Israel Foreign Policy



Israel is located in the Middle East, along the eastern coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, bordered by Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. It lies at the junction of three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa. Long and narrow in shape the country is only 290 miles in length and 85 miles in width at its widest point. Israel is a country of immigrants. Since its creation in 1948, the population has increased seven-fold. Today, its over six million inhabitants represent many different cultures and traditions, including Jews from Ethiopia, Morocco, the Soviet Union, Europe and America. Jews from around the world have immigrated to Israel and make up 80% of the Israeli population. The other 20% is made up mostly of Arabs. (Encyclopedia Britannica)
On May 14, 1948, immediately following the proclamation of the state of Israel, President Harry S. Truman extended recognition to the new state. This act marked the beginning of a relationship based on common values and characterized by deep friendship, economic support and mutual respect. The similarities between the two countries are notable: both are vibrant democracies anchored in liberal traditions; both began as pioneer societies; and both are still receiving and integrating new immigrants. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, a region dominated by authoritarian and military regimes. In a very unstable region of the world, Israel stands out as the only country with regular, competitive elections, a free press, and free speech. By supporting Israel, the U.S. stays true to its historic national commitment to strengthen fellow democracies. In addition, Israel is a reliable strategic partner in the fight against terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by rogue regimes; state-sponsored terrorism; the potential disruption of access to Middle East oil; and the spread of Islamic radicalism. The U.S. Israeli partnership has also been cost effective, avoiding the expensive deployment of American troops. No U.S. troops have ever been required to protect Israel, while by comparison America maintains 135,000 troops in Europe and spends nearly $80 billion each year on the defense of Europe.(Country Study, 234) Maintaining Israel\'s military advantage has proven an efficient way to ensure that American interests will prevail against the forces of terror, authoritarianism, and extremism. Despite constant tensions with Arab neighbors, border disputes, full-out war, terrorist threats, and a yet unresolved Palestinian problem, the U.S. has remained loyal to Israel. America\'s long-standing commitment allows Israel to negotiate with its former and current adversaries from a position of strength. Israel can take risks for peace only because of unwavering American support; this support has also prodded Israel\'s Arab neighbors to deal directly with Israel. (JSOURCE)
The Clinton administration has played a key role in the Middle East peace process by actively supporting the agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel\'s peace treaty with Jordan, negotiations with Syria and efforts to promote regional cooperation, including an end to the Arab boycott. Pledging to maintain Israel\'s qualitative edge, it has also committed itself to minimizing the security risks that Israel might incur in its pursuit of peace. Moreover, the United States has recently taken several important measures to back Israel in its war against terrorism. The continuing and deepening amity between Israel and the United States has been defined by various American administrations in terms ranging from the preservation of Israel as a \'basic tenet\' of American foreign policy, with emphasis on a \'special relationship\' between the two states, to a declaration of an American commitment to Israel. (Country Study, 245) By the early 1980s, Israel was regarded by the United States as a strategic asset and was designated, in accordance with legislation passed the previous year, as a major non-NATO ally. Congressional backing for Israel is bipartisan. Support for annual military and economic assistance, the peace process and Israel\'s struggle against terrorism have been hallmarks of Congress\' commitment to United States-Israel friendship, as was the passage of legislation (1995) recognizing Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel and calling for the establishment of the United States embassy in Jerusalem by May 1999. The special relationship encompasses mutual economic, political, strategic and diplomatic concerns. Israel currently receives some $3 billion a year in security and economic aid, and bilateral trade has been enhanced by the Israel-United