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Difference between revisions of "Israel"

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The '''State of Israel''' ([[Hebrew language|Hebrew]]: "מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל" (Medinat Yisra'el); [[Arabic language|Arabic]]: "دَوْلَةْ إِسْرَائِيل" ( Dawlat Isrā'īl) is a country in the [[Southwest Asia|Western Asia]]n [[Levant]], on the southeastern edge of the [[Mediterranean Sea]]. It borders [[Lebanon]] on the north, [[Syria]] and [[Jordan]] on the east, and [[Egypt]] on the south-west.<ref name="MFAarea">http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/facts%20about%20israel/land/ </ref>
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'''The State of Israel''' (Hebrew: מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, Medinat Yisra'el) is a country in the Middle East region, bordering the [[Mediterranean Sea]] on the west, [[Egypt]] on the south-west, [[Jordan]] on the east, [[Syria]] on the northeast, and [[Lebanon]] on the north. Israel's capital and largest city is [[Jerusalem]] and it has a population of slightly more than 7 million. It's total land area is 20,330 square kilometers.  
  
Israel [[Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel|declared its independence]] in 1948. With a diverse population currently exceeding seven million citizens of primarily Jewish background and religion, it is the world's only [[Jewish state]].<ref>[http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=22&year=2006&country=6985 "Country Report &mdash; Israel (2006)"], [[Freedom House]], 2006, accessed October 17, 2006.</ref><ref>[http://www1.cbs.gov.il/shnaton57/st02_07x.pdf], Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, accessed October 2, 2006.</ref> [[Jerusalem]] is the capital city and seat of government.<ref name="capital">The national President's residence, government offices, supreme court and [[Knesset|parliament]] are located in Jerusalem, which is Israel's capital according to Israel's ''[[Jerusalem Law|Basic Law]]''. This states that "''Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.''" However, the [[Palestinian Authority]] sees [[East Jerusalem]] as the future capital of [[Palestine]]. Also, the [[United Nations]] and most countries do not accept the Basic Law, arguing that Jerusalem's final status must await future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Most countries maintain their embassies in [[Tel Aviv]] <small>(see [https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/is.html CIA Factbook] and [http://www.un.org/Depts/Cartographic/map/profile/israel.pdf Map of Israel])</small> See [[Positions on Jerusalem]] for more information.</ref> Israel is the only country in the [[Middle East]] considered to be a [[liberal democracy]], having a broad array of [[political rights]] and [[civil liberties]] present.<ref>[http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=70&release=317 Global Survey 2006: Middle East Progress Amid Global Gains in Freedom]</ref><ref>[http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=35&year=2006 freedomhouse.org: Methodology]</ref> In addition, Israel is considered the most advanced in the region in terms of [[economy|economic competition]],<ref>[[Global Competitiveness Report]]</ref> [[commercial law|business regulations]],<ref>[[Ease of Doing Business Index]]</ref> [[freedom of the press]],<ref>[[Reporters Without Borders]]</ref> and overall [[human development]].<ref>[[Human Development Index]]</ref>
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Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948 following the UN Partition Plan which was adopted by the UN's General Assembly on November 29, 1947.
 
