Policy & History

The United States was the first country to recognize Israel as an independent state on May 14, 1948, when President Harry Truman issued a statement of recognition following Israel’s proclamation of independence on the same date. Diplomatic Relations were established when U.S. Ambassador James Grover McDonald presented his credentials on March 28, 1949.

Since then, Israel has become, 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.

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 also enhanced their cooperation in fighting terrorism.

The U.S. is Israel’s largest single trading partner. The top five U.S. exports to Israel are: diamonds, machinery, agricultural products, aircraft, and optic and medical instruments. The top five U.S. imports from Israel are: diamonds, pharmaceutical products, machinery, optic and medical instruments, and agricultural products. 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.