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"Israel" (; , "Yisrā"el"; , "), officially the "State of Israel" (Hebrew: , "Mīnat Yisrā"el"; , "), is a parliamentary republic in the Middle East locat on the eastern shore of the Miterranean Sea. It borders Lebanon in the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan and the West Bank in the east, Egypt and the Gaza Strip on the southwest, and contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Israel is the world"s only prominantly Jewish state, and is defin as "a Jewish and democratic state" by the Israeli government.

Following the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Israeli law was enact within the Green Line, as defin in the 1949 Armistice Agreements. Following their internationally unrecogniz annexation in 1980–81, Israeli law was extend to East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, although most Arabs in these areas have declin Israeli citizenship. Citizens of the State of Israel also live in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The population, defin by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics to include all citizens and permanent residents in within Israel, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and all Israeli settlements, was estimat in May 2010 to be 7,602,400  people, of whom 5,776,500 are Jewish. Arab citizens of Israel form the country"s second-largest ethnic group, which includes Muslims, Christians, Druze, and Samaritans. According to the May 2010 population estimate, including 300,000 non-citizen Arabs living in East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, this minority numbers 1,551,400.

The modern State of Israel was declar in 1948, and traces its historical and religious roots to the Biblical Land of Israel, also known as Zion, a concept central to Judaism since ancient times.See, for example, Genesis 12 and 13. "Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary". Jewish Publication Society, 2001. Political Zionism took shape in the late-19th century Europe under Theodor Herzl, and the Balfour Declaration of 1917 formaliz British policy preferring the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people. Following World War I, the League of Nations grant Great Britain the Mandate for Palestine, which includ responsibility for securing "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people". In November 1947, the Unit Nations vot in favor of the partition of Palestine, proposing the creation of a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a UN-administer Jerusalem. Partition was accept by the Zionist leadership but reject by Arab leaders, and a civil war began. Israel declar independence on 14 May 1948 and neighboring Arab states invad the next day. Since then, Israel has fought a series of wars with neighboring Arab states, and has occupi territories, including the West Bank, Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights, beyond those delineat in the 1949 Armistice Agreements. The border between Israel and the neighboring West Bank is not formally defin by the Israeli government, as a result of a complex and unresolv political situation. Israel has sign peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, but efforts by elements within both parties to diplomatically solve the problem have so far only met with limit success.

Israel is a develop country and a representative democracy with a parliamentary system and universal suffrage.. "A current list of liberal democracies includes: Andorra, Argentina, ... , Cyprus, ... , Israel, ..." The Prime Minister serves as head of government and the Knesset serves as Israel"s legislative body. The economy, bas on the nominal gross domestic product, was the 41st-largest in the world in 2008. Note: this links to the most up-to-date table of GDP and will therefore eventually cease to connect to the table for the year mention. Israel ranks highest among Middle Eastern countries on the UN Human Development Index, and it has one of the highest life expectancies in the world. Haaretz, May, 2009. Jerusalem is the country"s capital, although it is not recogniz internationally as such. Israel"s main financial center is Tel Aviv, and its main industrial center is Haifa. In 2010, Israel join the OECD.
In 1948, the country was formally nam "Minat Yisrael", or the State of Israel, referring to the ancient Israelites of the region, after other propos historical and religious names including "Eretz Israel" ("the Land of Israel"), Zion, and Judea, were consider and reject. In the early weeks of independence, the government chose the term "Israeli" to denote a citizen of Israel, with the formal announcement made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Moshe Sharett.

The name Israel has historically been us, in common and religious usage, to refer to both the Land of Israel and the entire Jewish nation. . According to the Bible, the name "Israel" was given to the patriarch Jacob (Standard ", "; Septuagint ; "persevere with God" entry "Jacob".
) after he successfully wrestl with an angel of God.From the "King James Version of the Bible": "And he said, Thy name shall be call no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevail." (Genesis, 32:28, 35:10). See also . Jacob"s twelve sons became the ancestors of the Israelites, also known as the "Twelve Tribes of Israel" or "Children of Israel". According to the Bible, Jacob and his sons had liv in Canaan and were forc by famine to go into Egypt for four generations until Moses, a great-great grandson of Jacob, l the Israelites back into Canaan in the Exodus. The earliest archaeological artifact to mention the word "Israel" is the Merneptah Stele of ancient Egypt (dat to the late 13th century BCE).. "The Merneptah Stele... is arguably the oldest evidence outside the Bible for the existence of Israel as early as the 13th century BCE."

The area is also known as the Holy Land, being holy for all Abrahamic religions including Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Bahá"í Faith. Prior to the 1948 Israeli Declaration of Independence, the region was known by various other names including Palestine, Southern Syria, Syria Palestina, Kingdom of Jerusalem, Iudaea Province, Coele-Syria, Retjenu and Canaan.
Jewish History in the Southern Levant

Masada in the Judean Desert, a national symbol
The Land of Israel, known in Hebrew as "Eretz Yisrael", has been sacr to the Jewish people since Biblical times. According to the Torah, God promis the Land of Israel to the three Patriarchs of the Jewish people.From the "King James Version of the Bible": "And the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possess, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers." (Deuteronomy, 30:5).From the "King James Version of the Bible": "But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there." (Nehemiah, 1:9). Scholars place the period of the three Patriarchs somewhere in the early 2nd millennium BCE. According to Biblical evidence the first Kingdom of Israel was establish around the 11th century BCE. Subsequent Israelite kingdoms and states rul intermittently over the next thousand years, and are known from various extra-biblical sources.. "For a thousand years Jerusalem was the seat of Jewish sovereignty, the household site of kings, the location of its legislative councils and courts."

Between the time of the First Kingdom of Israel and the Muslim conquests of the 7th century, the Land of Israel fell under Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Sassanian, and Byzantine rule. Jewish presence in the region dwindl after the failure of the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Roman Empire in 132 CE.Oppenheimer, A"haron and Oppenheimer, Nili. "Between Rome and Babylon: Studies in Jewish Leadership and Society". Mohr Siebeck, 2005, p. 2. Nevertheless, Jewish presence in the Land of Israel remain continuous and the Galilee became its religious center. The Mishnah and part of the Talmud, central Jewish texts, were compos during the 2nd to 4th centuries CE in Tiberias and Jerusalem. Following years of persecution at the hands of Byzantine rulers, the Jews revolt in 610 CE, allying themselves with the Persian invaders. After capturing Jerusalem, the Persians and Jews kill thousands of Christians and destroy many churches. The Byzantine emperor Heraclius recaptur Jerusalem in 628–629 CE, and was responsible for the massacre and expulsion of the Jews. During the initial Muslim conquests, in 635 CE, the Land of Israel, including Jerusalem, was captur from the Byzantine Empire. Control of the region transferr between the Umayyads, Abbasids, and Crusaders throughout the next six centuries, before falling in the hands of the Mamluk Sultanate, in 1260. In 1516, the Land of Israel was conquer by the Ottoman Empire, which rul the region until the 20th century.
An ancient synagogue (Kfar Bar"am), abandon by the 13th century A.D.Judaism in late antiquity, Jacob Neusner, Bertold Spuler, Hady R Idris, BRILL, 2001, p. 155Art and Judaism in the Greco-Roman world: toward a new Jewish archaeology, Steven Fine, Cambridge University Press, 2005, pp. 13-14
Zionism and the British Mandate