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==Name==
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The name "Israel" is rooted in the [[Hebrew Bible]], [[Genesis]] 32:28, where [[Jacob]] is renamed Israel after successfully wrestling with an angel of God.<ref name="israelname">This adversary was "a man", and later "God" according to [[Genesis (Old Testament)|Genesis]] 32:24–30; or "the angel", according to [[Book of Hosea|Hosea]] 12:4</ref> The biblical nation fathered by Jacob was then called "The [[Children of Israel]]" or the "[[Israelite]]s".
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The modern country was named ''State of Israel'', and its citizens are referred to as ''Israelis'' in English. Other rejected name proposals included ''[[Eretz Israel]]'', ''[[Zion]]'' and ''[[Judea]]''.<ref name=PalestinePost>In ''[[The Palestine Post]]'' December 7, 1947, page 1. "Popular Opinion" column, the name New Judea was even discussed.</ref> The use of the term Israeli to refer to a citizen of Israel was decided by the Government of Israel in the weeks immediately after independence and announced by [[Foreign Minister]] [[Moshe Shertok]].<ref>{{cite news |url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,798687-2,00.html |publisher=[[Time (magazine)|TIME Magazine]] |date=May 31, 1948 |title=On the Move}}</ref>
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==History==
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{{main|History of Israel}}
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===Historical roots===
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{{seealso|History of ancient Israel and Judah|Jewish history|History of the Jews in the Land of Israel}}
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The first historical record of the word "Israel" comes from an [[Egypt]]ian [[Merneptah Stele|stele]] documenting [[military campaign]]s in [[Canaan]]. Although this stele which referred to a people (the [[determinative]] for '[[country]]' was absent) is dated to approximately 1211 [[BCE]],<ref name="stones">{{cite web |url=http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/otarch2.html#merneptah |title=The Stones Speak: The Merneptah Stele |accessdate=2006-04-08}}</ref> Jewish tradition holds that the [[Land of Israel]] has been a Jewish [[Holy Land]] and [[Promised land]] for four thousand years, since the time of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). The land of Israel holds a special place in Jewish religious obligations, encompassing Judaism's most important sites (such as the remains of the [[Solomon's Temple|First]] and [[Second Temple]]s of the Jewish People). Connected with these two versions of the temple are religiously significant rites which stand as the origin for many aspects of modern Judaism.<ref name="land">{{cite web |url=http://www.jewfaq.org/israel.htm |title=The Land of Israel |accessdate=2006-04-08}}</ref> Starting around the eleventh century [[Common Era|BCE]], the first of a series of [[History of ancient Israel and Judah|Jewish kingdoms and states]] established intermittent rule over the [[Land of Israel#Dimensions of the Land of Israel|region]] that lasted more than a [[millennium]].<ref>[http://mapsofwar.com/ind/imperial-history.html Maps of war shows Jewish rule]</ref>
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Under [[Assyria]]n, [[Babylonia]]n, [[Persian Empire|Persian]], [[Hellenistic Greece|Greek]], [[Roman Empire|Roman]], [[Byzantine Empire|Byzantine]], and (briefly) [[Sassanid Empire|Sassanian]] rule, Jewish presence in the region dwindled because of mass expulsions. [[Image:Sack of jerusalem.JPG|thumb|The [[Menorah]] sacked from Jerusalem, as seen on the [[Arch of Titus]].]]In particular, the failure of the [[Bar Kokhba's revolt]] against the [[Roman Empire]] in [[132|132 CE]] resulted in a large-scale expulsion of Jews. It was during this time that the Romans gave the name [[Syria Palaestina]] to the geographic area, in an attempt to erase Jewish ties to the land.<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.usd.edu/erp/Palestine/history.htm#135-337 |title=Palestine: History: 135-337: Syria Palaestina and the Tetrarchy |accessdate=2006-07-19 |last=Lehmann |first=Clayton Miles |year=1998 |month=Summer |work=The On-line Encyclopedia of the Roman Provinces |publisher=University of South Dakota}}</ref> Nevertheless, the Jewish presence in [[Palestine]] remained constant. The main Jewish population shifted from the [[Judea]] region to the [[Galilee]]. The [[Mishnah]] and [[Jerusalem Talmud]], two of Judaism's most important religious texts, were composed in the region during this period. The land was conquered from the [[Byzantine Empire]] in 638&nbsp;[[Common Era|CE]] during the initial [[Muslim conquests]]. The [[Hebrew alphabet|Hebrew]] [[niqqud]] was invented in [[Tiberias]] during this time. The area was ruled by the [[Omayyads]], then by the [[Abbasids]], [[Crusader states|Crusaders]], the [[Kharezmians]] and [[Mongols]], before becoming part of the empire of the [[Mamluks]] (1260-1516) and the [[Ottoman Empire]] in 1517.
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===Zionism and immigration===
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{{main|Zionism|Aliyah}}
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Jews living in the [[Jewish diaspora|Diaspora]] have sought to emigrate into Israel throughout the centuries. For example, in 1141 [[Yehuda Halevi]] issued a call to the Jews to emigrate to Eretz Israel and eventually died in Jerusalem. In 1267, [[Nahmanides]] settled in Jerusalem and since then a continual Jewish presence in Jerusalem has been maintained. [[Yosef Karo]] immigrated to the large Jewish community in [[Safed]] in 1535. Waves of immigration also occurred, for example in the years 1209-1211, the "aliyah of the Rabbis of France and England" to [[Acre, Israel|Acre]] became famous as in 1258 and 1266. In 1260, [[Yechiel of Paris]] emigrated to Acre along with his son and a large group of followers. Small waves of immigration occurred during the 18th century out of religious motives, famously [[Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk]] and 300 of his followers, [[Judah he-Hasid (Jerusalem)|Judah he-Hasid]] and over 1000 disciples, and over five hundred disciples (and their families) of the [[Vilna Gaon]] known as [[Perushim]]. Waves of rabbinical students immigrated in 1808-1809, settling in [[Tiberias]], [[Safed]] and then in [[Jerusalem]].<ref>Benzion Dinur, "The Messianic Fermentation and Immigration to the Land of Israel from the Crusades until the Black Death, and Their Ideological Roots," in Benzion Dinur, Historical Writings (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1975), vol. ii. , Elhanan Reiner, Pilgrims and Pilgrimage to the Land of Israel, 1099-1517, doctoral dissertation, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1988.</ref>
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In 1860, the old Jewish community in Jerusalem started building neighborhoods outside the walls of the Old City (the first one being [[Mishkenot Sha’ananim]]). In 1878, the first modern agricultural settlement was founded in the form of [[Petah Tikva]].
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The first big wave of modern immigration to Israel, or ''Aliyah'' (<big>עלייה</big>) started in 1881 as Jews fled growing persecution, or followed the [[Socialist]] [[Zionism|Zionist]] ideas of [[Moses Hess]] and others of "redemption of the soil." Jews bought land from individual Arab landholders. After Jews established agricultural settlements, tensions erupted between the Jews and Arabs.
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[[Theodor Herzl]] (1860–1904), an [[Austro-Hungary|Austro-Hungarian]] Jew, founded the [[Zionist movement]]. In 1896, he published ''[[Der Judenstaat]]'' (''The Jewish State''), in which he called for the establishment of a national Jewish state. The following year he helped convene the first [[World Zionist Congress]].
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The establishment of Zionism led to the [[Aliyah#Second Aliyah (1904-1914)|Second Aliyah (1904–1914)]] with the influx of around forty thousand Jews. In 1917, the British Foreign Secretary [[Arthur Balfour|Arthur J. Balfour]] issued the [[Balfour Declaration of 1917|Balfour Declaration]] that "view[ed] with favour the establishment in [[Palestine]] of a national home for the Jewish people." In [[1920]], Palestine became a [[League of Nations]] [[British Mandate of Palestine|mandate administered by Britain]].
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Jewish immigration resumed in [[Aliyah#Third Aliyah (1919-1923)|third (1919–1923)]] and [[Aliyah#Fourth Aliyah (1924-1929)|fourth (1924–1929)]] waves after [[World War I]]. In a [[1929 Palestine massacre|massacre in 1929]], 133 Jews, including 67 in [[Hebron]] were killed and 116 Arabs were killed in the [[1929 Palestine riots|riots]].
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The rise of [[Nazism]] in 1933 led to a [[Aliyah#Fifth Aliyah (1929-1939)|fifth wave of Aliyah]]. The subsequent [[Holocaust]] in Europe led to [[Aliyah#Aliyah Bet: Illegal immigration (1933-1948)|additional immigration]] from other parts of Europe. The Jewish population in the region increased from 83,790 (11%) in 1922 to 608,230 (33%) in 1945.<ref>1922 census and 1945 survey figures [http://www.mideastweb.org/palpop.htm]</ref>
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In 1939, the British introduced a [[White Paper of 1939]], which limited Jewish immigration over the course of the war to 75,000 and restricted purchase of land by Jews, perhaps in response to the [[1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine]]. The White Paper was seen as a betrayal by the Jewish community and Zionists, who perceived it as being in conflict with the [[Balfour Declaration of 1917|Balfour Declaration]]. The Arabs were not entirely satisfied either, as they wanted Jewish immigration halted completely. However, the White Paper guided British policy until the end of the term of their Mandate. As a result, many Jews fleeing to Palestine to avoid Nazi persecution and the [[Holocaust]] were intercepted and returned to Europe. Two specific examples of this policy involved the ships ''[[Struma]]'' and [[Exodus (ship)|''Exodus'']] (carrying Holocaust survivors in [[1947]]).<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.israeltoday.co.il/Default.aspx?tabid=139&view=item&idx=726 |title=WHITE PAPER |publisher=[www.IsraelToday.co.il] |date=2005-10-09 |accessdate=2006-10-08}}</ref>
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Attempts by Jews to circumvent the blockade and flee Europe became known as [[Aliya Beth]].
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{{see also|Jewish refugees|1922 Text: League of Nations Palestine Mandate}}
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===Jewish underground groups===
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{{main|British Mandate of Palestine}}
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As tensions grew between the Jewish and Arab populations and Arab attacks on Jews increased, and with little apparent support from the British mandate authorities, the Jewish community began to rely on itself for defense.
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[[Image:Hagardom.jpeg|thumb|right|Monument in [[Ramat Gan]] commemorating the rebels hanged by the British.]]
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Many Arabs, opposed to the Balfour Declaration, the mandate, and the Jewish National Home, instigated riots and [[pogroms]] against Jews in Jerusalem, Hebron, Jaffa, and Haifa. As a result of the 1921 Arab attacks, the [[Haganah]] was formed to protect Jewish settlements. The Haganah was mostly defensive in nature, which among other things caused several members to split off and form the militant group [[Irgun]] (initially known as [[Hagana Bet]]) in 1931. The Irgun adhered to a much more active approach, which included attacks and initiation of armed actions against the British, such as attacking British military headquarters, the [[King David Hotel]], which killed 91 people. Haganah, on the other hand, often preferred restraint. A further split occurred when [[Avraham Stern]] left the Irgun to form [[Lehi (group)|Lehi]], (also known as the ''Stern Gang'') which was much more extreme in its methods. Unlike the Irgun, they refused any co-operation with the British during [[World War II]] and even attempted to work with the [[Germany|German]]s to secure European Jewry's escape to Palestine.
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These groups had an enormous impact on events and procedures in the period preceding the [[1948 Arab-Israeli War]], such as [[Aliya Beth]] (the clandestine immigration from Europe), the forming of the [[Israel Defense Forces]], and the withdrawal of the British, as well as to a great degree forming the foundation of the [[Politics of Israel|political parties]] which exist in Israel today.  After the war, then Prime Minister [[David Ben-Gurion]] set about establishing order by dismantling the [[Palmach]] and underground organizations like the [[Irgun]] and [[Lehi (group)|Lehi]].
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===Establishment of the State of Israel===
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[[Image:Declaration of State of Israel 1948.jpg|thumb|180px|[[David Ben-Gurion|Ben-Gurion]] pronounces the [[Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel]] on [[May 14]] [[1948]] in [[Tel Aviv]].]]
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{{main|Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel}}
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In 1947, following increasing levels of Arab-Jewish violence and general war-weariness, the British government decided to withdraw from the [[British Mandate of Palestine|Palestine Mandate]].<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.jewishagency.org/JewishAgency/English/Jewish+Education/Eye+on+Israel/British+Rule |title=British Rule (see "The Termination of the British Mandate") |publisher=[[Jewish Agency for Israel]] |accessdate=2006-10-02}}</ref> Jewish nationalism and messianism led to [[Zionism]], a movement to re-create a Jewish nation in the [[Land of Israel]]. Jewish immigration grew steadily after the late nineteenth century and took on added meaning, and gained added external support, in the wake of the [[Holocaust]]. The [[United Nations General Assembly|UN General Assembly]] approved the [[1947 UN Partition Plan]] dividing the territory into two states, with the Jewish area consisting of roughly 55% of the land, and the Arab area consisting of roughly 45%. [[Jerusalem]] was to be designated as an international region administered by the UN to avoid conflict over its status.
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Immediately following the adoption of the Partition Plan by the UN General Assembly on [[November 29]], [[1947]], [[David Ben-Gurion]] tentatively accepted the partition, while the [[Arab League]] rejected it. The Arab Higher Committee immediately ordered a violent three-day [[1947 Jerusalem riots|strike]] on Jewish civilians, attacking buildings, shops, and neighborhoods, and prompting insurgency organized by underground Jewish militias like the [[Stern Gang|Lehi]] and [[Irgun]]. These attacks soon turned into widespread fighting between Arabs and Jews, this civil war being the first "phase" of the 1948 War of Independence.<ref>[http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/myths/mf4.html#a Myth & Facts - The War of 1948]</ref>
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The State of Israel was proclaimed on [[May 14]] [[1948]], one day before the expiry of the [[British Mandate of Palestine|Palestine Mandate]]. Israel was admitted as a member of the [[United Nations]] on [[May 11]], [[1949]].
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===1948 War of Independence and migration===
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{{main|1948 Arab-Israeli War}}
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{{see also|Jewish exodus from Arab lands|Palestinian exodus|Arab-Israeli conflict}}
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Following the State of Israel's establishment, the armies of [[Egypt]], [[Iraq]], [[Jordan]], [[Syria]] and [[Lebanon]] declared war on Israel and began the second phase of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. From the north, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq were all but stopped relatively close to the borders. Jordanian forces, invading from the east, captured East [[Jerusalem]] and laid siege on the city's west. However, forces of the [[Haganah]] successfully stopped most invading forces, and [[Irgun]] forces halted Egyptian encroachment from the south. At the beginning of June, the [[UN]] declared a one-month ceasefire during which the [[Israel Defense Forces]] were officially formed. After numerous months of war, a ceasefire was declared in 1949 and temporary borders, known as the [[Green Line (Israel)|Green Line]], were instituted. Israel had gained an additional 23.5% of the Mandate territory west of the [[Jordan River]].<ref name=LATimesOnSizeOfPalestine>{{cite news |title=The incredible shrinking Palestine |source=The Los Angeles Times |url=http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-op-tolan21may21,0,5050089.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions}}</ref>
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Jordan, for its part, held the large mountainous areas of [[Judea]] and [[Samaria]], which became known as the [[West Bank]]. Egypt took control of a small strip of land along the coast, which became known as the [[Gaza Strip]].
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Large numbers of the Arab population fled the newly-created Jewish State during the [[Palestinian exodus]], which is referred to by many Palestinian groups and individuals as the ''Nakba'' ([[Arabic language|Arabic]]:<big> النكبة </big>), meaning "disaster" or "cataclysm". Estimates of the final Palestinian refugee count range from 400,000 to 900,000 with the official United Nations count at 711,000.<ref name="un">[http://domino.un.org/unispal.nsf/9a798adbf322aff38525617b006d88d7/93037e3b939746de8525610200567883!OpenDocument General Progress Report and Supplementary Report of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, Covering the Period from 11 December 1949 to 23 October 1950], published by the [[United Nations Conciliation Commission]], [[October 23]] [[1950]]. (U.N. General Assembly Official Records, Fifth Session, Supplement No. 18, Document A/1367/Rev. 1)</ref> The unresolved conflict between Israel and the Arab world that persists to this day has resulted in a lasting displacement of Palestinian refugees.
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In addition, the entire Jewish population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip also fled to Israel. Within a year of 1948 war, immigration of Jewish refugees from Arab lands doubled Israel's population. Over the following years approximately 850,000 [[Sephardi Jews|Sephardi]] and [[Mizrahi Jews]] fled or were expelled from surrounding Arab countries. Of these, about 600,000 settled in Israel; the remainder went to Europe and the Americas (see [[Jewish exodus from Arab lands]]).
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===1950s and 1960s===
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[[Image:Eichmann2.jpg|right|thumb|Nazi war criminal [[Adolf Eichmann]] in a bulletproof glass booth during the open trial in 1961.]]
