Relations between the United States and Israel were strengthened during Reagan`s second term. Israel was granted “great non-NATO ally” status in 1989, giving it access to extensive weapons systems and opportunities for participation in U.S. defence treaties. The United States maintained financial assistance to Israel at $3 billion per year and implemented a free trade agreement in 1985. Since then, all tariffs between the two trading partners have been abolished. However, when Israel conducted Operation Opera, relations were marred by an Israeli air strike on the Osirak nuclear reactor in Baghdad. Reagan suspended the delivery of military aircraft to Israel and strongly criticized the action. Relations were also ruined during the Lebanon War in 1982, when the United States even considered sanctions to end the Israeli siege of Beirut. The United States reminded Israel that the weapons supplied by the United States should only be used for defence purposes and stopped the shipments of cluster munitions to Israel. Although the war revealed serious differences between Israeli and American policies, such as Israel`s rejection of Reagan`s Peace Plan of September 1, 1982, it did not change the Israeli government`s preference and the emphasis on Israel`s importance to the United States. Although critical of Israel`s action, the United States vetoed a UNITED Nations Security Council resolution proposed by the Soviet Union imposing an arms embargo on Israel.
At the beginning of the first term, Ronald Reagan`s Israeli supporters expressed concern about possible difficulties in U.S.-Israel relations, in part because several president appointees had previous trade ties or ties to important Arab countries (for example. B Secretaries Caspar Weinberger and George P. Shultz were officers in the Bechtel Corporation, which had close ties to the Arab world, see Arab lobby in the United States). However, President Reagan`s personal support for Israel and the compatibility between Israel`s and Reagan`s perspectives on terrorism, security cooperation and the Soviet threat have led to a considerable strengthening of bilateral relations.