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Israel

Background

Israel

Following World War II, the British withdrew from their mandate of Palestine, and the UN partitioned the area into Arab and Jewish states, an arrangement rejected by the Arabs. Subsequently, the Israelis defeated the Arabs in a series of wars without ending the deep tensions between the two sides. The territories Israel occupied since the 1967 war are not included in the Israel country profile, unless otherwise noted. On 25 April 1982, Israel withdrew from the Sinai pursuant to the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. In keeping with the framework established at the Madrid Conference in October 1991, bilateral negotiations were conducted between Israel and Palestinian representatives and Syria to achieve a permanent settlement. Israel and Palestinian officials signed on 13 September 1993 a Declaration of Principles (also known as the "Oslo Accords") guiding an interim period of Palestinian self-rule. Outstanding territorial and other disputes with Jordan were resolved in the 26 October 1994 Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace. In addition, on 25 May 2000, Israel withdrew unilaterally from southern Lebanon, which it had occupied since 1982. In April 2003, US President BUSH, working in conjunction with the EU, UN, and Russia - the "Quartet" - took the lead in laying out a roadmap to a final settlement of the conflict by 2005, based on reciprocal steps by the two parties leading to two states, Israel and a democratic Palestine. However, progress toward a permanent status agreement was undermined by Israeli-Palestinian violence between September 2003 and February 2005. In the summer of 2005, Israel unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip, evacuating settlers and its military while retaining control over most points of entry into the Gaza Strip. The election of HAMAS to head the Palestinian Legislative Council froze relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Ehud OLMERT became prime minister in March 2006 and presided over a 34-day conflict with Hizballah in Lebanon in June-August 2006 and a 23-day conflict with HAMAS in the Gaza Strip during December 2008 and January 2009. OLMERT, who in June 2007 resumed talks with PA President Mahmoud ABBAS, resigned in September 2008. Prime Minister Binyamin NETANYAHU formed a coalition in March 2009 following a February 2009 general election. Direct talks launched in September 2010 collapsed following the expiration of Israel's 10-month partial settlement construction moratorium in the West Bank. Diplomatic initiatives to revive the negotiations through proximity talks began at the end of 2010.

About

Israel (Hebrew: מדינת ישראל Medinat Yisra-el; Arabic دولَة إِسرائيل Dawlat Isrā'īl) is a small yet diverse Middle Eastern country with a long coastline on the eastern Mediterranean Sea and a small window on the Red Sea at the Gulf of Eilat (Aqaba). Israel is bordered by Egypt and the Gaza Strip to the southwest, by Jordan and the West Bank to the east, and by Syria and Lebanon to the north. It shares borders to the Jordan River and the Dead Sea with the West Bank and Jordan. The West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip have been under Israeli de-facto rule since 1967. In addition to the majority Palestinian Arab populations living in these regions, the Israeli Government has built many Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as well as in the annexed Golan Heights.

Although Israel was established specifically for the Jewish people, following the Second World War, Israel is considered part of the Holy Land (together with areas of Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Territories). The three major monotheistic religions -Judaism, Christianity, and Islam- all have historical ties to the region. Israel thus contains a vibrant modern history and culture, based in part on the diverse, immigrant origins of its inhabitants returning from the Jewish Diaspora. These aspects make Israel a fascinating destination for many travelers and pilgrims. As a result of this vast mix of culture, in addition to the official languages of Hebrew and Arabic, Russian and Yiddish are also spoken by a significant minority of Israelis. English in many ways acts as second language. Within Israel's recognized pre-1967 borders, about 80% of Israelis identify themselves as Jewish, the remainder classify themselves as either as Arab and or Palestinian, Bedouin or Druze.

Israel is a highly urbanized and economically developed society and is therefore best divided for the traveler into its main cities and towns, followed by the regions and other sites.

Read more about Israel in our Israel travel guide »

A travel warning has been issued for Israel

Read more »

Featured journals from

Israel

Nippon Express

by yossi

Well, it was bound to happen eventually. After years of thinking about it, months of planning, at least one failed attempt and several bumps in the road, I finally arrived to Japan.

Apr 2010 - Aug 2013  »  Israel | Hong Kong (S.A.R.) | Japan | Germany | United Kingdom

Eastern Winds, Flat Sea

by zohar

Sdot Yam, Israel

Dec 2010  »  Israel

The Rocks of my Childhood

by zohar

Negev, Israel

Feb 2011  »  Israel

Yachting at the Mediterranean

by yigal

What a great way to start your day...

Dec 2011  »  Israel

The Holy Land: A Genesis to a Lifelong Pilgrimage

by TK729

My first introduction to a cultural experience beyond my own was a month and half long university study abroad trip to the Holy Land. As the epicenter of three of the world's great religions, I found myself marveling at history that defined the future of many great nations. Regardless of affiliation to a particular faith, Jerusalem awes and inspires visitors at every corner.

May 2008  »  Israel

(Mis)adventures in Jerusalem, 2.0

by ashantur

Hopefully nobody will notice the dumb American trailing after her father trying not to incite further tension among the terrorists and infidels.