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Between 1954 and 1955, under [[Moshe Sharett]] as prime minister, the [[Lavon Affair]] &ndash; a failed attempt to bomb targets in [[Egypt]] &ndash; caused political disgrace in Israel. Compounding this, in 1956, Egypt nationalized the [[Suez Canal]], much to the chagrin of the [[United Kingdom]] and [[France]]. Following this and a series of [[Fedayeen]] attacks, Israel created a secret military alliance with those two European powers and declared war on Egypt. After the [[Suez Crisis]], the three collaborators faced international condemnation, and Israel was forced to withdraw its forces from the [[Sinai Peninsula]].
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In 1955, [[Ben-Gurion]] once again became prime minister and served as such until his final resignation in 1963. After Ben-Gurion's resignation, [[Levi Eshkol]] was appointed to the post.
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In 1961, the [[Nazi]] [[war criminal]] [[Adolf Eichmann]], who had been largely responsible for the [[Final Solution]], the planned extermination of the [[Jew]]s of Europe, was captured in [[Buenos Aires]], [[Argentina]], by Mossad agents and brought to trial in Israel. Eichmann became the only person ever sentenced to death by the Israeli courts.
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[[Image:Western Wall - by Jacob Rask.jpg|thumb|250px|right|[[Western Wall]]]]
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On the political field, tensions once again arose between Israel and her neighbors in May 1967. Syria, Jordan, and Egypt had been hinting at war<ref> Michael B. Oren, ''Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East''</ref> and Egypt expelled [[Timeline of UN peacekeeping missions|UN Peacekeeping Forces]] from the [[Gaza Strip]]. When Egypt violated prior treaties and closed the strategic [[Straits of Tiran]] to Israeli vessels, and began massing large amounts of tanks and aircraft on Israel's borders, Israel deemed it a ''[[casus belli]]'' for pre-emptively attacking Egypt on [[June 5]].  In the ensuing [[Six-Day War]] between Israel and its Arab neighbors, Israel defeated the armies of three large Arab states and won a decisive victory over their [[air force]]s. Territorially, Israel conquered the [[West Bank]], Gaza Strip, [[Sinai Peninsula]], and [[Golan Heights]]. The [[Green Line (Israel)|Green Line]] of 1949 became the administrative boundary between Israel and the [[Occupied Territories]]. The Sinai was later returned to Egypt following the signing of a peace treaty.
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During the war, Israeli aircraft [[USS Liberty incident|attacked the USS ''Liberty'']], killing thirty-four American servicemen. American and Israeli investigations into the incident concluded that the attack was a tragic accident involving confusion over the identity of the [[USS Liberty (AGTR-5)|''Liberty'']].
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In 1969, [[Golda Meir]], Israel's first (and, to date, only) female prime minister was elected.
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{{see also|Positions on Jerusalem|Jerusalem Law|Golan Heights|Israeli-occupied territories}}
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===1970s===
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Between 1968 and 1972, a period known as the [[War of Attrition]], numerous scuffles erupted along the border between Israel and Syria and Egypt. Furthermore, in the early 1970s, [[Palestinian political violence|Palestinian groups]] embarked on an unprecedented wave of attacks against Israel and [[Jewish]] targets in other countries. The climax of this wave occurred at the [[1972 Munich Olympic Games]], when, in the [[Munich massacre]], Palestinian militants held hostage and killed members of the Israeli delegation. Israel responded with [[Operation Wrath of God]], in which agents of [[Mossad]] assassinated most of those who were involved in the massacre.
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Finally, on [[October 6]] [[1973]], the day in 1973 of the Jewish [[Yom Kippur]] fast, the Egyptian and Syrian armies launched a surprise attack against Israel. Despite early successes against an unprepared Israeli army, Egypt and Syria were eventually repelled by the Israeli forces. A number of years of relative calm ensued, which fostered the environment in which Israel and Egypt could make peace.
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In 1974, [[Yitzhak Rabin]], with Meir's resignation, became Israel's fifth prime minister. A major turning point in Israeli political history came in the [[Israeli legislative election, 1977|1977 Knesset elections]], when the [[Alignment (political party)|Alignment]], which together with its predecessor [[Mapai]] had been the ruling party since 1948, was beaten by [[Menachem Begin]]'s [[Likud]], an event that became known in Israel as the "revolution".
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Then, in November of that year, Egyptian President [[Anwar Sadat]], making a historic visit to the Jewish State, spoke before the [[Knesset]]: the first recognition of Israel by its Arab neighbors. Military reserves officers formed the [[Peace Now]] movement to encourage this effort. Following the visit, the two nations conducted negotiations which led to the signing of the [[Camp David Accords]]. In March 1979, Begin and Sadat signed the [[Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty]] in [[Washington, DC]]. As laid out in the treaty, Israel withdrew from the [[Sinai Peninsula]] and evacuated the settlements established there during the 1970s. It was also agreed to lend [[Autonomous area|autonomy]] to [[Palestinians]] across the [[Green Line]].
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{{see also|War of Attrition|Munich Massacre|Yom Kippur War|Anwar Sadat|Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty}}
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===1980s===
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[[Image:Ilan Ramon.jpg|thumb|160px|right|[[Ilan Ramon]] participated in [[Operation Opera]] and later became the first Israeli [[astronaut]].]]
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On [[July 7]] [[1981]], the [[Israeli Air Force]] bombed the Iraqi [[nuclear reactor]] at [[Osiraq]] in an attempt to foil Iraqi efforts at producing an [[atomic bomb]]. This operation was known as [[Operation Opera]].
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In 1982, Israel [[1982 invasion of Lebanon|launched an attack]] against [[Lebanon]], which had been embroiled in the [[Lebanese Civil War]] since 1975. The reason Israel gave for the attack was to defend Israel's northernmost settlements from terrorist attacks, which had been occurring frequently. After establishing a forty-kilometer barrier zone, the [[Israel Defense Forces|IDF]] continued northward and even captured the capital, [[Beirut]]. Israeli forces expelled [[Palestinian Liberation Organization]] forces from the country, forcing the organization to relocate to [[Tunis]]. Unable to deal with the stress of the ongoing war, Prime Minister [[Menachem Begin|Begin]] resigned from his post in 1983 and was replaced by [[Yitzhak Shamir]]. Though Israel withdrew from most of Lebanon in 1986, a [[Israeli Security Zone|buffer zone]] was maintained until May 2000 when Israel unilaterally withdrew from Lebanon.
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Through the rest of the 1980s, the government shifted from the right, led by [[Yitzhak Shamir]], to the left under [[Shimon Peres]]. Peres was prime minister from 1984, but handed the position over to Shamir in 1986 under an agreement reached following the creation of the unity coalition in the aftermath of the [[Israeli legislative election, 1984|1984 elections]]. The [[First Intifadah]] then broke out in 1987 and was accompanied by waves of violence in the [[Occupied Territories]]. Following the outbreak, Shamir once again was elected prime minister, in the [[Israeli legislative election, 1988|1988 elections]].
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{{see also|1982 Lebanon War|Lebanese Civil War|PLO}}
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===1990s===
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During the [[Gulf War]], [[Iraq]] hit Israel with thirty-nine [[Scud]] missiles, although Israel was not a member of the anti-Iraq coalition and was not involved in the fighting. The missiles did not kill Israeli citizens directly, but there were some deaths from incorrect use of the gas masks provided against chemical attack, one Israeli died from a [[heart attack]] following a hit, and one Israeli died from a [[Patriot missile]] hit. During the war, Israel also provided gas masks for the Palestinians in the [[West Bank]] and [[Gaza]].<ref>[http://72.14.221.104/search?q=cache:W5GxcejzitQJ:www.nevo.co.il/Psika_word/kitvey/0106758-kt.doc+%D7%9E%D7%A1%D7%9B%D7%95%D7%AA+%D7%92%D7%96+%D7%91%D7%A9%D7%98%D7%97%D7%99%D7%9D&hl=iw&gl=il&ct=clnk&cd=9&client=firefox-a|High Court ruling] Israeli High Court of Justice ruling mentioning how it enforced handing masks to all Palestinians during the [[Gulf War]] as a principle of equality.</ref> The PLO, however, supported [[Saddam Hussein]].<ref> Mideast Mirror, August 6, 1990.</ref> Palestinians in the [[West Bank]] and [[Gaza]] marched and famously stood on their rooftops while Scud missiles were falling and cheered [[Saddam Hussein]] calling for him to bomb Israel with chemical weapons.<ref> Associated Press, August 12, 1990.</ref><ref> [http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/pages/ShArtPE.jhtml?itemNo=742910&contrassID=2&subContrassID=21&sbSubContrassID=0|Haaretz article] An article in ''Ha'aretz'' discussing Palestinian support for Nasrallah, mentioning that Saddam captivated the hearts of the Palestinians in the 1990s through his goal of eradicating Israel.</ref><ref> [http://www.nrg.co.il/online/archive/ART/271/591.html An article in ''Ma'ariv''] discussing an Israel-wide demonstration by Arabs citing their Gulf War song "Ya Saddam Ya Habib" ("Destroy Tel Aviv").</ref><ref>[http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3346342,00.html 
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Palestinians on Saddam: We lost a leader] "PA residents reminisced over the Gulf War, when dozens of Scud missiles were launched at Israel . The missiles, which landed in the center of the country in 1991, were accompanied by celebrations and chants: "Saddam, strike Tel Aviv."</ref> Ultimately, Palestinians also used the gas masks against Israeli use of [[tear gas]] in the coming years.<ref> [http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/1,7340,L-2099554,00.html] ''Yediot Ahronot'' article: Israeli Deputy Minister of Defense says that in case Israel is 100% sure of another Iraqi attack (in 2002), gas masks will be provided for the Palestinians.</ref>
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The early 1990s were marked by the beginning of a massive [[Aliyah|immigration]] of Soviet Jews, who, according to the [[Law of Return]], were entitled to become Israeli citizens upon arrival. About 380,000 arrived in 1990-91 alone. Although initially favouring the right, the new immigrants became the target of an aggressive election campaign by [[Labor (Israel)|Labor]], which blamed their employment and housing problems on the ruling [[Likud]]. As a result, in the [[Israeli legislative election, 1992|1992 elections]] the immigrants voted ''en masse'' for Labor, allowing the left to emerge victorious.
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Following the elections, [[Yitzhak Rabin]] became prime minister, forming a coalition with [[Meretz-Yachad|Meretz]] and [[Shas]]. During the election campaign his Labor party promised Israelis a significant improvement in personal security and achievement of a comprehensive peace with the Arabs "within six to nine months" after the elections. By the end of 1993 the government abandoned the framework of [[Madrid Conference of 1991|Madrid]] and signed the [[Oslo Accords]] with the [[Palestine Liberation Organization|PLO]]. In 1994, [[Jordan]] became the second of Israel's neighbours to make peace with it.
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[[Image:Rabins' Grave.JPG|thumb|[[Yitzhak Rabin]] is buried on [[Mount Herzl]] in [[Jerusalem]].]]
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The initial wide public support for the Oslo Accords began to wane as Israel was struck by an unprecedented wave of attacks supported by the militant [[Hamas]] group, which opposed the accords. Public support slipped even further. On November 4, 1995, a Jewish nationalist militant named [[Yigal Amir]] [[Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin|assassinated Rabin]].
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Public dismay with the assassination created a backlash against Oslo opponents and significantly boosted the chances of [[Shimon Peres]], Rabin's successor and Oslo architect, to win the upcoming [[Israeli legislative election, 1996|1996 elections]]. However, a new wave of suicide bombings combined with Arafat's statements extolling the Muslim nationalist militant [[Yahya Ayyash]], made the public mood swing once again and in May 1996 Peres narrowly lost to his challenger from [[Likud]], [[Benjamin Netanyahu]].
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Although seen as a hard-liner opposing the Oslo Accords, Netanyahu withdrew from [[Hebron]] and signed the [[Wye River Memorandum]] giving wider control to the [[Palestinian National Authority]]. During Netanyahu's tenure, Israel experienced a lull in attacks against Israel's civilian population by Palestinian groups, but his government fell in 1999. [[Ehud Barak]] of [[One Israel]] (an alliance of [[Labor (Israel)|Labor]], [[Meimad]] and [[Gesher (political party)|Gesher]]) beat Netanyahu by a wide margin in the [[Israeli legislative election, 1999|1999 elections]] and succeeded him as prime minister.
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{{see also|Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace}}
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===2000s===
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Barak initiated unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. This process was intended to frustrate [[Hezbollah]] attacks on Israel by forcing them to cross Israel's border. Barak and [[Yassir Arafat]] once again conducted negotiations with [[President Clinton]] at the [[Camp David 2000 Summit|July 2000 Camp David summit]]. However, the talks failed. Barak offered to form a [[Palestinian State]] initially on 73% of the West Bank and 100% of the Gaza Strip. In ten to twenty-five years, the West Bank area would expand to 90% (94% excluding greater Jerusalem).[http://www.mideastweb.org/campdavid2.htm] [http://www.mideastweb.org/campdavid%20orient.htm] Arafat rejected this deal.
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The thrust of the [[Gaza]] departure and of the security barrier, [[Gilady]] said in a rare interview two months ago, was the opposite of that which impelled the 1993 [[Oslo Accords]]. The Oslo architects believed a peace treaty would bring security. That notion exploded with the outbreak of the [[intifada]] in September 2000. Under the [[Sharon]] strategy, Gilady told the [[Jerusalem Post]], security would lead to peace, not the other way around.
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After the collapse of the talks, Palestinians began a second uprising, known as the [[Al-Aqsa Intifadah]], just after the leader of the opposition [[Ariel Sharon]] visited the [[Temple Mount]] in [[Jerusalem]]. The failure of the talks and the outbreak of a new war caused many Israelis on both the right and the left to turn away from Barak, and also discredited the peace movement.
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[[Image:Jerusalem kotel mosque.jpg|thumb|The Temple Mount in Jerusalem.]]
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[[Ariel Sharon]] became the new prime minister in March 2001 in a [[Israeli prime ministerial election, 2001|special election for Prime Minister]], and was subsequently re-elected, along with his [[Likud]] party in the [[Israeli legislative election, 2003|2003 elections]]. Sharon initiated a plan to unilaterally withdraw from the [[Gaza Strip]]. This [[Israel's unilateral disengagement plan|disengagement]] was executed between August and September 2005.
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+
Israel also is building the [[Israeli West Bank Barrier]] with the stated purpose of defending the country from attacks by armed Palestinian groups. Because the barrier, which is planned to measure 681 kilometers, meanders past the [[Green Line (Israel)|Green Line]], effectively annexes 9.5% of the West Bank, and creates hardships for Palestinians living near it,<ref name="B'Tselem">[http://www.btselem.org/english/Separation_Barrier/Statistics.asp B'Tselem] separation barrier statistics</ref> it has been met with criticism from the international community and numerous protest demonstrations by the Israeli far-left. It has, however, significantly reduced the number of terrorist attacks against Israel.<ref>http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/media/makovsky/makovsky020504.pdf &#91;1, p56&#93;</ref>
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After [[Ariel Sharon]] suffered a severe [[hemorrhagic stroke]], the powers of the office were passed to [[Ehud Olmert]], who was designated the "Acting" Prime Minister. On [[April 14]], [[2006]], Olmert was elected Prime Minister after his party, [[Kadima]], Hebrew for "Forward", won the most seats in the [[Israel legislative election, 2006|2006 elections]].
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On [[June 28]], [[2006]], [[Hamas]] militants dug a tunnel under the [[Israeli Gaza Strip barrier|border]] from the [[Gaza Strip]] and attacked an [[Israel Defense Forces|IDF]] post, capturing an Israeli soldier and killing two others. In response, Israel began [[Operation Summer Rains]], which consisted of heavy bombardment of [[Hamas]] targets as well as bridges, roads, and the only power station in Gaza. Israel has also deployed troops into the territory. Israel’s critics have accused it of disproportionate use of force and [[collective punishment]] of innocent civilians and not giving [[diplomacy]] a chance. Israel argues that they have no other option to get their soldier back and put an end to the rocket attacks into Israel, although the soldiers were not recovered.
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The [[2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict]] refers to the military conflict in [[Lebanon]] and northern Israel, primarily between [[Hezbollah]] and Israel, which started on [[12 July]] [[2006]]. The conflict began with a cross-border Hezbollah raid and shelling, which resulted in the capture of two and killing of eight Israeli soldiers. Israel held the Lebanese government responsible for the attack, as it was carried out from Lebanese territory, and initiated an air and naval [[blockade]], [[airstrike]]s across much of the country, and ground incursions into [[southern Lebanon]]. Hezbollah continuously launched rocket attacks into northern Israel and engaged the Israeli Army on the ground with hit-and-run guerrilla attacks. A ceasefire came into effect at 05:00 [[Coordinated Universal Time|UTC]], [[14 August]] [[2006]], although violations of the ceasefire have occurred from both sides. The conflict killed over one thousand Lebanese civilians,<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.usaid.gov/locations/asia_near_east/middle_east/ |title=Humanitarian Assistance to Lebanon |accessdate=2006-09-03 |date=[[1 September]] [[2006]] |publisher=[[United States Agency for International Development]] Disaster Assistance}}</ref> 440 Hezbollah militants, and 119 Israeli soldiers,<ref name="MFA">{{cite news |url=http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-+Obstacle+to+Peace/Terrorism+from+Lebanon-+Hizbullah/Israel-Hizbullah+conflict-+Victims+of+rocket+attacks+and+IDF+casualties+July-Aug+2006.htm |title=Israel-Hizbullah conflict: Victims of rocket attacks and IDF casualties |publisher=Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs}}</ref> as well as forty-four Israeli civilians,<ref name="MFA">{{cite news