Many Jews living in the Diaspora have long aspir to return to Zion and the Land of Israel, "Zionism, the urge of the Jewish people to return to Palestine, is almost as ancient as the Jewish diaspora itself. Some Talmudic statements... Almost a millennium later, the poet and philosopher Yehuda Halevi... In the 19th century..." though the amount of human effort that should be spent towards such aim is a matter of dispute in Judaism.
That hope and yearning was articulat in the Bible,From the "King James Version of the Bible": "the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity ... and gather you again from all the peoples ... and will bring you into the land which your fathers possess and you shall possess it" (Deut. 30:1–5). and is an important theme of the Jewish belief system. After the Jews were expell from Spain in 1492, some communities settl in Palestine.. "Jews sought a new homeland here after their expulsions from Spain (1492)..." During the 16th century, communities struck roots in the Four Holy Cities—Jerusalem, Tiberias, Hebron, and Saf—and in 1697, Rabbi Yehuda Hachasid l a group of 1,500 Jews to Jerusalem. In the second half of the 18th century, Eastern European opponents of Hasidism, known as the Perushim, settl in Palestine.

alt=A long-beard man in his early forties leaning over a railing with a bridge in the background. Dress in a black overcoat, he gazes blankly into the distance with his hands clasp.
The first large wave of "modern" immigration, known as the First , began in 1881, as Jews fl pogroms in Eastern Europe. The source provides information on the First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Aliyot in their respective articles. The White Paper leading to Bet is discuss Although the Zionist movement already exist in theory, Austro-Hungarian journalist Theodor Herzl is crit with founding political Zionism, "How did Theodor Herzl, an assimilat German nationalist in the 1880s, suddenly in the 1890s become the founder of Zionism?" a movement which sought to establish a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, by elevating the Jewish Question to the international plane. In 1896, Herzl publish "Der Judenstaat" ("The State of the Jews"), offering his vision of a future state; the following year he presid over the first World Zionist Congress.

The Second (1904–1914), began after the Kishinev pogrom; some 40,000 Jews settl in Palestine, but nearly half of them left. Both the first and second waves of migrants were mainly Orthodox Jews,. "As with the First , most Second migrants were non-Zionist orthodox Jews..." but those in the Second includ socialist pioneers who establish the "kibbutz" movement. During World War I, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour issu what became known as the Balfour Declaration, which "view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people". At the request of Edwin Samuel Montagu and Lord Curzon, a line was also insert stating "it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoy by Jews in any other country".

The Jewish Legion, a group of battalions compos primarily of Zionist volunteers, assist in the British conquest of Palestine. Arab opposition to the plan l to the 1920 Palestine riots and the formation of the Jewish organization known as the Haganah (meaning "The Defense" in Hebrew), from which the Irgun and Lehi paramilitary groups split off.. "During the First and Second Aliyot, there were many Arab attacks against Jewish settlements... In 1920, Hashomer was disband and Haganah ("The Defense") was establish." In 1922, the League of Nations grant the Unit Kingdom a mandate over Palestine under terms similar to the Balfour Declaration. The population of the area at that time was prominantly Arab and Muslim, with Jews accounting for about 11% of the population.J. V. W. Shaw , "A Survey of Palestine, Vol 1: Prepar in December 1945 and January 1946 for the Information of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry", Reprint 1991 by The Institute for Palestine Studies, Washington, D.C., page 148

The Third (1919–1923) and Fourth s (1924–1929) brought an additional 100,000 Jews to Palestine. Finally, the rise of Nazism in the 1930s l to the Fifth , with an influx of a quarter of a million Jews. This caus the Arab revolt of 1936–1939 and l the British to cap immigration with the White Paper of 1939. With countries around the world turning away Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust, a clandestine movement known as Bet was organiz to bring Jews to Palestine. By the end of World War II, the Jewish population of Palestine had d to 33% of the total population.
Independence and first years
After 1945, Britain found itself in fierce conflict with the Jewish community, as the Haganah join Irgun and Lehi in arm struggle against British rule. At the same time, thousands of Jewish refugees from Europe sought shelter in Palestine and were turn away or round up and plac in detention camps by the British. In 1947, the British government withdrew from the Mandate of Palestine, stating it was unable to arrive at a solution acceptable to both Arabs and Jews. The newly creat Unit Nations approv the Partition Plan for Palestine (Unit Nations General Assembly Resolution 181) on November 29, 1947, which sought to divide the country into two states—one Arab and one Jewish. Jerusalem was to be designat an international city—a "corpus separatum"—administer by the UN.

The Jewish community accept the plan, but the Arab League and Arab Higher Committee reject it. On December 1, 1947, the Arab Higher Committee proclaim a three-day strike, and Arab bands began attacking Jewish targets. Jews were initially on the defensive as civil war broke out, but they gradually mov onto the offensive. The Palestinian Arab economy collaps and 250,000 Palestinian-Arabs fl or were expell.
David Ben-Gurion proclaiming Israeli independence on May 14, 1948, below a portrait of Theodor Herzl|alt=A single man, adorn on both sides by a dozen sitting men, reads a document to a small audience assembl before him. Behind him are two elongat flags bearing the Star of David and portrait of a beard man in his forties.

On May 14, 1948, the day before the expiration of the British Mandate, the Jewish Agency proclaim independence, naming the country Israel.Clifford, Clark, "Counsel to the President: A Memoir", 1991, P 20. The following day, the armies of four Arab countries—Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq—attack Israel, launching the 1948 Arab–Israeli War; Saudi Arabia sent a military contingent to operate under Egyptian command; Yemen declar war but did not take military action. After a year of fighting, a ceasefire was declar and temporary borders, known as the Green Line, were establish. Jordan annex what became known as the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Egypt took control of the Gaza Strip. About 700,000 Palestinian refugees were expell or fl the country during the conflict.

Israel was accept as a member of the Unit Nations by majority vote on May 11, 1949.

In the early years of the state, the Labor Zionist movement l by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion dominat Israeli politics. These years were mark by an influx of Holocaust survivors and Jews from Arab lands, many of whom fac persecution in and expulsion from their original countries. Consequently, the population of Israel rose from 800,000 to two million between 1948 and 1958. Most arriv as refugees with no possessions and were hous in temporary camps known as "ma"abarot"; by 1952, over 200,000 immigrants were living in these tent cities.; for ma"abarot population, see p. 269. The ne to solve the crisis l Ben-Gurion to sign a reparations agreement with West Germany that trigger mass protests by Jews anger at the idea of Israel accepting financial compensation from Germany for the Holocaust.

In the 1950s, Israel was frequently attack by Palestinian fayeen, mainly from the Egyptian-occupi Gaza Strip. In 1956, Israel join a secret alliance with Great Britain and France aim at regaining control of the Suez Canal, which the Egyptians had nationaliz (see the Suez Crisis). Israel captur the Sinai Peninsula but was pressur to withdraw by the Unit States and the Soviet Union in return for guarantees of Israeli shipping rights in the R Sea and the Canal.

In the early 1960s, Israel captur Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, an architect of the Final Solution, in Argentina and brought him to trial. The trial had a major impact on public awareness of the Holocaust,. "...the Eichmann trial, which did so much to raise public awareness of the Holocaust..." and Eichmann remains the only person ever to be execut by order of an Israeli court.
Conflicts and peace treaties

Arab nationalists l by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser refus to recognize Israel, calling for its destruction. By 1966, Israeli-Arab relations had deteriorat to the point of actual battles taking place between official Israeli and Arab forces. In 1967, Egypt expell UN peacekeepers, station in the Sinai Peninsula since 1957, and announc a partial blockade of Israel"s access to the R Sea. Israel saw these actions as a "casus belli" for a pre-emptive strike that launch a Six-Day War, in which Israel was able to occupy the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights.. "Nasser, the Egyptian president, decid to mass troops in the Sinai...casus belli by Israel." Jerusalem"s boundaries were enlarg, incorporating East Jerusalem, and the 1949 Green Line became the administrative boundary between Israel and the occupi territories.

