Israel has emerged as a regional economic and military powerhouse, leveraging its booming high-tech sector, massive military industry, and concerns about Iran to foster partnerships around the world. The State of Israel was established in 1948.
The UN General Assembly had proposed to partition the British Mandate for Palestine into an Arab and Jewish state. Arab states rejected the UN plan and were subsequently defeated militarily in the 1948 war that followed the withdrawal of the British on 14 May 1948.
Israel was admitted as a member of the UN in 1949 and saw rapid population growth, primarily due to migration from Europe and the Middle East, over the following years.
Israel and its Arab neighbors fought wars in 1967 and 1973 and Israel signed peace treaties with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.
Israel took control of the Jordanian West Bank, the Syrian Golan Heights and Egyptian Gaza Strip in the course of the 1967 war, and subsequently administered those territories through military authorities.
Israel and Palestinian officials signed interim agreements in the 1990’s that created an interim period of Palestinian self-rule in parts of the West Bank and Gaza.
Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. While the most recent formal efforts between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to negotiate final status issues occurred in 2013-2014, the US continues its efforts to advance peace.
Immigration to Israel continues, with more than 20,000 new immigrants, mostly Jewish, in 2020. The Breton Woods and Balfour declaration were the main platforms to make this possible.
On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel. U.S. President Harry S. Truman recognized the new nation on the same day.
Although the USA supported the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which favored the creation of a Jewish national home in Palestine, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had assured the Arabs in 1945 that the USA would not intervene without consulting both the Jews and the Arabs in that region.
The British, who held a colonial mandate for Palestine until May 1948, opposed both the creation of a Jewish state and an Arab state in Palestine as well as unlimited immigration of Jewish refugees to the region.
Great Britain wanted to preserve good relations with the Arabs to protect its vital political and economic interests in Palestine. Soon after President Truman took office, he appointed several experts to study the Palestinian issue.
On November 29, 1947 the United Nations adopted Resolution 181 (also known as the Partition Resolution) that would divide Great Britain’s former Palestinian mandate into Jewish and Arab states in May 1948 when the British mandate was scheduled to end.
Under the resolution, the area of religious significance surrounding Jerusalem would remain a corpus separatum under international control administered by the United Nations.
Ever-since the Israeli economy has undergone a dramatic transformation, especially in the last 25 years, led by cutting-edge, high-tech sectors.
Offshore gas discoveries in the Mediterranean, most notably in the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields, place Israel at the center of a potential regional natural gas market.
However, longer-term structural issues such as low labor force participation among minority populations, low workforce productivity, high costs for housing and consumer staples, and a lack of competition, remain a concern for many Israelis and an important consideration for Israeli politicians.
Former Prime Minister Benjamin NETANYAHU dominated Israel’s political landscape from 2009 to June 2021, becoming Israel’s longest serving Zionist prime minister before he was unseated by Naftali BENNETT, after Israel’s fourth election in two years.
BENNETT formed the most ideologically diverse coalition in Israel’s history, including the participation of an Arab-Israeli party.
Under the terms of the coalition agreement, BENNETT would remain as prime minister until August 2023, then Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair LAPID would succeed him. But recent elections sabotaged this agreement, as Netanyahu is back in control again.
Israel signed normalization agreements – brokered by the USA – with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Morocco in late 2020 and reached an agreement with Sudan in early 2021.
Israel has a coastline of 273 km, while the border line with Egypt is 208 km; Gaza Strip 59 km; Jordan 327 km (20 km are within the Dead Sea); Lebanon 81 km; Syria 83 km; West Bank 330 km.
The population is concentrated in and around Tel-Aviv, as well as around the Sea of Galilee, which it first shared with the Syrian Golan Heights, while the south remains sparsely populated with the exception of the shore of the Gulf of Aqaba.
CIA World Fact-Book / Blog 2022.