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|url=http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-+Obstacle+to+Peace/Terrorism+from+Lebanon-+Hizbullah/Israel-Hizbullah+conflict-+Victims+of+rocket+attacks+and+IDF+casualties+July-Aug+2006.htm |title=Israel-Hizbullah conflict: Victims of rocket attacks and IDF casualties |publisher=Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs}}</ref> and caused massive damage to the civilian infrastructure and cities of Lebanon and damaged thousands of buildings across northern Israel, many of which were completely destroyed.<ref name="warinnums">{{cite web |url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-6022211,00.html |title=Mideast War, by the numbers |publisher=Guardian / Associated Press |date=[[2006-08-18]] |accessdate=2006-08-25}}</ref><ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.jcpa.org/brief/brief006-10.htm |title=Hizballah's Rocket Campaign Against Northern Israel: A Preliminary Report |publisher=Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs |date=[[2006-08-31]] |accessdate=2006-09-08}}</ref><ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.sviva.gov.il/Enviroment/bin/en.jsp?enPage=e_BlankPage&enDisplay=view&enDispWhat=Object&enDispWho=News^l3120&enZone=e_news |title=Assessing the Environmental Costs of the War in the North - Summer 2006 |publisher=Ministry of Environmental Protection |date=[[2006-08-30]] |accessdate=2006-09-14}}</ref>
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==Geography and climate==
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[[Image:Israel and occupied territories map.png|thumb|195px|Political map of Israel, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights (highlighted in green) and neighboring countries.]]
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[[Image:Southeast mediterranean annotated geography.jpg|thumb|left|150px|Principal geographical features of Israel and south-eastern Mediterranean region]]
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{{main|Geography of Israel}}
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Israel is bordered by [[Lebanon]] in the north, [[Syria]] and [[Jordan]] in the east, and [[Egypt]] in the south-west. It has [[coastal|coastlines]] on the [[Mediterranean Sea|Mediterranean]] in the west and the [[Headlands and bays|Gulf]] of [[Eilat]] (also known as the [[Gulf of Aqaba]]) in the south.
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During the [[Six-Day War]] of 1967, Israel captured the West Bank from the Hashemite Kingdom of [[Jordan]], the [[Golan Heights]] from Syria, Gaza Strip (which was under Egyptian occupation), and [[sinai peninsula|Sinai]] from [[Egypt]]. It withdrew all [[Israeli Security Forces|troops]] and [[Israeli settlement|settlers]] from Sinai by 1982 and [[Israel's unilateral disengagement plan|from the Gaza Strip]] by [[September 12]] [[2005]]. The future [[Palestine (region)#Current status|status]] of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip remains to be determined. [[East Jerusalem]] has been under Israeli civil law, jurisdiction and administration since 1967<ref>[http://www.fmep.org/reports/special_reports/no01-february1994/01-jerusalem_at_glance.html Israel effectively annexes East Jerusalem]]</ref> and the Golan Heights since 1981, though they have not been formally annexed.
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The sovereign territory of Israel, excluding all territories captured by Israel in 1967, is 20,770&nbsp;km² (8,019&nbsp;[[Square mile|mi²]]) in area (1% is water). The total area under Israeli law, including [[East Jerusalem]] and the [[Golan Heights]], is 22,145&nbsp;km² or 8,550&nbsp;mi²; with a little less than one per cent being water. The total area under Israeli control, including the military-controlled and [[Palestinian National Authority|Palestinian]]-governed territory of the [[West Bank]], is 28,023&nbsp;km² (10,820&nbsp;mi²) (~1% water).
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The climate of the coastal areas can be very different from that of the mountainous areas, particularly during the winter months. The northern mountains can get cold, wet and often snowy and even [[Jerusalem]] experiences snow every couple of years. The coastal regions, where [[Tel Aviv]] and [[Haifa]] are located, have a typical Mediterranean climate with cool, rainy winters and hot, dry summers.
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===Metropolitan areas===
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{{see also|Districts of Israel|List of cities in Israel}}
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As of 2006, the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics defines three metropolitan areas: [[Gush Dan|Tel Aviv]] (population 3,040,400), [[Haifa]] (population 996,000) and [[Beersheba]] (population 531,600)[http://www1.cbs.gov.il/shnaton57/st02_15.pdf]. The capital, [[Jerusalem]], has a population of 719,900. The [http://www.jiis.org.il Jerusalem Institute of Israel Studies] defines the metropolitan area Jerusalem (population 2,300,000, including 700,000 Jews and 1,600,000 Arabs)[http://www.jiis.org.il/content.asp?articleID=40].
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==Government==
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{{main|Politics of Israel}}<!--Please add new information to relevant articles of the series-->
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Israel is a [[Democracy|democratic]] [[republic]] with [[universal suffrage]] that operates under a [[parliamentary system]].
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===Legislature===
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[[Image:Knesset in Jerusalem Israel.jpg|thumb|180px|The [[Knesset]] building, Israel's parliament.]]
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Israel's [[Unicameralism|unicameral]] legislative branch is a 120-member [[parliament]] known as the [[Knesset]]. Membership in the Knesset is allocated to parties based on their proportion of the vote, via a [[proportional representation]] voting system. Elections to the [[Knesset]] are normally held every four years, but the Knesset can decide to dissolve itself ahead of time by a simple majority, known as a vote of no-confidence. Twelve parties currently hold seats.
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{{see also|List of political parties in Israel}}
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===Executive===
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The [[President of Israel]] is [[Head of State]], serving as a largely ceremonial [[figurehead]]. The President selects the leader of the majority party or ruling coalition in the Knesset as the [[Prime Minister of Israel|Prime Minister]], who serves as [[head of government]] and leads the [[Cabinet of Israel|Cabinet]].<ref name="1990s">For a short period in the 1990s, the Prime Minister was directly elected by the electorate. This change was not viewed a success and was abandoned.</ref> The current President is [[Moshe Katsav]], though the acting President is [[Dalia Itzik]]; the current Prime Minister is [[Ehud Olmert]].
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===Legal system===
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Israel has not completed a written [[constitution]]. Its government functions according to the laws of the [[Knesset]], including the "[[Basic Laws of Israel]]", of which there are presently fourteen. These are slated to become the foundation of a future official constitution. In mid-2003, the Knesset's Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee began drafting an official constitution.<ref> Steven Mazie, ''Israel's Higher Law: Religion and Liberal Democracy in the Jewish State'' (Lexington Books, 2006), chapter 2.</ref> The effort is still underway as of early 2007.<ref name="cfi">{{cite web |url=http://www.cfisrael.org |title=Constitution for Israel |accessdate=2006-04-08}}</ref>
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Israel's legal system mixes influences from Anglo-American, Continental and Jewish law, as well as the [[Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, May 14, 1948|declaration of the State of Israel]].
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As in Anglo-American law, the Israeli legal system is based on the principle of ''[[stare decisis]]'' (precedent). It is an [[adversarial system]], not an [[Inquisitorial system|inquisitorial]] one, in the sense that the parties (for example, plaintiff and defendant) are the ones that bring the evidence before the court. The court does not conduct any independent investigation on the case.
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As in Continental legal systems, the [[jury]] system was not adopted in Israel. Court cases are decided by professional [[judge]]s. Additional Continental Law influences can be found in the fact that several major Israeli statutes (such as the Contract Law) are based on Civil Law principles. Israeli statute body is not comprised of Codes, but of individual statutes. However, a Civil Code draft has been completed recently, and is planned to become a bill.
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Religious tribunals ([[Beth din|Jewish]], [[Shari'a|Muslim]], Druze and Christian) have exclusive jurisdiction on annulment of marriages.
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===Judiciary===
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[[Image:SupremeCourtIsrael ST 06.jpg|thumb|180px|Frontal view of [[Supreme Court of Israel|The Supreme Court]] building.]]
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Israel's Judiciary branch is made of a three-tier system of courts. At the lowest level are Magistrate Courts, situated in most cities. Above them are District Courts, serving both as [[Appeal|appellate]] courts and as courts of first instance, situated in five cities: [[Jerusalem]], [[Tel Aviv]], [[Haifa]], [[Be'er Sheva]] and [[Nazareth]].
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At the top of the judicial pyramid is the [[Supreme Court of Israel]] seated in Jerusalem. The current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is [[Dorit Beinisch]]. The Supreme Court serves a dual role as the highest court of appeals and as the body for a separate institution known as the [[High Court of Justice (Israel)|High Court of Justice]] (HCOJ). The HCOJ has the unique responsibility of addressing petitions presented to the Court by individual citizens. The respondents to these petitions are usually governmental agencies (including the [[Israel Defense Forces]]). The result of such petitions, which are decided by the HCOJ, may be an instruction by the HCOJ to the relevant Governmental agency to act in a manner prescribed by the HCOJ.
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A committee composed of Knesset members, Supreme Court Justices, and Israeli Bar members carries out the election of judges. The Courts Law requires judges to retire at the age of seventy. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, with the approval of the Minister of Justice, appoints registrars to all courts.
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Israel is not a member of the [[International Criminal Court]] as it fears it could lead to prosecution of Israeli settlers in the disputed territories.
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==Military==
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{{main|Israeli Defence Forces}}
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Israel's military consists of a unified [[Israel Defense Forces]] (IDF), known in [[Hebrew language|Hebrew]] by the acronym ''Tzahal'' (<big>צה"ל</big>). Historically, there have been no separate Israeli military services. The Navy and [[Israeli Air Force|Air Force]] are subordinate to the Army. There are other paramilitary agencies that deal with different aspects of Israel's security (such as ''[[Israel Border Police|Magav]]'' and ''[[Shin Bet]]''). The IDF was based on paramilitary underground armies, chiefly [[Haganah]].
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[[Image:Idf logo4.jpg|thumb|Emblem of the [[Israel Defense Forces|IDF]].]]
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The IDF is one of the [[List of countries by military expenditures|best funded military forces]] in the [[Middle East]] and ranks among the most battle-trained armed forces in the world, having been involved in five major wars and numerous border conflicts. In terms of personnel, the IDF's main resource is the training quality of its soldiers and expert institutions, rather than sheer numbers of soldiers. It also relies heavily on high technology weapons systems, some developed and manufactured in Israel for its specific needs, and others imported (largely from the United States).
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Most Israelis (males and females) are [[conscription|drafted]] into the military at age 18.<ref>{{cite web
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|url=http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Facts%20About%20Israel/State/The%20Israel%20Defense%20Forces |title=The Israel Defense Forces |publisher=Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs |accessdate=2006-10-21}}</ref> Also immigrants sometimes volunteer to join the IDF. An exception are [[Arab citizens of Israel|Israeli Arabs]], most of whom are not conscripted because of a possible conflict of interests, due to the possibility of war with neighboring Arab states. Other exceptions are those who cannot serve because of injury or disability, women who declare themselves married, or those who are religiously observant. Compulsory service is three years for men, and two years for women. [[Circassians]] and [[Bedouin]] also actively enlist in the IDF. Since 1956, [[Druze]] men have been conscripted in the same way as Jewish men, at the request of the Druze community. Men studying full-time in religious institutions can get a deferment from conscription. Most [[Haredi Judaism|Haredi Jews]] extend these deferments until they are too old to be conscripted, a practice that has fueled much controversy in Israel.
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While Israeli Arabs are not conscripted, they are allowed to enlist voluntarily.  This is the same policy as the Bedouin and many non-Jewish citizens of Israel.
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Following compulsory service, Israeli men become part of the IDF reserve forces, and are usually required to serve several weeks every year as reservists until their forties.
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===Nuclear capability===
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{{main|Israel and weapons of mass destruction}}
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There is much speculation regarding the nuclear capabilities of Israel, estimates suggest that the Israeli arsenal may contain as many as 400 nuclear weapons.<ref> [http://www.janes.com/regional_news/africa_middle_east/news/jir/jir990901_1_n.shtml]</ref> Since the middle of the twentieth century, the [[Negev Nuclear Research Center]] has been operational and capable of producing [[weapons grade]] [[nuclear material]]. This site has never been under the watch of the [[International Atomic Energy Agency]], for which reason the IAEA has stated outright that it believes Israel "to be a state possessing nuclear weapons," an assertion the Israeli government has neither affirmed nor denied. Although the size of nuclear arsenal is debated, it is generally believed that Israel, which is not a signatory of the [[Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty]], possesses at least one hundred devices.
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Data on Israeli nuclear deployment capability is much more freely available than hard data on their nuclear program. Israel leads the Middle East in [[medium-range ballistic missile]] development. The [[Jericho missile|Jericho]] series of ballistic missile was begun in the 1970s, with three major designs built to date; Jericho I, II, and III. The Jericho II series has been in service since the mid 1980s and has a confirmed range of 1500&nbsp;km. The latest missile design, the Jericho III (based on the "[[Shavit]]" booster), has a conservative range estimate of 4500 km,<ref> [http://www.wisconsinproject.org/countries/israel/howfar.html] </ref>other estimates suggest that the Jericho III have a maximum range of  7800 km.<ref> http://www.nuclearfiles.org/menu/key-issues/nuclear-weapons/basics/nuclear-stockpiles.htm </ref>
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In addition to ballistic missile technology, Israel maintains a fleet of [[Dolphin class submarine]]s, widely suspected of being armed with Israeli made medium range (1450 km) [[cruise missiles]] capable of carrying nuclear warheads.<ref> http://www.fas.org/news/israel/e20000619israelmakes.htm </ref>
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On 9 December 2006, the incoming U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested at a Senate confirmation hearing that Israel had atomic weapons. Gates said Iran might want an atomic bomb because it is "surrounded by powers with nuclear weapons: Pakistan to their east, the Russians to the north, the Israelis to the west and us in the Persian Gulf".
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On [[December 11|11 December]] [[2006]], Prime Minister [[Olmert]] made a statement some see as an admission of Israel's possession of nuclear weapons. While commenting on Iran's nuclear program, Olmert said: "Iran openly, explicitly and publicly threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Can you say that this is the same level, when they are aspiring to have nuclear weapons as America, France, Israel, Russia?" However, Olmert's aides immediately denied that this was an official confirmation, saying a grammatical nuance of the sentence was lost in translation.<ref>{{cite web
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|url=http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/12/world/middleeast/12olmert.html
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|title=In a Slip, Israel’s Leader Seems to Confirm Its Nuclear Arsenal
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|publisher=[[The New York Times]] |date=[[2006-12-11]]}}</ref>
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==Economy==
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{{main|Economy of Israel}}