Jun 2010  »  United States | Israel | Palestinian territories | Germany

Short 2 days trip to northern Israel

by yigal

The Golan Heights, Kiryat Shmona & Manara Cliff

Aug 2010  »  Israel

איטליה

by leora

קורס איטלקית בפירנצה

Oct 2011  »  Israel

Fishing day at the north!

by ivry3

Its a beautiful fishing day at Tsfat!

Apr 2010  »  Israel

Featured hotels in

Israel

IsraelHilton Eilat Queen of Sheba 

8 Antib Road, North Shore
Eilat 88121
Israel

Price (US$): $305 - $375 / night

Check rates »

Location. Hilton Eilat Queen of Sheba is located near the beach in Eilat and close to North Beach, Dolphin Reef, and Aqaba Fort. Other area points of interest include Aqaba City Center Shopping Mall and Coral Beach. Hotel Features. Dining options at Hilton Eilat Queen of Sheba include 5 restaurants. A poolside bar and a bar/lounge are open for drinks. Room service is available 24 hours a day. Recreational amenities include an outdoor pool, a children's pool, a health club, a sauna, and a… more »

IsraelInbal Hotel 

Liberty Bell Park, 3, Jabotinsky St.
Jerusalem 92145
Israel

Price (US$): $320 - $849 / night

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Location. Inbal Hotel is a business friendly hotel located in Jerusalem, close to St. Andrew's Church, Knesset, and Western Wall. Additional points of interest include Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock. Hotel Features. Inbal Hotel's restaurant serves lunch and dinner. A swim up bar, a poolside bar, and a bar/lounge are open for drinks. Room service is available. Recreational amenities include an outdoor pool, an indoor pool, a children's pool, a health club, and a sauna. The property's full… more »

IsraelLeonardo Plaza Hotel Jerusalem 

47 King George Street Box 7686
Jerusalem 91076
Israel

Price (US$): $220 - $640 / night

Check rates »

Location. Leonardo Plaza Hotel Jerusalem is located in central Jerusalem, close to Jerusalem Great Synagogue, Western Wall, and Temple Mount. Nearby points of interest also include Dome of the Rock and Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Hotel Features. Dining options at Leonardo Plaza Hotel Jerusalem include a restaurant, a coffee shop/café, and a snack bar/deli. A bar/lounge is open for drinks. Room service is available 24 hours a day. The hotel serves hot and cold buffet breakfasts each… more »

IsraelDan Accadia 

Ramat Yam
Herzliya Beach
Herzliya 46851
Israel

Price (US$): $392 - $621 / night

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Location. Dan Accadia is located on the beach in Herzliya, close to Arsuf. Other points of interest are Museum of the Diaspora and Eretz Israel Museum. Hotel Features. Dining options at Dan Accadia include a coffee shop/café and a snack bar/deli. A poolside bar is open for drinks. Room service is available 24 hours a day. A complimentary buffet breakfast is served each morning. Recreational amenities include a children's pool, outdoor tennis courts, a health club, a spa tub, and a sauna.… more »

IsraelDan Eilat 

North Beach Area
Eilat 88101
Israel

Price (US$): $276 - $549 / night

Check rates »

Location. Dan Eilat is located in Eilat, close to North Beach, Dolphin Reef, and Aqaba Fort. Additional area points of interest include Coral Beach and Aqaba City Center Shopping Mall. Hotel Features. Dan Eilat features a coffee shop/café and a bar/lounge. Room service is available 24 hours a day. The hotel serves a complimentary buffet breakfast each morning in the restaurant. Recreational amenities include an outdoor pool, a children's pool, a health club, a spa tub, and a sauna. There is… more »

Browse more hotels in Israel »

Israel

Full name
State of Israel
Capital
Jerusalem
Location

Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Lebanon

Geographic coordinates

31 30 N, 34 45 E

Area comparative

slightly smaller than New Jersey

Border countries

Egypt 266 km, Gaza Strip 51 km, Jordan 238 km, Lebanon 79 km, Syria 76 km, West Bank 307 km

Coastline

273 km

Climate

temperate; hot and dry in southern and eastern desert areas

Terrain

Negev desert in the south; low coastal plain; central mountains; Jordan Rift Valley

Lowest point

Dead Sea -408 m

Highest point

Har Meron 1,208 m

Natural resources

timber, potash, copper ore, natural gas, phosphate rock, magnesium bromide, clays, sand

Population

7,353,985 (July 2010 est.)

Ethnic groups

Jewish 76.4% (of which Israel-born 67.1%, Europe/America-born 22.6%, Africa-born 5.9%, Asia-born 4.2%), non-Jewish 23.6% (mostly Arab) (2004)

Religions

Jewish 75.5%, Muslim 16.8%, Christian 2.1%, Druze 1.7%, other 3.9% (2008)

Languages

Hebrew (official), Arabic used officially for Arab minority, English most commonly used foreign language

Government type

parliamentary democracy

Independence

14 May 1948 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration)

National holiday

Independence Day, 14 May (1948); note - Israel declared independence on 14 May 1948, but the Jewish calendar is lunar and the holiday may occur in April or May

Chief of state

President Shimon PERES (since 15 July 2007)

Head of government

Prime Minister Binyamin NETANYAHU (since 31 March 2009)

Internet country code

.il

Internet users

4.525 million (2009)

Airports

48 (2010)

Ports and terminals

Ashdod, Elat (Eilat), Hadera, Haifa

Other countries in the region