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To the United States Israel is different: both countries have a special relationship since the creation of the Israeli State in 1948. It is not an insignificant fact that during a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Mitt Romney promised that the first country he would visit if he was elected President, would be Israel.
Jim Zanotti, specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs, wrote in a CRS Report for Congress dedicated to the relations between the United States and Israel: “Since Israel’s founding in 1948, successive U.S. Presidents and many Members of Congress have demonstrated a commitment to Israel’s security and to maintaining close U.S.-Israel defense, diplomatic, and economic cooperation. U.S. and Israeli leaders have pursued common security goals and have developed close relations based on common perceptions of shared democratic values and religious affinities.”
Both nations signed a free trade agreement in 1985, and the United States is Israel’s most important trading partner. Israel is the United States’ most important ally in a very conflictive area of the world, the Middle East.
But in recent years relations have become less fluid and even tense during some periods, like in 2011 when the United States government tried to press Israel to fulfill their promise of Palestinian independence within the next few months.
The United States didn’t get the expected reaction from Israel: Prime Minister Netanyahu’s response was an absolute no, so all hopes that Palestinian independence might finally come, simply vanished. This did not bode well in the White House, even though President Obama told Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, that the United State would veto any United Nations proposals to recognize Palestinian statehood.
The last diplomatic struggle between the United States and Israel concerns Iran and its nuclear program. Prime Minister Netanyahu is pressuring the United States for a stronger policy against an Iranian nuclear program, based on economic sanctions to force immediate shut-down of the nuclear program. Israel demands that Iran agree to halt all its enrichment of uranium in the country, a demand that Iran is not willing to meet. The White House also rejected the Israeli demands and decided to stick with the economic sanctions plan.
The United States’ support of Israel has caused an anti-American reaction in some Arab countries, like Jordan, Lebanon and Sudan, were American flags have been burned and diplomats have even been killed. Even with all the political and economic cost it carries, the United States will still support Israel, which is proven by the Pentagon’s announcement in May to send $70 million dollars to Israel to help it enhance its missile defense system.
Image Courtesy of World Economic Forum