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Israel is the most industrially and economically developed country in the [[Middle East]]. It has a technologically advanced market economy with substantial government participation. It depends on imports of [[fossil fuels]] ([[crude oil]], [[natural gas]], and [[coal]]), [[grains]], [[beef]], raw materials, and military equipment. Despite limited natural resources, Israel has intensively developed its agricultural and industrial sectors over the past twenty years. Israel is largely self-sufficient in food production except for grains and beef. Diamonds, high technology, military equipment, software, pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals, and agricultural products (fruits, vegetables and flowers) are leading exports. Israel usually posts sizable [[current account deficit]]s, which are covered by large transfer payments from abroad and by foreign loans (although some economists would say the deficit is a sign of Israel's advancing markets). Israel possesses extensive facilities for [[oil refining]], [[Diamond#The diamond industry|diamond polishing]], and [[semiconductor]] fabrication. According to international data reported by the [[World Bank]], Israel has [[Ease of Doing Business Index|the best regulations for businesses]] and strongest protections of property rights in the Greater Middle East.
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Roughly half of the government's external debt is owed to the [[United States]], which is its major source of economic and military aid. A relatively large fraction of Israel's external debt is held by [[individual investor]]s, via the [[Israel Bonds]] program. The combination of American loan guarantees and direct sales to individual investors, allow the state to borrow at competitive and sometimes below-market rates.
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[[Image:800px-Habursa 2.JPG|thumb|300px|A main business district in [[Gush Dan]] where the diamond stock exchange is located.]]
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The influx of Jewish immigrants from the former [[USSR]] topped 750,000 during the period 1989–1999, bringing the population of Israel from the former [[Soviet Union]] to one million, one-sixth of the total population, many of them highly educated, adding scientific and professional expertise of substantial value for the economy's future. The influx, coupled with the opening of new markets at the end of the [[Cold War]], energized Israel's economy, which grew rapidly in the early [[1990s]]. But growth began slowing in 1996 when the government imposed tighter fiscal and monetary policies and the immigration bonus petered out. Those policies brought inflation down to record low levels in 1999.
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Twenty-four percent of Israel's workforce holds university degrees, ranking Israel third in the industrialized world after the United States and [[Netherlands]]. Twelve percent hold advanced degrees.<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.israelfm.org/economic/investing/top_ten.htm |title=Top Ten Reasons to Invest in Israel |publisher=Israel Consulate in New York |accessdate=2006-11-19}}</ref>
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The important diamond industry has been affected by changing industry conditions and shifts of certain industry activities to the Far East.
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As Israel has liberalized its economy and reduced taxes and spending, the gap between the rich and poor has grown. As of 2005, 20.5% of Israeli families (and 34% of Israeli children) are living below the poverty line, though around 40% of those are lifted above the poverty line through transfer payments.
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Israel's nominal GDP per capita, as of [[28 July]], [[2005]], was $19,248 per person (30th in the world), and its GDP per capita at purchase power parity was 26, 200 (26th in the world). Israel's overall productivity was $54,510.40, and the amount of patents granted was 74/1,000,000 people. At the end of [[September 2006]], Israel's population was 7.1 million, of whom 2.6 million were employed during the second quarter of 2006. As of [[August 2006]], average monthly wages per employee were 7,521 [[Shekels]] or 1,749 [[USD]], whilst private consumption expenditure per capita (2006, second quarter) was 12,208 [[Shekels]] or 2,839 [[USD]]. In Israel, 7.6% of people are unemployed (2006, first quarter)[http://www1.cbs.gov.il/reader/newhodaot/hodaa_template.html?hodaa=200720049].
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===Science and technology===
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[[Image:Weizmann Institute.jpg|thumb|[[Weizmann Institute of Science]]]]
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{{main|Science and technology in Israel}}
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Israeli contributions to [[science]] and [[technology]] have been significant. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, Israel has worked in science and engineering.  Israeli scientists have contributed in the areas of [[genetics]], [[computer sciences]], [[electronics]], [[optics]], [[engineering]] and other [[Technology|high-tech]] industries. Israeli science is well known for its [[Israel Defense Forces#Israeli Military Technology|military technology]], as well as its work in advancing fields such as agriculture, physics, and medicine.
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Four Israelis have won science [[Nobel Prize]]s. Biologists [[Avram Hershko]] and [[Aaron Ciechanover]] of the [[Technion]] shared the Chemistry prize in 2004. Israeli-American psychologist [[Daniel Kahneman]] had previously won the 2002 prize in Economics. In 2005, [[Robert Aumann]] from The [[Hebrew University]] also won the prize in Economics.
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High technology industries have taken a pre-eminent role in the economy, particularly in the last decade. Israel's limited natural resources and strong emphasis on education have also played key roles in directing industry towards high technology fields. As a result of the country’s success in developing cutting edge technologies in software, communications and the life sciences, Israel is frequently referred to as a second [[Silicon Valley]].<ref>{{cite web |title=Israel keen on IT tie-ups |date=[[2001-01-11]] |publisher=The Hindu Business Line |url=http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/businessline/2001/01/11/stories/151139ue.htm}}</ref><ref>{{cite web |title=Israel: Punching above its weight |date=[[2005-11-14]] |publisher=[[The Economist]]|url=http://www.ebusinessforum.com/index.asp?doc_id=7798&layout=rich_story}}</ref>
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As of 2004, Israel receives more venture capital investment than any country in Europe,<ref>{{cite web |title=Venture capital invests in Israeli techs Recovering from recession, country ranks behind only Boston, Silicon Valley in attracting cash for startups |date=[[2004-04-02]] |publisher=[[San Francisco Chronicle]] |url=http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/04/02/BUG675V5L41.DTL}}</ref> and has the largest VC/GDP rate in the world, seven times that of the United States. Israel has the largest number of [[Startup company|startup companies]] in the world after the United States. Outside the United States and [[Canada]], Israel has the largest number of [[NASDAQ]]-listed companies.<ref>{{cite web |title=NASDAQ Appoints Asaf Homossany as New Director for Israel |date=[[2005-02-06]] |publisher=[[NASDAQ]]|url=http://www.nasdaq.com/newsroom/news/pr2005/ne_section05_019.stm}}</ref> Israel also has one of the highest percentage in the world of home computers per capita.
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Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation: 109 per 10,000 people.<ref name="mideastoutpost">{{cite news |title=BOYCOTT ISRAEL? DO IT PROPERLY.. |date=[[2004-12-31]] |publisher=[[Mideast Outpost]]|url=http://mideastoutpost.com/archives/000121.html}}</ref> It also boasts one of the highest per capita rates of patents filed.
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Israel is ranked third in research and development (R&D) spending; eighth in technological readiness (companies spending on R&D, the creativity of its scientific community, personal computer and internet penetration rates); eleventh in innovation; sixteenth in high technology exports; and seventeenth in technological achievement in [http://www.nationmaster.com Nation Master]'s list of countries in the world by economy standards.
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===Tourism===
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[[Image:Negev-2005-1.JPG|thumb|left|Sand Mountains in the [[Negev]].]][[Image:Ein-Pik-2005-3.JPG|thumb|left|Landscape in the [[Golan Heights]].]]
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{{main|Tourism in Israel}}
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Another leading industry is tourism, which benefits from the plethora of important historical sites for Judaism, Christianity and Islam and from Israel's warm climate and access to water resources. Tourism in Israel includes a rich variety of historical and religious sites in the [[Holy Land]], as well as modern beach resorts, [[archaeological tourism]], [[heritage tourism]] and [[ecotourism]].
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==Population==
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===Demographics===
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[[Image:Israeli soldiers and Arabs .jpg|thumb|180px|Israeli soldiers chat with Arab civilians in [[Galilee]], 1978.]]
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{{main|Demographics of Israel|Languages of Israel}}
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According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, as December 2006, of Israel's 7.1 million people, 76% were [[Jew]]s, 20% [[Arab]]s, and 4% "others".<ref name="pdf2">{{cite web |url=http://www.cbs.gov.il/hodaot2006n/11_06_279b.pdf |title=Population, by religion and population group |accessdate=2006-12-28 |first=Government of Israel |last=Central Bureau of Statistics}}</ref> Among Jews, 68% were Israeli-born, mostly second or third-generation Israelis, and the rest are foreign-born: 22% from [[Europe]] and the [[Americas]], and 10% from [[Asia]] and [[Africa]], including the [[Arab world|Arab countries]].<ref name="pdf3">{{cite web |url=http://www1.cbs.gov.il/shnaton56/st02_24.pdf |title=Jews and others, by origin, continent of birth and period of immigration |accessdate=2006-04-08 |first=Government of Israel |last=Central Bureau of Statistics}}</ref>
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Israel has two official languages: [[Hebrew language|Hebrew]] and [[Arabic language|Arabic]]. Hebrew is the major and primary language of the state and is spoken by the majority of the population. Arabic is spoken by the Arab minority and by some members of the [[Mizrahi Jews|Mizrahi]] Jewish community. [[English language|English]] is studied in school and is spoken by the majority of the population as a second language. Other languages spoken in Israel include [[Russian language|Russian]], [[Yiddish language|Yiddish]], [[Ladino language|Ladino]], [[Romanian language|Romanian]], [[Polish language|Polish]], [[French language|French]], [[Italian language|Italian]], [[Dutch language|Dutch]], [[German language|German]], [[Amharic language|Amharic]] and [[Persian language|Persian]]. American and European popular television shows are commonly presented. Newspapers can be found in all languages listed above as well as others.
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As of 2004, 224,200 Israeli citizens lived in the [[West Bank]] in numerous [[Israeli settlement]]s, (including towns such as [[Ma'ale Adummim]] and [[Ariel, West Bank|Ariel]], and a handful of communities that were present long before the [[1948 Arab-Israeli War]] and were re-established after the [[Six-Day War]] such as [[Hebron]] and [[Gush Etzion]]). Around 180,000 Israelis lived in [[East Jerusalem]],<ref name="fmep">{{cite web |url=http://fmep.org/settlement_info/stats_data/jerusalem/east_jerusalem_population_area_2000-2002.html |title=East Jerusalem Population and Area, 2000-2002 |accessdate=2006-04-08 |first=Foundation for Middle East Peace |last=Settlements information}}</ref> which came under Israeli control following its capture from Jordan during the Six-Day War. About 8,500 Israelis lived in settlements built in the [[Gaza Strip]], prior to their forcible removal by the government in the summer of [[2005]] as part of [[Israel's unilateral disengagement plan]].
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===Culture of Israel===
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[[Image:Roth Oil.jpg|thumb|[[Leo Roth]], ''Flute Players'', oil on canvas, 1967.]]
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{{main|Culture of Israel}}
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The culture of Israel is inseparable from long history of Judaism and Jewish history which preceded it.
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Tel Aviv, Haifa, [[Herzliya]], and Jerusalem have excellent art museums, and many towns and kibbutzim have smaller high-quality museums. The [[Israel Museum]] in Jerusalem houses the [[Dead Sea Scrolls]] along with an extensive collection of Jewish religious and folk art. The [[Beit Hatefutsot|Museum of the Diaspora]] is located on the campus of Tel Aviv University. Israel has [[artist colony|artist colonies]] in [[Safed]], [[Jaffa, Israel|Jaffa]], and [[Ein Hod]], as well as three major repertory companies, the most famous being [[Habima Theater]] which was founded in 1917.
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As regards [[Gay rights in Israel|gay rights]], Israel remains the most <!--vague: advanced and-->tolerant country in the Middle East.
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{{seealso|Archaeology of Israel|Israel Antiquities Authority|Jewish cuisine|Israeli wine|Kibbutz}}
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====Education====
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{{main|Education in Israel}}
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Israel has the highest school life expectancy in the Greater Middle East and Western Asia, and is tied with [[South Korea]] for highest school life expectancy in the entire Asian continent. It is ranked 22 out of 111 nations.<ref>[http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/edu_sch_lif_exp_tot-education-school-life-expectancy-total NationMaster - Statistics > School life expectancy]</ref> Israel also has the highest [[literacy]] rate in the Middle East according to the UN.<ref>[http://hdr.undp.org/reports/global/2005/pdf/HDR05_HDI.pdf United Nations Development Programme Report 2005]</ref>
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The education system in Israel, up to [[secondary education]] level, consists of three tiers: the [[primary education]] (grades 1-6), followed by a [[middle school]] (grades 7-9), then [[high school]] (grades 10-12). [[Compulsory education]] is from grades 1 to 9. The secondary education mostly consists of preparation for the Israeli matriculation exams (''[[bagrut]]''). The exams consist of a multitude of subjects, some of them mandatory ([[Hebrew language]], [[English language]], [[mathematics]], [[Religious education|Bible studies]], [[civics]] and [[literature]]), and some optional (e.g. [[Chemistry]], [[Music]], [[French language|French]]). In 2003, 56.4% of Israeli grade 12 students received a matriculation certificate: 57.4% in the Hebrew sector and 50.7% in the Arab sector.&nbsp;[http://www1.cbs.gov.il/shnaton56/st08_21.pdf]
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Any Israeli with a full matriculation certificate can proceed to [[higher education]], as in any country. Institutions generally require a certain grade average, as well as a good grade in the psychometric exam (similar to the American [[SAT]]). As all universities (and some colleges) are subsidized by the state, students pay only a small part of the actual cost as [[tuition]].
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Israel has eight universities and several dozen colleges. According to [[Webometrics]] (2006), of the top ten universities in the Middle East, seven out of ten are in Israel, including the top four.<ref>http://www.webometrics.info/top100_continent.asp?cont=meast</ref> However, as of January 2007, Webometrics ranks Israeli (and Turkish) schools among European universities, boasting four in its top 100. The [[Hebrew University of Jerusalem]] is the only university in the Middle East ranked in the [[Webometrics]] top-200 in the world. Israel is the only country in the Middle East (and one of only two in Asia, the other being Japan) that is home to a university listed in [[SJTU]]'s Top 100 Academic Ranking of World Universities (Hebrew University, #60).&nbsp;[http://ed.sjtu.edu.cn/rank/2006/ARWU2006_Top100.htm]&nbsp;[http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14321230/site/newsweek/] Also, Israel, out of all countries in the Middle East and Western Asia, has the highest number of [[Yale University]] alumni.<ref>http://world.yale.edu/graduates/mideast_map.html</ref>
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{{seealso|List of universities and colleges in Israel}}
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====Sports====
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[[Image:Galfridman.jpg|thumb|[[Gal Fridman]] won Israel's first Olympic [[gold medal]] at the [[2004 Summer Olympics]].]]
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{{main|Sports in Israel}}
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Sports in Israel, as in other countries, are an important part of the national culture. The Israeli sporting culture is much like that of European countries. Israeli athletics go back as far as before the establishment of the state of Israel. While [[Soccer|football]] (soccer) and [[basketball]] are considered the most popular sports in Israel, the nation has attained achievements in other sports, such as [[American Football]],[[handball]] and [[Athletics (track and field)|athletics]]. Israelis are also involved in [[hockey]], [[Rugby football|rugby]] and<!--??:even--> [[chess]].
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To date, Israel has won six [[Olympic Games|Olympic medals]].
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====Literature====
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{{main|Israeli literature}}
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Israeli literature is mostly written in Hebrew and the history of Israeli literature is mostly the product of the revival of the Hebrew language as a spoken language in modern times.
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Since the middle of the nineteenth century, the Hebrew language was increasingly used for speaking as well as writing modern forms of prose, poetry and drama. Every year thousands of new books are published in Hebrew and most of them are original to the Hebrew language.
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[[Shmuel Yosef Agnon]] won the [[Nobel Prize in literature]] in 1966.
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====Music====
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[[Image:Itzhak perlman.jpg|thumb|left|100px|[[Itzhak Perlman]]]]
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{{main|Music of Israel}}