As the Arab states lost in the 1967 war against Israel, Arab non-state actors came to have a more central role in the conflict. Most important among them is the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), establish in 1964, which initially committ itself to "arm struggle as the only way to liberate the homeland". In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Palestinian groups launch a wave of attacks against Israeli targets around the world,Andrews, Edmund L. and John Kifner. "The New York Times". 27 Jan 2008. Retriev 12 May 2008. including a massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.

On October 6, 1973, as Jews were observing Yom Kippur, the Egyptian and Syrian armies launch a surprise attack against Israel. The war end on October 26 with Israel successfully repelling Egyptian and Syrian forces but suffering massive losses. An internal inquiry exonerat the government of responsibility for failures before and during the war, but public anger forc Prime Minister Golda Meir to resign.

The 1977 Knesset elections mark a major turning point in Israeli political history as Menachem Begin"s Likud party took control from the Labor Party. "In hindsight we can say that 1977 was a turning point..." Later that year, Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat made a trip to Israel and spoke before the Knesset in what was the first recognition of Israel by an Arab head of state. In the two years that follow, Sadat and Menachem Begin sign the Camp David Accords and the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula and agre to enter negotiations over an autonomy for Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Begin"s government encourag Israelis to settle in the West Bank, leading to friction with the Palestinians in that area.
Israeli artillery at the Golan front, during the Yom Kippur War, 1973|alt= Artillery firing
The Jerusalem Law, pass in 1980, was widely believ to have reaffirm Israel"s annexation of Jerusalem and reignit international controversy over the status of the city. However, there has never been an official act that has declar expand East Jerusalem as having been annex by the State of Israel. The position of the majority of UN member states is reflect in numerous resolutions declaring that actions taken by Israel to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the whole of Jerusalem are illegal and have no validity.See for example UN General Assembly resolution 63/30, 2009 Jan 23, pass 163 for, 6 against

In 1982, Israel interven in the Lebanese Civil War to destroy the bases from which the PLO launch attacks and missiles at northern Israel; that move develop into the First Lebanon War. Israel withdrew from most of Lebanon in 1986, but maintain a borderland buffer zone until 2000. The First Intifada, a Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule, broke out in 1987 with waves of violence occurring in the occupi territories. Over the following six years, more than a thousand people were kill in the ensuing violence, much of which was internal Palestinian violence.. "Toward the end of 1991,... were the result of internal Palestinian terror." During the 1991 Gulf War, the PLO and many Palestinians support Saddam Hussein and Iraqi missile attacks against Israel, though Israel did not participate in that war.

In 1992, Yitzhak Rabin became Prime Minister following an election in which his party promot compromise with Israel"s neighbors. The following year, Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas, on behalf of Israel and the PLO, sign the Oslo Accords, which gave the Palestinian National Authority the right to self-govern parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The PLO also recogniz Israel"s right to exist and plg an end to terrorism. In 1994, the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace was sign, making Jordan the second Arab country to normalize relations with Israel.. "Even though Jordan in 1994 became the second country, after Egypt to sign a peace treaty with Israel..." Arab public support for the Accords was damag by the continuation of Israeli settlements and checkpoints, and the deterioration of economic conditions. Israeli public support for the Accords wan as Israel was struck by Palestinian suicide attacks. Finally, while leaving a peace rally in November 1995, Yitzhak Rabin was assassinat by a far-right-wing Jew who oppos the Accords.
Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shake hands at the signing of the Oslo Accords, with Bill Clinton behind them, 1993|alt=A stolid balding man in a dark suit on the left shakes the hand of a smiling man in traditional Arab headdress on the right. A taller, younger man stands with open arms in the center behind them.
At the end of the 1990s, Israel, under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, withdrew from Hebron, and sign the Wye River Memorandum, giving greater control to the Palestinian National Authority. Ehud Barak, elect Prime Minister in 1999, began the new millennium by withdrawing forces from Southern Lebanon and conducting negotiations with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and U.S. President Bill Clinton at the 2000 Camp David Summit. During the summit, Barak offer a plan for the establishment of a Palestinian state, but Yasser Arafat reject it. After the collapse of the talks and a controversial visit by Likud leader Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount, the Second Intifada began. Sharon became prime minister in a 2001 special election. During his tenure, Sharon carri out his plan to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip and also spearhead the construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier.

In July 2006, a Hezbollah artillery assault on Israel"s northern border communities and a cross-border abduction of two Israeli soldiers spark the month-long Second Lebanon War. Unit Nations Security Council, August 11, 2006Escalation of hostilities in Lebanon and in Israel since Hizbollah’s attack on Israel on July 12, 2006 Two years later, in May 2008, Israel confirm it had been discussing a peace treaty with Syria for a year, with Turkey as a go-between. However, at the end of the year, Israel enter another conflict as a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel collaps. The Gaza War last three weeks and end after Israel announc a unilateral ceasefire. Hamas announc its own ceasefire, with its own conditions of complete withdrawal and opening of border crossings. Despite neither the rocket launchings nor Israeli retaliatory strikes having completely stopp, the fragile ceasefire remain in order.
Geography and climate
JNF forest in the Jerusalem hills
Israel is locat at the eastern end of the Miterranean Sea, bound by Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan to the east, and Egypt to the southwest. The sovereign territory of Israel, excluding all territories captur by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War, is approximately in area, of which two percent is water. The total area under Israeli law, when including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, is , and the total area under Israeli control, including the military-controll and partially Palestinian-govern territory of the West Bank, is .
The Sea of Galilee, seen from Tiberias, at dusk
Despite its small size, Israel is home to a variety of geographic features, from the Negev desert in the south to the mountain ranges of the Galilee, Carmel and toward the Golan in the north. The Israeli Coastal Plain on the shores of the Miterranean is home to seventy percent of the nation"s population. East of the central highlands lies the Jordan Rift Valley, which forms a small part of the Great Rift Valley.

The Jordan River runs along the Jordan Rift Valley, from Mount Hermon through the Hulah Valley and the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the surface of the Earth. Further south is the Arabah, ending with the Gulf of Eilat, part of the R Sea. Unique to Israel and the Sinai Peninsula are makhteshim, or erosion cirques. The largest makhtesh in the world is Ramon Crater in the Negev,. "The extraordinary Makhtesh Ramon – the largest natural crater in the world..." which measures . A report on the environmental status of the Miterranean basin states that Israel has the largest number of plant species per square meter of all the countries in the basin.
Climate ===The Dead Sea, the lowest point on land below sea level on e
Temperatures in Israel vary widely, especially during the winter. The more mountainous regions can be windy, cold, and sometimes snowy; Jerusalem usually receives at least one snowfall each year. Meanwhile, coastal cities, such as Tel Aviv and Haifa, have a typical Miterranean climate with cool, rainy winters and long, hot summers. The area of Beersheba and the Northern Negev has a semi-arid climate with hot summers, and cool winter but with fewer rainy than the Miterranean climate. The Southern Negev and the Arava areas have Desert climate with very hot and dry summers, and mild winters with few days of rain. The highest temperature in the continent of Asia () was record in 1942 at Tirat Zvi kibbutz in the northern Jordan river valley.

