JERUSALEM -- Avraham Harman, 77, a former ambassador to Washington who played a major role in establishing Israel's alliance with the United States, died Feb. 23 of pneumonia at Hadassah University Hospital here.

Mr. Harman was born in London, the son of a rabbi and Hebrew language instructor. He received a law degree from Oxford's Wadham College and served on the staff of the Zionist Federation in London before immigrating to Palestine in 1938. He entered the diplomatic service when Israel won statehood in 1948. He was Israel's first consul in Montreal, then ambassador to Washington from 1959 to 1968. In that role he argued successfully for U.S. military support for Israel to offset Soviet military support for the Arab countries.

He was closely involved in the diplomatic contacts with the Johnson administration during the buildup leading to the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

After the war, when France withdrew as Israel's main backer and cut off arms supplies, Mr. Harman helped lay the foundations of the alliance that turned the United States into Israel's chief political and military supporter.

After leaving Washington, Mr. Harman became president of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, serving in that capacity until 1983. He continued on the staff as its chancellor until his death.

Survivors include his wife, Zena, three children and eight grandchildren.