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Israeli music is diverse and combines elements of both western and eastern music. It tends toward eclecticism and contains a wide variety of influences from today's Jewish diaspora. It also makes use of modern cultural importation. [[Hassidic]] songs, Asian and Arab pop, especially Yemenite singers, [[Hip hop music|hip hop]] and [[Heavy metal music|heavy metal]] are all part of the musical scene.
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Israel's canonical [[Folk music|folk songs]] often deal with [[Zionism|Zionist]] hopes and dreams and glorify the life of idealistic Jewish youth who intend on building a home and defending their homeland. These are usually known as <big>שירי ארץ ישראל</big> ("Songs of the [[land of Israel]]").
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Israel is well-known for its famous classical [[orchestra]]s and the [[Israel Philharmonic Orchestra|Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra]] under the management of [[Zubin Mehta]] has a worldwide reputation. [[Dudu Fisher]], [[Itzhak Perlman]] and [[Pinchas Zukerman]] are some of the more renowned classical musicians from Israel.
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Music styles popular in Israel include pop, rock, heavy metal, hip hop and rap, trance (especially [[Goa trance]] and [[psychedelic trance]]), Oriental [[Mizrahi music]] and ethnic music of various sorts.
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Israel has [[Eurovision Song Contest winners|won the Eurovision Song Contest]] three times (1978, 1979, 1998).
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{{seealso|Hatikvah}}
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===Religion===
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{{main|Religion in Israel}}
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According to the [[Israel Central Bureau of Statistics]], 76.1% of Israelis are [[Judaism|Jewish]]; 16.2% are [[Islam|Muslim]]; 2.1% are [[Christianity|Christian]]; 1.6% are [[Druze]]; and 3.9% unclassified.<ref name="Religion">{{cite web |url=http://www1.cbs.gov.il/shnaton57/st02_01.pdf |title=Population, by religion and population group |accessdate=2007-02-26 |first=Government of Israel |last=Israel Central Bureau of Statistics}}</ref>
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Roughly 12% of Israeli Jews defined as [[Haredi Judaism|''haredim'']] (ultra-orthodox religious); an additional 9% are "religious"; 35% consider themselves "traditionalists" (not strictly adhering to Jewish [[Halakha]]); and 43% are "secular" (termed "hiloni"). Among the seculars, 53% believe in God. However, 78% of all Israelis participate in a [[Pesach|Passover]] seder.<ref>[http://www.jcpa.org/dje/articles2/relinisr-consensus.htm Religion in Israel: A Consensus for Jewish Tradition] by Daniel J. Elazar (JCPA).</ref> Israelis tend not to align themselves with a movement of [[Judaism]] (such as [[Reform Judaism]] or [[Conservative Judaism]]) but instead tend to define their religious affiliation by degree of their religious practice.
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Among [[Arab citizens of Israel|Arab Israelis]], 82.6% were Muslim, 8.8% were [[Christian]] and 8.4% were [[Druze]].<!--<ref name="pdf2">{{cite web| url=http://www1.cbs.gov.il/shnaton56/st02_01.pdf |title=Population, by religion and population group |accessdate=2006-04-08 |first=Government of Israel |last=Central Bureau of Statistics |format=PDF}}</ref>--> There is also a small community of [[Ahmadiyya|Ahmadi]] Muslims in the country.<ref>{{cite web |url=http://alhafeez.org/rashid/kababeer.htm |title=Ahmadis in Israel |date=[[1999-06-05]]}}</ref>.
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There are<!--?:up to--> fourteen diverse [[Buddhist]] groups are presently active in Israel, catering to Israeli [[Jubu]]s as well as a tiny number of [[Vietnam]]ese Buddhists who came to Israel as [[Boat people#Vietnam war boat people|refugees from the crisis in their homeland]] and were granted citizenship.<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.buddhanet.net/africame/m_eastdir.htm#israel |title=BuddhaNet Middle East Directory |publisher=BuddhaNet|accessdate=2006-11-24}}</ref> A small [[Hindu]] presence exists in Israel, including [[Vaishnavite]] [[Krishna Consciousness]] devotees (mainly on the [[Ariel, Israel|Ariel settlement]])<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.wavesofdevotion.com/journal/2002/05/|title=Srila Danurdhara Swami's Waves of Devotion |publisher=Srila Danurdhara Swami|accessdate=2007-03-24}}</ref> [[Brahma Kumari]]s, and others. There are also small numbers of [[Ismaili]]s and [[Sikh]]s.
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The [[Bahá'í]] world centre, which includes the [[Universal House of Justice]], is situated in Haifa and attracts [[Bahá'í pilgrimage|pilgrimage]] from all over the world.<ref>http://info.bahai.org/article-1-6-0-5.html</ref> Apart from a few hundred staff, Bahá'ís do not live in Israel.
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{{seealso|Holidays and events in Israel}}
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==Human rights==
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{{main|Human rights in Israel}}
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The [[Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel]] proclaimed that the state "''...will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the [[Prophet#Prophets in Jewish thought|prophets of Israel]]; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee [[freedom of religion]], [[freedom of thought|conscience]], language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the [[Charter of the United Nations]].''"<ref>[[wikiquote:Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel]]</ref> However, like many democracies, Israel often struggles with issues of minority rights, especially when it comes to the often contentious issues surrounding the treatment of Israel's large Arab minority, which constitutes 15% of Israel's population.<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.acri.org.il/english-acri/engine/story.asp?id=100 |title=A Status Report – Equality for Arab Citizens of Israel |publisher=[[The Association for Civil Rights In Israel]] |year=2002 |accessdate=August 2, 2006}}</ref><ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.huka.gov.il/wiki/index.php/Human_Rights |title=Human Rights
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|publisher=A joint project of the [[Knesset]] and the [[Jewish Agency for Israel]], operated in North America by the Israeli American Jewish Forum.
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|accessdate=August 25, 2006}}</ref> In 2005, Israel's interior minister [[Ophir Pines-Paz]] termed the country's policy toward its Arab citizens "institutional discrimination".<ref name="CRHRP">{{cite web |url=http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005/61690.htm |title=Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2005 - Israel and the occupied territories |publisher=[[United States Department of State]] |date=March 8, 2006 |accessdate=September 22, 2006}}</ref> The Arab minority, however, is represented in Israel's cabinet.<ref>[http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6307673.stm BBC News] retrieved 28 January 2007.</ref>
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While Israel does not have a [[constitution]], it has a set of [[Basic Laws of Israel|Basic Laws]], intended to form the basis of a future constitution. One of those Basic Laws, [[Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty (Israel)|Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty]], serves as one of the major tools for defending human rights and liberties.
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According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Sephardi Jews "have long charged that they suffered social and economic discrimination at the hands of the state's [[Ashkenazi]] establishment."<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.jewishsf.com/content/2-0-/module/displaystory/story_id/6561/edition_id/123/format/html/displaystory.html |title=Jewish Agency Probe Ordered on Confiscation of Sephardi IDs |publisher=The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California |accessdate=October 18, 2006}}</ref>
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Various countries, international bodies, [[non-governmental organizations]] and individuals have evaluated and often criticized Israel's human rights record, often in relation to the ongoing [[Arab-Israeli conflict]] and the [[Israeli-Palestinian conflict]]. Groups such as [[Amnesty International]]<ref>{{cite web |url=http://web.amnesty.org/report2005/isr-summary-eng |title=Israel and the Occupied Territories |accessdate=2006-09-03 |year=2006 |work=AI Report 2005 |publisher=[[Amnesty International]]}}</ref> and [[Human Rights Watch]]<ref>{{cite web |url=http://hrw.org/doc/?t=mideast&c=isrlpa |title=Israel/Palestinian Authority |accessdate=2006-09-03 |year=2006 |publisher=Human Rights Watch}}</ref> are highly critical of Israel's policies.  According to the 2005 [[US Department of State]] report on Israel, "''The government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, there were problems in some areas...''"<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005/61690.htm |title=Israel and the Occupied Territories |date=March 8, 2006 |accessdate=July 27, 2006 |year=2005
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|work=Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2005. Israel and the Occupied Territories |publisher=Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor}}</ref> In 2006, [[Freedom House]] rated [[political rights]] in Israel as "1" (1 representing the most free and 7 the least free rating); [[civil liberties]] as "2"; and was also the only country in the region to be ranked as "Free" (28 on the scale 1-100). <ref>{{cite web |title=Press Freedom Rankings by Region 2005 |publisher=[[Freedom House]] |date=2005 |url=http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=202&year=2005
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|accessdate=2006-08-12}}</ref>.  Other areas, [[Israeli-occupied territories|controlled by Israel through military occupation]] but not considered with the country's main territory were rated as "6," "5," and "Not Free" (territories administered by the [[Palestinian Authority]] were rated as "5", "5", and "Partly Free").<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.freedomhouse.org/uploads/pdf/Charts2006.pdf |title=Freedom in the World 2006 |publisher=[[Freedom House]] |date=[[2005-12-16]] |accessdate=2006-07-27 |format=PDF }}<br/>See also [[Freedom in the World 2006]] and [[List of indices of freedom]].</ref> Most of the countries in the Middle East were classified as "Not Free". [[Btselem]], the Israeli human rights organization, has stated that Israel has created in the [[West Bank]] a regime of separation based on discrimination, applying two separate systems of law in the same area and basing the rights of individuals on their nationality.<ref>{{cite web |url=http://www.btselem.org/English/Publications/Summaries/200205_Land_Grab.asp |title=Land Grab: Israel's Settlement Policy in the West Bank |publisher=[[B'Tselem]] |date=May, 2002 |accessdate=September 29, 2006}}</ref>
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Within Israel, policies of its government are often subjected to criticism from the left and right by its press as well as by a vast variety of political, human rights and watchdog groups such as [[Association for Civil Rights in Israel]], [[B'Tselem]], [[Machsom Watch]], [[Women in Black]], [[Women for Israel's Tomorrow]], among others. According to the [[Reporters Without Borders]] (RWB), "''The Israeli media were once again in 2005 the only ones in the region that had genuine freedom to speak out.''"<ref>{{cite web
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|title=Israel - Annual report 2006 |publisher=[[Reporters Without Borders]]  |date=2006 |url=http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=17231}}</ref>
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RWB ranked Israel 47th out of 167 countries as regards [[freedom of the press]], the highest of any country in the Middle East and just behind the [[United States]] (44th).<ref>"Little improvement in Middle East: Few of the region’s countries rank high in the Index. Israel (47th) does best..." [http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=15336 Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2005], Middle East, [[Reporters Without Borders]], retrieved October 16, 2006.</ref>
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==Foreign relations==
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{{main|Foreign relations of Israel}}
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The State of Israel joined the [[United Nations]] on [[May 11]], [[1949]] (see [[Israel and the United Nations]]). Today, Israel has diplomatic relations with 161 states.<ref>[http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/about%20the%20ministry/diplomatic%20missions/Israel-s%20Diplomatic%20Missions%20Abroad Israel's Diplomatic Missions Abroad] (Israeli MFA).</ref> Israel is still not recognized by several countries most of which are Arabic.
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Israel is a member of many international agencies and organizations and is also a member of the [[Mediterranean Dialogue]] with [[NATO]].
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== Annotated list of Israeli media sources ==
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{{col-begin}}
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'''General references to the Israeli media'''
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* [http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/facts%20about%20israel/culture/the%20printed%20media-%20israel-s%20newspapers The Printed Media: Israel's Newspapers] Summary from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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* [[List of Israeli newspapers]]
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'''English-language periodicals'''
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* ''[[Azure (journal)|Azure]]'' [http://www.azure.co.il/] English edition of the quarterly journal offering essays and criticism on Israeli and Jewish public policy, culture and philosophy
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* ''[[Globes]]'' [http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/nodeView.asp?fid=942] English-language website of Israel's business and technology daily
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* ''[[Haaretz]]'' [http://www.haaretz.com/] English edition of the relatively highbrow Hebrew-language newspaper, Haaretz has a liberal editorial stance similar to that of ''[[The Guardian]]''. It's published online as well as included as a supplement to the local edition of the [[International Herald Tribune]].
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* ''[[IsraelInsider]]'' [http://www.israelinsider.com/] - Independent outlet. Target audience is American Jewry.
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* ''[[Jerusalem Newswire]]'' [http://www.jnewswire.com/ ] Independent Christian-run news outlet
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* ''[[The Jerusalem Post]]'' [http://www.jpost.com/] Israel's oldest English-language newspaper
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* ''[[The Jerusalem Report]]'' [http://www.jrep.com/]English [[weekly newspaper]]
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* ''[[YNetNews]]'' [http://www.ynetnews.com/] English-language website of Israel's largest newspaper ''[[Yedioth Ahronoth]]''
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* ''[[ISRAEL21c]]'' [http://www.israel21c.org/] English-language website reporting on Israel "beyond the conflict."
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'''Hebrew-language periodicals'''
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* ''[[Globes]]'' [http://www.globes.co.il/ ] business daily
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* ''[[Haaretz]]'' [http://www.haaretz.co.il/] Relatively highbrow Israeli newspaper with a liberal editorial stance similar to that of ''[[The Guardian]]''
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* ''[[Hamodia]]'' Daily newspaper serving Israel's [[Haredi]] community. English editions are also published in the [[United States|U.S.]] and the [[United Kingdom|U.K.]] and serve local Jewish Orthodox communities in those countries. ''Hamodia'' is not available online.
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* ''[[Hazofe]]'' [http://www.hazofe.co.il/] daily newspaper with a [[religious Zionist movement|religious Zionist]] point of view
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* ''[[Maariv]]'' [http://www.NRG.co.il/] Second largest Israeli newspaper, centrist.
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* ''[[Makor Rishon]]'' [http://www.makorrishon.net/] highbrow [[weekly newspaper]], conceived as an alternative to [[Ha'aretz]]
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'''Hebrew-language periodicals (continued)'''
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* ''[[Azure (journal)|Tchelet]]'' [http://www.tchelet.org.il/] Hebrew edition of ''Azure'', a quarterly journal covering Israeli public policy
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* ''[[Yated Ne'eman]]'' Daily newspaper serving the [[Haredi]] community
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* ''[[Yedioth Ahronoth]]'' [http://www.ynet.co.il/] Israel's largest newspaper
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'''German-language periodicals:'''
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* ''[[Israel Nachrichten]]'' [http://www.imh-deutschland.de/service/index.php?rubrik=0010&id=0038] The German-language daily from Tel Aviv for the 100,000 German-speaking Jews in Israel
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'''French-language periodicals:'''
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* [http://www.guysen.com/ Guysen News about Israel in French]
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'''Arabic-language periodicals'''
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* ''Al-Ittihad'' Arabic-language daily newspaper
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<!--'''Russian-language periodicals:'''-->
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'''Israeli broadcast media'''
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* [http://www.iba.org.il/ Israel Broadcasting Authority], TV News in Hebrew, some English.
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* [http://www.jerusalemonline.co.il/home.asp JerusalemONLINE] video news update from Israel in English by [[Channel 2 (Israel)|Channel 2]] News.
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* [http://www.radioisrael.com/ Radio Israel]
+
* [http://www.israelnationalnews.com/ Arutz Sheva] news site representing the settler community, right-wing religious (English)
+
* [http://www.israelradio.org/ Kol Israel - Voice of Israel] Also produced by the IBA. In Hebrew, Arabic, French, English, Spanish, Ladino, Russian, Persian, Yiddish, etc.
+
* [http://www.isracast.com/ IsraCast] - Independent, multimedia broadcast and distribution network that focuses on Israeli foreign affairs and defense issues (in English).
+
* [[Israelisms Podcast]] [http://www.israelisms.com] Weekly podcast (in English) about everyday life and politics in Israel.
+
 