From May to September, rain in Israel is rare. With scarce water resources, Israel has develop various water-saving technologies, including drip irrigation. Israelis also take advantage of the considerable sunlight available for solar energy, making Israel the leading nation in solar energy use per capita (practically every house uses solar panels for water heating).
Flora and fauna ===A Blanford"s fox, in Southern Is
Four different phytogeographic regions exist in Israel, due to the country"s location between the temperate and the tropical zones, bordering the Miterranean Sea in the west and the desert in the east. For this reason the flora and fauna of Israel is extremely diverse. There are 2,867 known species of plants found in Israel. Of these, at least 253 species are introduc and non-native. As of May 2007, there are 190 Israeli nature reserves.
Government, politics and legal system

The Knesset building, home of the Israeli parliament.
Israel operates under a parliamentary system as a democratic republic with universal suffrage. The President of Israel is the head of state, but his duties are limit and largely ceremonial. A Parliament Member support by a majority in parliament becomes the Prime Minister, usually the chairman of the largest party. The Prime Minister is the head of government and head of the Cabinet.In the 1990s, direct elections for Prime Minister were inaugurat but the system was declar unsatisfactory and the old one was brought back. See Israel is govern by a 120-member parliament, known as the Knesset. Membership of the Knesset is bas on proportional representation of political parties, with a 2% electoral threshold, which commonly results in coalition governments.

Parliamentary elections are schul every four years, but unstable coalitions or a no-confidence vote by the Knesset often dissolves governments earlier. "The average life span of an Israeli government is 22 months. The peace process, the role of religion in the state, and political scandals have caus coalitions to break apart or produc early elections."
The Basic Laws of Israel function as an uncodifi constitution. In 2003, the Knesset began to draft an official constitution bas on these laws.
Legal system

The Israeli Supreme Court, Givat Ram, Jerusalem.
Israel has a three-tier court system. At the lowest level are magistrate courts, situat in most cities across the country. Above them are district courts, serving both as appellate courts and courts of first instance; they are situat in five of Israel"s six districts. The third and highest tier in Israel is the Supreme Court, seat in Jerusalem. It serves a dual role as the highest court of appeals and the High Court of Justice. In the latter role, the Supreme Court rules as a court of first instance, allowing individuals, both citizens and non-citizens, to petition against decisions of state authorities. Although Israel supports the goals of the International Criminal Court, it has not ratifi the Rome Statute, citing concerns about the ability of the court to remain free from political impartiality.

In addition to the three-tier court system describ above (also known as the "General Court system") Israel has also a system of specializ Labour Courts, similar to those found in Continental Europe. The Labour Courts have unique jurisdiction over labour matters (both on the individual and collective spheres) as well as social welfare matters (e.g. law suits relat to pensions, social security benefits, healthcare, etc.). Each one of the five judicial districts has one Regional Labour Court which serves as a first instance court for those matters describ above.

Most matters in Labour Courts are adjudicat by a three-panel consisting of one professional judge, and two lay representatives nominat to the court with the consent of the largest employees and employers unions (one representative term as "Employees Representative" and the other as "Employers Representative"). Some matters (e.g. criminal cases relat to labour law) are adjudicat by a professional judge only. The National Labour Court, situat in Jerusalem, serves as an appeal court as well as a first-instance court for matters with national importance (e.g. collective bargaining disputes, on a national level, between employees and employers unions).

Israel"s legal system combines English common law, civil law, and Jewish law. It is bas on the principle of "stare decisis" (precent) and is an adversarial system, where the parties in the suit bring evidence before the court. Court cases are decid by professional judges rather than juries. Marriage and divorce are under the jurisdiction of the religious courts: Jewish, Muslim, Druze, and Christian. A committee of Knesset members, Supreme Court justices, and Israeli Bar members carries out the election of judges.
Administration of Israel"s courts (both the "General" courts and the Labor Courts) is carri by the Administration of Courts, situat in Jerusalem. It is to be not that both the General and Labor courts are paperless courts, i.e. storage of court files, as well as court decisions, are carri out electronically.

Israel"s Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty seeks to defend human rights and liberties in Israel. Israel is the only country in the region rank "Free" by Freom House bas on the level of civil liberties and political rights; the "Israeli Occupi Territories/Palestinian Authority" was rank "Not Free." In 2010, Israel was also the only country in the Middle East to be rank "free" by Freom House"s "Freom of the Press report, ranking the highest in the region.
Administrative districts

Districts of Israel: (1) Northern, (2) Haifa, (3) Center, (4) Tel Aviv, (5) Jerusalem, (6) Southern|upright
The State of Israel is divid into six main administrative districts, known as "mehozot" (מחוזות; singular: "mahoz") – Center, Haifa, Jerusalem, North, Southern, and Tel Aviv Districts. Districts are further divid into fifteen sub-districts known as "nafot" (נפות; singular: "nafa"), which are themselves partition into fifty natural regions.

For statistical purposes, the country is divid into three metropolitan areas: Tel Aviv metropolitan area (population 3,206,400), Haifa metropolitan area (population 1,021,000), and Beer Sheva metropolitan area (population 559,700). Israel"s largest municipality, both in population and area, is Jerusalem with 773,800 residents in an area of 126 square kilometers (49 sq mi) (in 2009).

Israeli government statistics on Jerusalem include the population and area of East Jerusalem, which is widely recogniz as part of the Palestinian territories under Israeli occupation. Although East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights have been brought directly under Israeli law, by acts that amount to annexation, both of these areas continue to be view by the international community as occupi, and their status as regards the applicability of international rules is in most respects identical to that of the West Bank and Gaza. Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Rishon LeZion rank as Israel"s next most populous cities, with populations of 393,900, 265,600, and 227,600 respectively.
Occupi territories

In 1967, as a result of the Six-Day War, Israel gain control of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza strip and the Golan Heights. Israel also took control of the Sinai Peninsula, but return it to Egypt as part of the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty.

Map of Israel showing the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights
Following Israel"s capture of these territories, settlements consisting of Israeli citizens were establish within each of them. Israel has appli civilian law to the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, incorporating them into its territory and offering their inhabitants permanent residency status and the possibility to become full citizen if they ask it. In contrast, the West Bank has remain under military occupation, and it and the Gaza Strip are seen by the Palestinians and most of the international community as the site of a future Palestinian state. The UN Security Council has declar the incorporation of the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem to be "null and void" and continues to view the territories as occupi.
The International Court of Justice, principal judicial organ of the Unit Nations, determin in its 2004 advisory opinion on the legality of the construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier that the lands captur by Israel in the Six-Day War, including East Jerusalem, are occupi territory.

The status of East Jerusalem in any future peace settlement has at times been a difficult hurdle in negotiations between Israeli governments and representatives of the Palestinians. Most negotiations relating to the territories have been on the basis of Unit Nations Security Council Resolution 242, which emphasises " the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war", and calls on Israel to withdraw from occupi territories in return for normalization of relations with Arab states, a principle known as "Land for peace".

The West Bank was annex by Jordan in 1948, following the Arab rejection of the UN decision to create two states in Palestine. Only Britain recogniz this annexation and Jordan has since c its claim to the territory to the PLO. The West Bank was occupi by Israel in 1967. The population are mainly Arab Palestinians, including refugees of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. From their occupation in 1967 until 1993, the Palestinians living in these territories were under Israeli military administration. Since the Israel-PLO letters of recognition, most of the Palestinian population and cities have been under the internal jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, and only partial Israeli military control, although Israel has on several occasions reploy its troops and reinstat full military administration during periods of unrest. In response to increasing attacks as part of the Second Intifada, the Israeli government start to construct the Israeli West Bank barrier. When complet, approximately 13 % of the Barrier will be construct on the Green Line or in Israel with 87 % inside the West Bank.

