JERUSALEM, AUG. 15 -- Israel's exclusion from the U.S.-led military and economic campaign against Iraq, a role requested by Washington, has prompted growing concern here that the country's traditional place as the premier U.S. ally in the Middle East is being undermined, together with its claim on billions of dollars in American aid.

Over the last two weeks, Israeli officials have made clear that, despite a series of "strategic cooperation" agreements between Israel and the United States, the U.S. military has not sought to use Israel as a base for any of its operations in the region, forgoing even those plans that call for Israel to serve as a medical center and storage site for materiel.

At Washington's request, Israel also has made clear that it has no intention of committing its powerful armed forces to any action in the Persian Gulf crisis unless Iraq attacks Israel or moves forces into Jordan, the buffer state between the two countries.

Israel's sideline stance is so complete that the defense minister, Moshe Arens, said Tuesday that the Israelis would play no role in sealing off the Jordanian port of Aqaba to Iraqi shipping -- even though Aqaba is only a mile from Israel's only Red Sea port, Eilat, where significant Israeli naval forces are stationed.

Although President Bush, Defense Secretary Richard B. Cheney, and other senior administration officials have been in close contact with the leaders of almost every country in the gulf region, aides say Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Arens have not spoken with their counterparts in Washington since the crisis began.

The most significant recent contact between the Israeli and U.S. governments occurred Tuesday, when Israel's ambassador in Washington, Moshe Arad, requested a meeting with Secretary of State James A. Baker III.

Israeli officials contend that their country's apparent isolation masks close cooperation by Shamir's government with American interests.

Israel is helping the United States, these officials say, by keeping a low profile and thus thwarting efforts by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to convert the gulf conflict into an Arab-Israeli confrontation.

Meanwhile, officials say, Israel serves as a valuable source of intelligence and other invisible services to the U.S. campaign.

Still, a growing number of Israeli analysts and officials are expressing concern that the country is appearing to be of little value as a U.S. ally, an image that could erode a military relationship that is of fundamental importance to Israel.

"The war in the Persian Gulf threatens to destroy the legend of Israel's existence as a front-line base for the United States against half-crazy oil pirates," wrote commentator Akiva Eldar in the newspaper Haaretz.

"On the face of it," Eldar wrote, "the American taxpayer has the right to ask his representatives why they are shelling out $3 billion for a country that, in the moment of truth, turns out to be nothing but an empty vessel."

Of the more than $3 billion Israel receives annually in U.S. aid, $1.8 billion is military assistance that it uses to buy top-of-the-line U.S. weapons.

In recent years, Israel's own defense industry has also become heavily dependent on U.S. contracts, and U.S. funds are covering 80 percent of the cost of Israel's most advanced weapons program, the Arrow air defense missile.

During the Reagan administration, Israel signed "strategic cooperation" agreements with the United States that were intended to assure continued U.S. military support for Israel by giving it a key role in U.S. strategic planning in the Middle East.

However, under the Pentagon's doctrine, Israel was perceived mainly as a bulwark against Soviet penetration in the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly through its client Syria.

Israeli officials point out that if a military conflict erupts between Iraq and the United States, the situation could change quickly and Israeli forces could end up in a major role. Some analysts argue that even now, Israel's oft-repeated warning to Iraq not to introduce forces into Jordan is serving to contain Saddam on the western front and could make it easier for Jordan's King Hussein eventually to back the West's trade boycott of Iraq.

Official sources say that Israel is also providing subtle assistance by signaling Syria that if it diverts troops from positions facing Israel on the Golan Heights to its border with Iraq, Israel "will not take advantage of the situation," as one source put it. Israeli sources said today that Syria may be thinning out its deployment on the Golan, although it is not yet clear that it has moved any troops toward the Iraqi border.

Still, the specter of U.S. forces deploying alongside those of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria, and reports of U.S. plans for major new arms sales to its Arab allies are troubling officials here, who fear America's growing alliance with the moderate Arabs will assume paramount importance in Washington. If the multinational force eventually succeeds in dislodging Saddam from Kuwait without Israeli assistance, the United States might be moved to compensate the Arab regimes at the expense of Israel, officials here say.

"It's possible that after the crisis in the Persian Gulf ends in one way or another, the {Bush} administration will wave the flag of Israel's noncontribution to the monumental effort in order to prepare the ground for pressure on the Palestinian issue," Eldar wrote, voicing a concern that government officials repeat in private. Pressure for Israeli concessions on its rule of the occupied territories, it is thought, would be used by the United States to reward Egypt, Syria, and even Jordan, if it eventually agrees to cooperate with Washington.

That prospect has left some officials here betting that the U.S.-Arab alliance will sour before the gulf crisis is finished. "You will see, in the end it will be American boys who get killed and not Arabs, and this will change the perceptions," one official predicted. "In any case, when the crisis is over, the alignment of Arab states will shift again, because apart from their fear of Saddam, their interests and those of the 'States are very different."