palestine. 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. Arabs in the Mandatory and neighboring Arab states rejected a 1947 UN partition plan that would have divided the Mandatory into separate Jewish and Arab states, and the area has seen periods of invasions and armed conflict since 1948.
The United States is committed to supporting the parties in efforts to reach a lasting, comprehensive peace agreement that offers a brighter future to both Israel and the Palestinians.
U.S. Assistance to Israel
The U.S.-Israel bilateral relationship is strong, anchored by over $3 billion in Foreign Military Financing annually. In addition to financial support, the U.S. participates in a high level of exchanges with Israel, to include joint military exercises, military research, and weapons development. Through the Joint Counterterrorism Group and a semi-annual Strategic Dialogue, the U.S. and Israel have enhanced their cooperation in fighting terrorism.
Bilateral Economic Relations
The United States is Israel's largest single trading partner. The top five U.S. exports to Israel are: diamonds, semiconductors, civilian aircraft, telecommunications equipment, and agricultural products. The top five U.S. imports from Israel are: diamonds, pharmaceutical products, semiconductors, medicinal equipment, and telecommunications equipment. 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. To facilitate economic cooperation, the two countries convene a Joint Economic Development Group each year to discuss economic conditions in both countries and possible economic reforms for the coming year.
The U.S. and Israel also coordinate scientific and cultural exchanges through the Binational Science Foundation, the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Foundation, and the U.S.-Israeli Education Foundation.
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.