The Gaza Strip was occupi by Egypt from 1948 to 1967 and then by Israel after 1967. In 2005, as part of Israel"s unilateral disengagement plan, Israel remov all of its settlers and forces from the territory. Israel does not consider the Gaza Strip to be occupi territory and declar it a "foreign territory". That view has been disput by numerous international humanitarian organizations and various bodies of the Unit Nations. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN), 23 January 2009 International Committee of the R Cross, 13 December 2007 Human Rights Watch, January 2006. p. 1 Unit Nations Human Rights Council, 15 September 2009. p. 85 Amnesty International, 1 December 2006 Following June 2007, when Hamas assum power in the Gaza Strip, Israel tighten its control of the Gaza crossings along its border, as well as by sea and air, and prevent persons from entering and exiting the area except for isolat cases it deem humanitarian. Gaza has a border with Egypt and an agreement between Israel, the EU, the PA and Egypt govern how border crossing would take place (it was monitor by European observers), portal and files until June 2006, following the abduction of the soldier Gilad Shalit, when the crossing agreement ceas to exist. As of 2010 the Rafah border crossing was controll by Egypt. Internal control of Gaza is in the hands of Hamas.
Foreign relations

Israel maintains diplomatic relations with 161 countries and has 94 diplomatic missions around the world. Only three members of the Arab League have normaliz relations with Israel; Egypt and Jordan sign peace treaties in 1979 and 1994, respectively, and Mauritania opt for full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1999. Two other members of the Arab League, Morocco and Tunisia, which had some diplomatic relations with Israel, sever them at the start of the Second Intifada in 2000. Since 2003, ties with Morocco have been improv, and Israel"s foreign minister has visit the country.

As a result of the 2009 Gaza War, Mauritania, Qatar, Bolivia, and Venezuela suspend political and economical ties with Israel. Under Israeli law, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Yemen are enemy countries and Israeli citizens may not visit them without permission from the Ministry of the Interior. Since 1995, Israel has been a member of the Miterranean Dialogue, which fosters cooperation between seven countries in the Miterranean Basin and the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Shimon Peres, current President of Israel, greet by U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House.|thumb|right Foreign relations with Unit States, Germany, and India are among Israel"s strongest.

The Unit States was the first country to recognize the State of Israel, follow by the Soviet Union. The Unit States may regard Israel as its primary ally in the Middle East, bas on "common democratic values, religious affinities, and security interests". The Unit States has provid total economic and military funding to Israel of over $100bn since 1962 under the Foreign Assistance Act, more than any other country, and Israel currently receives more than half of the total annual funds from the Unit States Foreign Military Financing program. Their bilateral relations are multidimensional and the Unit States is the principal proponent of the Arab-Israeli peace process. The Unit States and Israeli views differ on some issues, such as the Golan Heights, Jerusalem, and settlements.

India establish full diplomatic ties with Israel in 1992 and has foster a strong military, technological and cultural partnership with the country since then. One study reveal that India was the most pro-Israel nation in the world. India is the largest customer of Israeli military equipment and Israel is the second-largest military partner of India after the Russian Feration. India is also the second-largest Asian economic partner of Israel and the two countries enjoy extensive space technology ties.

Germany"s strong ties with Israel include cooperation on scientific and ucational endeavors and the two states remain strong economic and military partners. Under the reparations agreement, as of 2007 Germany had paid 25 billion euros in reparations to the Israeli state and individual Israeli holocaust survivors. The UK has kept full diplomatic relations with Israel since its formation having had two visits from heads of state in 2007. Relations between the two countries were also made stronger by former prime minister Tony Blair"s efforts for a two state resolution. The UK is seen as having a "natural" relationship with Israel on account of the British Mandate for Palestine. Iran had diplomatic relations with Israel under the Pahlavi dynasty but withdrew its recognition of Israel during the Iranian Revolution.

Although Turkey and Israel did not establish full diplomatic relations until 1991,. "However, it was not until 1991 that the two countries establish full diplomatic relations." Turkey has cooperat with the State since its recognition of Israel in 1949. Turkey"s ties to the other Muslim-majority nations in the region have at times result in pressure from Arab and Muslim states to temper its relationship with Israel. Relations between Turkey and Israel took a downturn after the Gaza War and Israel"s raid of the Gaza flotilla. IHH, which organiz the flotilla, is a Turkish charity that some believe has ties to Hamas and Al-Qaa.

In Africa, Ethiopia is Israel"s main and closest ally in the continent due to common political, religious and security interests. Israel provides expertise to Ethiopia on irrigation projects and thousands of Ethiopian Jews (Beta Israel) live in Israel.
Two Israeli Air Force F-15I Ra"am at R Flag
The Israel Defense Forces consists of the Israeli Army, Israeli Air Force and Israeli Navy. It was found during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War by consolidating paramilitary organizations—chiefly the Haganah—that prec the establishment of the state. The IDF also draws upon the resources of the Military Intelligence Directorate ("Aman"), which works with the Mossad and Shabak. The Israel Defense Forces have been involv in several major wars and border conflicts in its short history, making it one of the most battle-train arm forces in the world.

The majority of Israelis are draft into the military at the age of eighteen. Men serve three years and women serve two to three years. Following compulsory service, Israeli men join the reserve forces and do several weeks of reserve duty every year until their forties. Most women are exempt from reserve duty. Arab citizens of Israel (except the Druze) and those engag in full-time religious studies are exempt from military service, although the exemption of yeshiva students has been a source of contention in Israeli society for many years. An alternative for those who receive exemptions on various grounds is "Sherut Leumi", or national service, which involves a program of service in hospitals, schools and other social welfare frameworks. As a result of its conscription program, the IDF maintains approximately 168,000 active troops and an additional 408,000 reservists.
Israeli soldiers training alongside the 26th Marine Expitionary Unit on the USS "Kearsarge"
The nation"s military relies heavily on high-tech weapons systems design and manufactur in Israel as well as some foreign imports. The Unit States is a particularly notable foreign contributor; military aid to Israel is expect to by 6 billion over the next decade. US is expect to provide the country with $3.15 billion per year from 2013-2018.
The Israeli- and U.S.-design Arrow missile is one of the world"s only operational anti-ballistic missile systems.
Namer (Heavy IFV), introduc from 2008
Since the Yom Kippur War, Israel has develop a network of reconnaissance satellites. The success of the "Ofeq" program has made Israel one of seven countries capable of launching such satellites. The country has also develop its own main battle tank, the Merkava. Since its establishment, Israel has spent a significant portion of its gross domestic product on defense. In 1984, for example, the country spent 24% (first appear in Information Brief No. 64) of its GDP on defense. Today, that figure has dropp to 7.3%.

Israel is widely believ to possess nuclear weapons. Israel has not sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and maintains a policy of deliberate ambiguity toward its nuclear capabilities. Israel"s policy of nuclear ambiguity may have play an important role in subduing Israel"s enemies.Ziv, Guy, "To Disclose or Not to Disclose: The Impact of Nuclear Ambiguity on Israeli Security," Israel Studies Forum, Vol. 22, No. 2 (Winter 2007): 76–94

After the Gulf War in 1991, when Israel was attack by Iraqi Scud missiles, a law was pass requiring all apartments and homes in Israel to have a "mamad," a reinforc security room impermeable to chemical and biological substances.
International deployments
After the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, Israel mobiliz a team of 150 IDF doctors and rescue and relief teams, which were to set up a field hospital in Sri Lanka. After the Sri Lankan government reject this offer, Israel instead flew in 82 tonnes of humanitarian aid along with a small number of IDF personnel. Israel also sent in rescue workers and mical personnel to other countries, along with relief workers and body identifiers from ZAKA and the Israel Police. Israel also donat USD $100,000 to each affect country.

After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, a rescue team was dispatch to Haiti, which consist of 40 doctors, 20 nurses and rescue workers, and two rescue planes load with mical equipment and a field hospital with X-rays, intensive care units, and operating rooms. The Israel Defense Forces set up a satellite communications room with phone and wireless internet access and video conference systems so that surgeons could consult mical experts in Israel. A Magen David Adom delegation arriv on January 17 to establish field clinics in cooperation with local rescue services. The Israeli rescue team remain in Haiti until January 28. Following a request from the Unit States and Unit Nations, Israel sent 100 police officers as peacekeepers to Haiti. A group of police forensics investigators to assist in the identification of victims was also sent, along with 220 Home Front Command search and rescue teams and Israeli Mical Corps personnel.