+
'''Notable Internet sources'''
+
* [[DailyAlert]] [http://www.dailyalert.org/] daily digest of Israeli and world media reports on Israel and the Middle East prepared by the [[Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs]] for [[The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations]]
+
* [http://www.infoisrael.net Israel Habara Committee]
+
 
+
'''Related non-Israeli media'''
+
* [[Jewish Telegraphic Agency]] [http://www.jta.org/], New York-based [[news agency]] covering worldwide Jewish news, centrist (English)
+
{{col-end}}
+
 
+
==See also==
+
{{col-begin}}
+
{{col-break}}
+
* [[Basic Laws of Israel]]
+
* [[Religion in Israel]]
+
* [[List of Israelis]]
+
* [[List of cities in Israel|Cities in Israel]]
+
* [[Communications in Israel]]
+
* [[Transportation in Israel]]
+
* [[Israel Defense Forces]]
+
* [[Foreign relations of Israel]]
+
* [[Israeli-occupied territories]]
+
{{col-break}}
+
* [[Israel and the United Nations]]
+
* [[List of universities in Israel]]
+
* [[Tel Aviv Stock Exchange]]
+
* [[Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities]]
+
* [[Music of Israel]]
+
* [[Mechanical biological treatment]] - Israeli leading area of innovation in waste technology
+
{{col-break}}
+
* [[Israel-United States relations]]
+
* [[Accession of Israel to the European Union]]
+
* [[List of the UN resolutions concerning Israel]]
+
* [[Israeli passport]]
+
* [[Sport in Israel]]
+
* [[Same-sex marriage in Israel]]
+
{{col-end}}
+
 