Tel Aviv skyline
Israel is consider one of the most advanc countries in Southwest Asia in economic and industrial development. In 2010, it join the OECD. The country is rank 3rd in the region on the World Bank"s Ease of Doing Business Index as well as in the World Economic Forum"s Global Competitiveness Report. It has the second-largest number of startup companies in the world (after the Unit States) and the largest number of NASDAQ-list companies outside North America.

An IAI Galaxy G200 transcontinental business jet, design and produc by Israel Aircraft Industries.|alt=A small white jet aircraft, with two jet engines on its tail, on the tarmac

In 2009, Israel had the 49th-highest gross domestic product and 29th-highest gross domestic product per capita (at purchasing power parity) at $206.4 billion and $28,393, respectively. The New Israeli Shekel is one of 17 freely convertible currencies according to the CLS list.

In 2010, Israel rank 17th among of the world"s most economically develop nations, according to IMD"s World Competitiveness Yearbook. The Israeli economy was rank first as the world"s most durable economy in the face of crises, and was also rank first in the rate of research and development center investments.

The Bank of Israel was rank first among central banks for its efficient functioning, up from the 8th place in 2009. Israel was also rank as the worldwide leader in its supply of skill manpower.

Despite limit natural resources, intensive development of the agricultural and industrial sectors over the past decades has made Israel largely self-sufficient in food production, apart from grains and beef. Other major imports to Israel, totaling $47.8 billion in 2006, include fossil fuels, raw materials, and military equipment. Leading exports include fruits, vegetables, pharmaceuticals, software, chemicals, military technology, and diamonds; in 2006, Israeli exports reach $42.86 billion.

Israel is a global leader in water conservation and geothermal energy, and its development of cutting-ge technologies in software, communications and the life sciences have evok comparisons with Silicon Valley. Intel and Microsoft built their first overseas research and development centers in Israel, and other high-tech multi-national corporations, such as IBM, Cisco Systems, and Motorola, have open facilities in the country. In July 2007, U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett"s Berkshire Hathaway bought an Israeli company Iscar, its first non-U.S. acquisition, for $4 billion. Since the 1970s, Israel has receiv economic and military aid from the Unit States, whose loans account for the bulk of Israel"s external debt.

Tourism, especially religious tourism, is an important industry in Israel, with the country"s temperate climate, beaches, archaeological and historical sites, and unique geography also drawing tourists. Israel"s security problems have taken their toll on the industry, but the number of incoming tourists is on the rebound. In 2008, over 3 million tourists visit Israel. Israel has the highest number of museums per capita in the world.

Arrivals terminal at Ben Gurion International Airport|alt=A large hall, with tall round columns; dozens of people standing or walking, around an entrance in the left wall. The area around the entrance is partition for the most part from the rest of the hall.
Israel has 18,096 kilometers (11,244 mi) of pav roads, and 2.4 million motor vehicles. The number of motor vehicles per 1,000 persons was 324, relatively low with respect to develop countries. Israel has 5,715 buses on schul routes, operat by several carriers, the largest of which is Egg, serving most of the country. Railways stretch across 949 kilometers (590 mi) and are operat solely by government-own Israel Railways (All figures are for 2008). Following major investments beginning in the early-to-mid 1990s, the number of train passengers per year has grown from 2.5 million in 1990, to 35 million in 2008; railways are also us to transport 6.8 million tons of cargo, per year.

Israel is serv by two international airports, Ben Gurion International Airport, the country"s main hub for international air travel near Tel Aviv-Yafo, Ovda Airport in the south, as well as several small domestic airports. Airports serv 11.1 million passengers (entries and departures) in 2008, 11 million passing through Ben Gurion airport.

On the Miterranean coast, Haifa Port is the country"s oldest and largest port, while Ashdod Port is one of the few deep water ports in the world built on the open sea. In addition to these, the smaller Port of Eilat is situat on the R Sea, and is us mainly for trading with Far East countries.
Science, technology and ucation

The particle accelerator at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot|alt=A night-time image of a gray windowless tower, with an egg-shap window observation deck on top. Next to it is a low building, grass, and many trees and bushes.
Israel has the highest school life expectancy in Southwest Asia, and is ti with Japan for second-highest school life expectancy on the Asian continent (after South Korea). Israel similarly has the highest literacy rate in Southwest Asia, according to the Unit Nations. The State Education Law, pass in 1953, establish five types of schools: state secular, state religious, ultra orthodox, communal settlement schools, and Arab schools. The public secular is the largest school group, and is attend by the majority of Jewish and non-Arab pupils in Israel. Most Arabs send their children to schools where Arabic is the language of instruction.

Education is compulsory in Israel for children between the ages of three and eighteen. Schooling is divid into three tiers – primary school (grades 1–6), middle school (grades 7–9), and high school (grades 10–12) – culminating with "Bagrut" matriculation exams. Proficiency in core subjects such as mathematics, Bible, Hebrew language, Hebrew and general literature, English, history, and civics is necessary to receive a Bagrut certificate. In Arab, Christian and Druze schools, the exam on Biblical studies is replac by an exam in Islam, Christianity or Druze heritage. In 2003, over half of all Israeli twelfth graders earn a matriculation certificate.

Israel"s eight public universities are subsidiz by the state. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel"s oldest university, houses the Jewish National and University Library, the world"s largest repository of books on Jewish subjects. The Hebrew University is consistently rank among world"s 100 top universities by the prestigious ARWU academic ranking. Other major universities in the country include the Technion, the Weizmann Institute of Science, Tel Aviv University (TAU), Bar-Ilan University, the University of Haifa, The Open University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Israel"s seven research universities (excluding the Open University) are consistently rank among top 500 in the world. Israel ranks third in the world in the number of academic degrees per capita (20 percent of the population). Israel has produc five Nobel Prize-winning scientists since 2002 and publishes among the most scientific papers per capita of any country in the world.

The world"s largest solar parabolic dish at the Ben-Gurion National Solar Energy Center., John Lettice, "The Register", 2008 Jan 25
Israel leads world in stem cell research papers per capita since 2000. In addition, Israeli universities are among 100 top world universities in mathematics (TAU, Hebrew University and Technion), physics (TAU, Hebrew University and Weizmann Institute of Science), chemistry (TAU, Hebrew University and Technion), computer science (TAU, Hebrew University, Weizmann Institute of Science, BIU and Technion) and economics (TAU and Hebrew University).

In 2009 Israel was rank 2nd among 20 top countries in space sciences by Thomson Reuters agency. Since 1988 Israel Aerospace Industries have indigenously design and built at least 13 commercial, research and spy satellites. Most were launch to orbit from Israeli air force base "Palmachim" by the Shavit space launch vehicle. Some of Israel"s satellites are rank among the world"s most advanc space systems. In 2003, Ilan Ramon became Israel"s first astronaut, serving as payload specialist of STS-107, the fatal mission of the Space Shuttle "Columbia".

Israel has embrac solar energy, its engineers are on the cutting ge of solar energy technology, Linda Gradstein, "National Public Radio", 2007 October 22. and its solar companies work on projects around the world., Neal Sandler,"BusinessWeek", 2008 March 26., Tom Parry, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 15 August 2007 Over 90% of Israeli homes use solar energy for hot water, the highest "per capita" in the world. According to government figures, the country saves 8% of its electricity consumption per year because of its solar energy use in heating. The high annual incident solar irradiance at its geographic latitude creates ideal conditions for what is an internationally renown solar research and development industry in the Negev Desert.

Comparison of the changes in percentages of the main religious group in Israel between the years 1949-2008
After reaching 7,406,900 inhabitants according to initial data from the 2008 census, in 2010 Israel"s population was an estimat 7.6 million, of whom 5,776,500 are Jews. As of 2008, Arab citizens of Israel comprise just under 20% of the country"s total population.

Israel has two official languages, Hebrew and Arabic. Hebrew is the primary language of the state and is spoken by the majority of the population, and Arabic is spoken by the Arab minority. Many Israelis communicate reasonably well in English, as many television programs are broadcast in this language and English is taught from the early grades in elementary school. As a country of immigrants, many languages can be heard on the streets. Due to mass immigration from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia (some 120,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel),. Reuters. 16 July 2009 Russian and Amharic are widely spoken.. "USA Today" 16 August 2008 Between 1990 and 1994, the Russian immigration d Israel"s population by twelve percent. Out of more than one million Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel,, "Haaretz", 10 February 2008 about 300,000 are consider gentile by the Orthodox rabbinate, because, under the Orthodox interpretation, only children to Jewish mothers are consider Jews., The Economist, 11 March 2010. "Haaretz"

Over the last decade, large numbers of migrant workers from Romania, Thailand, China, Africa and South America have settl in Israel. Exact figures are unknown as many of them are living in the country illegally,. Integrat Regional Information Networks (IRIN). 14 July 2009 but estimates run in the region of 200,000.Adriana Kemp, "Labour migration and racialisation: labour market mechanisms and labour migration control policies in Israel", "Social Identities" 10:2, 267–292, 2004 Over 16,000 African asylum seekers have enter Israel in recent years., ABC News, 12 August 2009 The main language amongst deaf Israelis is Israeli Sign Language (ISL).

Retention of Israel"s population since 1948 is about even or greater, when compar to other countries with mass immigration. Emigration from Israel (yerida) to other countries, primarily the Unit States and Canada, is describ by demographers as modest, but is often cit by Israeli government ministries as a major threat to Israel"s future.

As of 2009 over 300,000 Israeli citizens live in West Bank settlements such as Ma"ale Adumim and Ariel, and communities that prat the establishment of the State but were re-establish after the Six-Day War, in cities such as Hebron and Gush Etzion. 18,000 Israelis live in Golan Heights settlements. In 2006, there were 250,000 Jews living in East Jerusalem. The total number of Israeli settlers is over 500,000 (6.5% of the Israeli population). Approximately 7,800 Israelis liv in settlements in the Gaza Strip until they were evacuat by the government as part of its 2005 disengagement plan.

Israel was establish as a homeland for the Jewish people and is often referr to as a Jewish state. The country"s Law of Return grants all Jews and those of Jewish lineage the right to Israeli citizenship. Just over three quarters, or 75.5%, of the population are Jews from a diversity of Jewish backgrounds. Approximately 68% of Israeli Jews are Israeli-born, 22% are immigrants from Europe and the Americas, and 10% are immigrants from Asia and Africa (including the Arab World).Aharoni, Ada , Historical Society of Jews from Egypt website. Retriev 1 February 2009. Jews who left or fl Arab and Muslim lands and their descendants constitute approximately 50% of Jewish Israelis.,, 3 April 2009

The Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem|alt=A large open area with hundrs of people, bound by old stone walls. Beyond it are houses and a few trees, to the right is a mosque with large golden dome, and to the left – a minaret
The religious affiliation of Israeli Jews varies widely: A Social Survey for those over the age of 20 indicates that 55% say they are "traditional," while 20% consider themselves "secular Jews," 17% define themselves as "Religious Zionists"; 8% define themselves as "Hari Jews." Only 5% of Israel"s population in 1990,",, July 9, 2009. the ultra-Orthodox, or Harim, are expect to represent more than one-fifth of Israel"s Jewish population in 2028",, November 24, 2009

Making up 16% of the population, Muslims constitute Israel"s largest religious minority. About 2% of the population are Christian and 1.5% are Druze.

Church of Transfiguration, Mount Tabor|alt=A light color stone church with a triangular roof, with two towers flanking the entrance, in the background. In the foreground are low stone walls, a tree and some bushes
The Christian population includes both Arab Christians, Post-Soviet immigrants and the Foreign Labourers of multi-national origins and Messianic Jews. Members of many other religious groups, including Buddhists and Hindus, maintain a presence in Israel, albeit in small numbers.

The city of Jerusalem is of special importance to Jews, Muslims and Christians as it is the home of sites that are pivotal to their religious beliefs, such as the Israeli-controll Old City that incorporates the Western Wall and the Temple Mount, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Other landmarks of religious importance are locat in the West Bank, among them Joseph"s tomb in Shechem, the birthplace of Jesus and Rachel"s Tomb in Bethlehem, and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

The administrative center of the Bahá"í Faith and the Shrine of the Báb are locat at the Bahá"í World Centre in Haifa and the leader of the faith is buri in Acre. Apart from maintenance staff, there is no Bahá"í community in Israel, although it is a destination for pilgrimages. Bahá"í staff in Israel do not teach their faith to Israelis following strict policy.

Israel"s diverse culture stems from the diversity of the population: Jews from around the world have brought their cultural and religious traditions with them, creating a melting pot of Jewish customs and beliefs. Israel is the only country in the world where life revolves around the Hebrew calendar. Work and school holidays are determin by the Jewish holidays, and the official day of rest is Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. Israel"s substantial Arab minority has also left its imprint on Israeli culture in such spheres as architecture, music, and cuisine.
Literature ===Hebrew Book Week in Jerus

Israeli literature is primarily poetry and prose written in Hebrew, as part of the renaissance of Hebrew as a spoken language since the mid-19th century, although a small body of literature is publish in other languages, such as English. By law, two copies of all print matter publish in Israel must be deposit in the Jewish National and University Library at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2001, the law was amend to include audio and video recordings, and other non-print mia. In 2006, 85 percent of the 8,000 books transferr to the library were in Hebrew.

The Hebrew Book Week (He: ) is held each June and features book fairs, public readings, and appearances by Israeli authors around the country. During the week, Israel"s top literary award, the Sapir Prize, is present.

In 1966, Shmuel Yosef Agnon shar the Nobel Prize in Literature with German Jewish author Nelly Sachs.

Israel has also been the home of two leading Palestinian poets and writers: Emile Habibi, whose novel "The Secret Life of Sae the Pessoptimist", and other writings, won him the Israel prize for Arabic literature; and Mahmoud Darwish, consider by many to be "the Palestinian national poet." 9 August 2008 "Palestinian "national poet" dies" Darwish was born and rais in northern Israel, but liv his adult life in exile after joining the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Music and dance

Israeli music contains musical influences from all over the world; Sephardic music, Hasidic melodies, Belly dancing music, Greek music, jazz, and pop rock are all part of the music scene.

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conduct by Zubin Mehta|alt=Several dozen musicians in formal dress, holding their instruments, behind a conductor
The nation"s canonical folk songs, known as "Songs of the Land of Israel," deal with the experiences of the pioneers in building the Jewish homeland.

Among Israel"s world-renown orchestras is the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, which has been in operation for over seventy years and today performs more than two hundr concerts each year. Israel has also produc many musicians of note, some achieving international stardom. Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman and Ofra Haza are among the internationally acclaim musicians born in Israel.

Israel has participat in the Eurovision Song Contest nearly every year since 1973, winning the competition three times and hosting it twice. Eilat has host its own international music festival, the R Sea Jazz Festival, every summer since 1987.

Modern dance in Israel is a flourishing field, and several Israeli choreographers such as Ohad Naharin, Rami Beer, Barak Marshall and many others, are consider to be among the most versatile and original international creators working today. Famous Israeli companies include the Batsheva Dance Company and the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company.