+
==References and footnotes==
+
{{reflist|2}}
+
 
+
== External links ==
+
'''General information'''
+
* [http://www.dinur.org/1.html?rsID=219 The Jewish History Resource Center] Project of the Dinur Center for Research in Jewish History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
+
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/middle_east/country_profiles/803257.stm BBC News Country Profile - ''Israel and Palestinian Territories'']
+
* [http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/israel.html Israel] ([[Jewish Virtual Library]])
+
* [https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/is.html CIA World Factbook - ''Israel'']
+
* [http://www.britannica.com/nations/Israel Encyclopaedia Britannica, Israel - Country Page]
+
* [http://www.state.gov/p/nea/ci/israel/ US State Department - ''Israel''] includes Background Notes, Country Study and major reports
+
* [http://www.givatchen.org Israel - Moshav] a sample of an Israeli Moshav.
+
* [http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/indiv/mideast/cuvlm/Israel.html Columbia University Libraries - ''Israel''] directory category of the WWW-VL
+
* [http://www.ynetnews.com/home/0,7340,L-3131,00.html Israel Lexicon] definitions, events and terms related to Israel, [http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3284752,00.html Israel Profile] (Ynet News)
+
* [http://www.israel21c.com Israel21c: A focus beyond the conflict]
+
* [http://www.tiscali.co.uk/reference/encyclopaedia/countryfacts/israel.html Hutchinson Country Facts: Israel]
+
* [http://www.middle-east-info.org/league/israel/israel.htm Israel information] at [http://www.middle-east-info.org middle-east-info.org]
+
 
+
{{col-begin}}
+
 
+
'''Government'''
+
* [http://www.gov.il/FirstGov/english Government Portal of Israel]
+
* [http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel]
+
* [http://www.president.gov.il/defaults/default_en.asp The President of the state of Israel]
+
* [http://www.pmo.gov.il/PMOEng Prime Minister's Office]
+
* [http://www.cbs.gov.il/engindex.htm Bureau of Statistics]
+
* [http://www.idf.il/ Israel Defence Force site]
+
* [http://www.seamzone.mod.gov.il/pages/eng/purpose.htm Israel Security Fence Project]
+
* Israel's official [http://www.isrealli.org/ Blog]
+
* [http://www.mideastweb.org/israel_apartheid.htm Israel is a democracy in which Arabs vote]
+
 
+
 
+
'''Legislation and the legal system'''
+
* [http://www.knesset.gov.il/ The Knesset (Parliament)]
+
* [http://www.knesset.gov.il/description/eng/eng_mimshal_yesod1.htm Basic Laws], legal code of Israel
+
* [http://www.israelinsurancelaw.com/ Israeli Commercial, Banking, Tort and Insurance Laws] (in English)
+
{{col-end}}
+
 
+
{{col-begin}}
+
 
+
'''History'''
+
* [http://www.dinur.org/resources/resourceCategoryDisplay.aspx?categoryid=780&rsid=478 State of Israel] The Jewish History Resource Center, Project of the Dinur Center for Research in Jewish History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
+
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/78601.stm The birth of Israel] from the BBC
+
* [http://www.imj.org.il/ Israel Museum, Jerusalem]
+
* [http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFAArchive/2000_2009/2002/7/Israel-s%20Foreign%20Relations-%20Selected%20Documents Historical documents] (MFA)
+
* [http://www.isracast.com/territories.asp Authentic historical recordings] (Isracast)
+
* [http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3284752,00.html State of Israel History]
+
* [http://www.footnote.com/viewer.php?image=4346731 Original Document: Press Release Announcing US Recognition of Israel]
+
 
+
 
+
'''Economy, science, and technology'''
+
* [http://www.standardpoors.co.il/default.asp Standard and Poor's Israel Economic Information]
+
* [http://www.science.co.il/ Israel Science and Technology Directory]
+
* [http://www.isracast.com/tech.asp IsraCast: Israeli Science and Technology News]
+
{{col-end}}
+
 
+
'''Society'''
+
* [http://www.iwn.org.il/ Israel Women's Network]
+
* [http://www.gaymiddleeast.com/country/israel Gay Middle East - Israel section]
+
* [http://www.children.org.il/view_cat.asp?cat_id=216&cat_id_to_look=216 National Council of the Child Israel]
+
* [http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/freedom.html Freedom of Religion in Israeli Society and Politics] by Prof. Shimon Shetreet, former minister of Religious Affairs.
+
* [http://www.nswas.org/ Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam] the [[Oasis of Peace]], an experimental Arab-Jewish cooperative village.
+
* [http://www.bne-akiwa.ch/ Zinonist Youth Movement (Bne Akiwa)]
+
* [http://www.reform.org.il/ Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism], Reform Judaism in Israel
+
  
 +
The word "Israel" is also the name of the ancient Hebrew nation, the northern kingdom of the Hebrews (c. 1000-721 BC), and the forename or surname sometimes given to males.
  
 
[[Category: CZ Live]]
 
[[Category: CZ Live]]
[[Category:Geography Workgroup]]
 

Revision as of 00:30, 31 March 2007

The State of Israel (Hebrew: מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, Medinat Yisra'el) is a country in the Middle East region, bordering the Mediterranean Sea on the west, Egypt on the south-west, Jordan on the east, Syria on the northeast, and Lebanon on the north. Israel's capital and largest city is Jerusalem and it has a population of slightly more than 7 million. It's total land area is 20,330 square kilometers.

Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948 following the UN Partition Plan which was adopted by the UN's General Assembly on November 29, 1947.

The word "Israel" is also the name of the ancient Hebrew nation, the northern kingdom of the Hebrews (c. 1000-721 BC), and the forename or surname sometimes given to males.