Israel is home to many Palestinian musicians, including internationally acclaim oud and violin virtuoso Taiseer Elias, singer Amal Murkus, and brothers Samir and Wissam Joubran. Israeli Arab musicians have achiev fame beyond Israel"s borders: Elias and Murkus frequently play to audiences in Europe and America, and oud player Darwish Darwish (Prof. Elias"s student) was award first prize in the all-Arab oud contest in Egypt in 2003. The Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance has an advanc degree program, head by Taiseer Elias, in Arabic music.
Cinema and theatre

Nine Israeli films have been final nominees for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards since the establishment of Israel. The 2009 movie "Ajami" was the third consecutive nomination of an Israeli film.

Continuing the strong theatrical traditions of the Yiddish theater in Eastern Europe, Israel maintains a vibrant theatre scene. Found in 1918, Habima Theatre in Tel Aviv is Israel"s oldest repertory theater company and national theater.

Palestinian Israeli filmmakers have made a number of films, some of them very controversial, dealing with the Arab-Israel conflict and the status of Palestinians within Israel. Mohamm Bakri"s 2002 film Jenin, Jenin, about an Israeli military action in the West Bank town of Jenin, won the Best Film award at the Carthage International film festival, but was widely criticiz within Israel for distorting the story of the battle. Ajami, a 2009 film about violence and discrimination in a mix Jewish-Arab neighborhood in south Tel Aviv-Jaffa, was written and direct jointly by Palestinain Scandar Copti and Jewish Israeli Yaron Shani. It won an honorable mention in the Cannes Film Festival. The Syrian Bride, about a Druze wding between families on opposite sides of the Israel-Syrian ceasefire line in the Golan Heights, was direct by a Jewish Israeli (Eran Riklis), but had an almost completely Druze cast.

Shrine of the Book, repository of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Jerusalem|alt=A gray semi-hemispherical structure with a protruding top, standing in the middle of a fountain, with several jets of water falling on the structure
The Israel Museum in Jerusalem is one of Israel"s most important cultural institutions and houses the Dead Sea scrolls, along with an extensive collection of Judaica and European art.

Israel"s national Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, houses the world"s largest archive of Holocaust-relat information.

Beth Hatefutsoth (the Diaspora Museum), on the campus of Tel Aviv University, is an interactive museum devot to the history of Jewish communities around the world.

Apart from the major museums in large cities, there are high-quality artspaces in many towns and "kibbutzim". "Mishkan Le"Omanut" on Kibbutz Ein Harod Meuhad is the largest art museum in the north of the country.

Several museums are devot to Islamic culture, including the Rockefeller Museum, which specializes in archaeological remains from the Ottoman and other periods of Middle East history, and the , also in Jerusalem.

Sports and physical fitness have not always been paramount in Jewish culture. Athletic prowess, which was priz by the ancient Greeks, was look down upon as an unwelcome intrusion of Hellenistic values. Maimonides, who was both a rabbi and a physician, emphasiz the importance of regular exercise in preventing illness on the authority of Hippocrates and Galen. This approach receiv a boost in the 19th century from the physical culture campaign of Max Nordau, and in the early 20th century when the Chief Rabbi of Palestine, Abraham Isaac Kook, declar that "the body serves the soul, and only a healthy body can ensure a healthy soul".

Windsurfer Gal Fridman, winner of Israel"s first Olympic gold mal|alt=A young man surfing on a windsurf board in the sea, with another surfer in the background
The Maccabiah Games, an Olympic-style event for Jewish athletes and Israeli athletes, was inaugurat in the 1930s, and has been held every four years since then. In 1964 Israel host and won the Asian Nations Cup; in 1970 the Israel national football team manag to qualify to the FIFA World Cup, which is still consider the biggest achievement of Israeli football.

Israel was exclud from the 1978 Asian Games due to Arab pressure on the organizers. The exclusion left Israel in limbo and it ceas competing in Asian competitions. In 1994, UEFA agre to admit Israel and all Israeli sporting organizations now compete in Europe.

Ramat Gan Stadium, Israel"s largest stadium
The most popular spectator sports in Israel are association football and basketball. The Israeli Premier League is the country"s premier soccer league, and Ligat HaAl is the premier basketball league. Maccabi Haifa, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Beitar Jerusalem are the largest sports clubs. Maccabi Tel Aviv, Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Tel Aviv have compet in the UEFA Champions League and Hapoel Tel Aviv reach the final quarter in the UEFA Cup. Maccabi Tel Aviv B.C. has won the European championship in basketball five times. Israeli tennis champion Shahar Pe"er rank 19th in the world after competing in Dubai.

Beersheba has become a national chess center; thanks to Soviet immigration, it is home to the largest number of chess grandmasters of any city in the world. The city host the World Team Chess Championship in 2005, and chess is taught in the city"s kindergartens. The Israeli chess team won the silver mal at the 2008 Chess Olympiad and the bronze at the 2010 Olympiad. Israeli grandmaster Boris Gelfand is the current Chess World Cup holder.

To date, Israel has won seven Olympic mals since its first win in 1992, including a gold mal in windsurfing at the 2004 Summer Olympics. Israel has won over 100 gold mals in the Paralympic Games and is rank about 15th in the all-time mal count. The 1968 Summer Paralympics were host by Israel.

Israeli cuisine comprises local dishes and dishes brought to the country by Jewish immigrants from around the world. Since the establishment of the State in 1948, and particularly since the late 1970s, an Israeli fusion cuisine has develop.

Israeli cuisine has adopt, and continues to adapt, elements of various styles of the Jewish cuisine, particularly the Mizrahi, Sephardic, and Ashkenazi styles of cooking, along with Moroccan Jewish, Iraqi Jewish, Ethiopian Jewish, Indian Jewish, Iranian Jewish and Yemeni Jewish influences. It incorporates many foods traditionally eaten in the Arab, Middle Eastern and Miterranean cuisines, as falafel, hummus, shakshouka, couscous, and za"atar have become essential dishes n Israel.
See also
* National symbols of Israel
* Outline of Israel


External links

* (with links to Arabic, Hebrew versions)

;General reference
* from the Encyclopædia Britannica
* (1988) from Library of Congress Country Studies
* fact file at Ynetnews


Geographic locale
|list =



Category:Countries of the Miterranean Sea
Category:Countries bordering the R Sea
Category:Middle Eastern countries
Category:Southwest Asian countries
Category:Eastern Miterranean countries
Category:Western Asia
Category:Arabic-speaking countries
Category:Hebrew words and phrases
Category:Liberal democracies
Category:Near Eastern countries
Category:States and territories establish in 1948
Category:Member states of the Union for the Miterranean

nv:Ízrel Bikéyah
gl:Israel - ישראל
xal:Изралмудин Орн
lad:Minat Yisrael
la:Israel (civitas)
wa:Israyel (estat)


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border|imgsize2=145|caption2=Flag|image3= Dome of the rock BW 14.JPG|imgsize3=245|caption3=Dome of the Rock, viewed from the Mount of Olives|pushpin_map=Israel|latd=31 |latm=47 |lats=|latNS=N|longd=35 |longm=13 |longs=|longEW=E|arname=commonly
|meaning=|type=city|typefrom=|stdHeb=Heifa|altOffSp=|altUnoSp=|state=Israel|district=haifa|population=264,900 (city)1,039,000 (metropolitan area)|popyear=2007|area_dunam=63666|mayor=Yona
|meaning=Garden Heights|founded=1921|type=city|typefrom=1950|stdHeb=|altOffSp=|altUnoSp=|district=ta|population=133,400|popyear=2007|area_dunam=12214|mayor=Zvi Bar}}Avraham Krinizi, the first mayor of Ramat GanRamat Gan"s location within the "Elite"
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