According to estatelearning, Israel is located in the Middle East, on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It shares its borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan and the West Bank to the east, and Egypt and the Gaza Strip to the southwest. Its total area is 20,770 km2 (8,019 sq mi) and it has a population of approximately 9 million people. The capital city of Israel is Jerusalem, which is also its largest city. Other major cities include Tel Aviv on the Mediterranean coast and Haifa in northern Israel.
The country west of Jordan, which is covered by Israel and with a hereditary term also called Palestine, constitutes the bridge between Africa and Asia, a fact that characterized the area’s cultural development. About a million years ago, the Jordan sink was filled with water after long periods of rain. At this water people settled; about 700,000 year old remains of Homo erectus have been found at Ubaydiya (new findings, for example, in Abu Khas, however, indicate that Homo erectus occurred in the area as early as about two million years ago).
Already during the early Paleolithic period, c. 1,500,000-100,000 BC, caves began to be used as dwellings, and by the end of the period man had learned to handle the fire (compare, among others, Qafza). During the Middle Paleolithic period (c. 100,000-40,000 BC), austrian cultures emerged, characterized by beautifully shaped flint implements. Important paleolithic sites such as the Tabun and as-Sukhul caves are located on Mount Carmel. Art objects have been found in caves inhabited during Late Paleolithic times (40,000-18,000 BC), as well as signs of fertility and death cult. To see more information other than history, please visit Abbreviationfinder to learn more about climate, population, government, and economy for the country of Israel.
The major cultural breakthrough occurred during the latter part of the epipaleolithic period (18,000-8000 BC) with the Native American culture (after the Wadi an-Natuf settlement site). Rivers and lakes were used as communication routes; the fishing hook, the bow and, above all, the microlite cutter were dominant tool shapes. Farming and livestock management now became main industries, and trade occurred. The homes were round huts, arranged in communities. The dead were collectively buried in stools under the housing or in connection with them; Another funeral practice was to prepare the skulls and bury them separately. Through their aesthetically pleasing art, the natives showed their belief in fertility, life and death. Megalithic tombs were erected in Einan.
Neolithic time can be divided into two periods; ceramic (8000-6000 BC) and ceramic (6000-4800 BC). In the west, natu- ral and taboo cultures dominated, while the Jarmu culture developed southeast of Lake Kinnerets. One of the first known urban-like concentrations arose in Jericho, among others. including a powerful defense tower from about 7500 BC The period was characterized by strong population growth. In the Negev and northern Sinai, nomadic people performed rock carvings with hunting, dance and music motifs. During the copper stone age (4800-3100), metal handling was developed. Important finds are Talaylat al-Ghassul and Timna; the fantastic copper objects from Nahal Mishmar show the art of the time. Cremation occurred; the ashes were stored in house clocks. A contemporary temple facility has been found in En-Gedi.
As early as the Bronze Age (3100-2450 BC), relatively large and well-fortified cities such as Ai, Arad, Jericho and Megiddo were erected, and trade with Egypt flourished. With interruptions for a decline period 2300-1900 BC, characterized by excavation and megalithic tombs for one or two dead, urban construction was resumed during the Middle Bronze Age, c. 1900-1550 BC; significant places were Gezer and Hazor. The fast-rotating turntable now revolutionized ceramic production. The Late Bronze Age (1550-1200) emphasized the area’s function of transit land. The Egyptian Amarna Letters (see Amarna) mention Canaanite rulers and important cities such as Jerusalem, Geser, Lakish and Shekem (compare Canaanites). The high culture now established in the region prevailed until the period 1400-1200 BC, when climate change and disturbed trade relations with Egypt again contributed to a downturn. Nomad people like habiru and shasu established themselves in the country, as did the Philistines. Towards the end of the period, Pharaoh Merenptah’s stele, the name Israel appears for the first time.
For biblical times, see Israel (in the Old Testament). See also Palestine (History) and Jordan (History).
During the Jewish tribulation, Palestine was under different empires. During the division of the Roman Empire, the country came to belong to the eastern half (later the Byzantine Empire). At the beginning of the 600s, Palestine was conquered for a short time by the Persians. It was conquered by the Byzantines 628 but 635-640 the area was conquered by Arab armies. Palestine was eventually Arabized, that is, the Arabic language was adopted by the population, and Islamized, that is, most residents became Muslims; however, minorities of both Christians and Jews remained. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Palestine was the scene of war for the Crusader armies (see Crusade); the influence of the Egyptian Mamluks rose towards the end of this period, and from 1291 they were lords of the country.
In 1517, Palestine fell under the Ottoman Turks. The European ideas of nation states in the Arab world in the 19th century led to the emergence of Arab nationalism. During the First World War, the Arabs traveled in 1916 against the Turks. This Arab revolt occurred after negotiations with the British and in alliance with the United Kingdom. In 1917, the Allies captured Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine.
For developments during the British term, see Palestine.
- Countryaah: Check to see the location of Israel on the world map. Also covers major mountains, rivers and lakes in Israel.
Zionism and Jewish immigration
At the end of the 19th century, Jewish nationalism, Zionism, emerged in Europe as a result of anti-Semitism but also of colonialism and nationalism (“a people, a country”). Zionism’s goal was to create a home for Jews in Palestine.
In Basel, in 1897, the first Zionist Congress took place on the initiative of Theodor Herzl, an Austrian journalist who, with “Der Judenstaat” (1896), enthusiastically succeeded large groups of Jews. For Herzl, the Jewish question was neither religious nor social but national. In Basel, a program was adopted with the goal of establishing a “national home” for the Jews through Jewish immigration to and colonization of Palestine, which was the obvious goal as Judaism’s “holy land”. Zionism received British support in the Balfour Declaration in 1917, confirmed in the peace agreements after the First World War. Britain received Palestine as a mandate under the League of Nations, but in 1922 separated Transjordan from the rest of the area.
Jewish immigration to and colonization of Palestine had begun on a larger scale as early as 1882, but now gained momentum and increased even more with Hitler’s takeover of Germany in 1933. The Jews in Palestine in 1922 amounted to about 84,000 (13 percent), 1931 to 174,600 and in at the end of 1946 to 608,000, that is to about 33 percent of the entire population.
Palestine was a peasant society with strong feudal traits. The immigrant Jews were met by dissatisfaction and opposition from the Palestinian Arabs, who felt let down by the British promises of Arab freedom after the war. (For the conflict between Jews and Arabs, see also Israel-Palestine.) Already in the 1920s Jews and Arabs collapsed. The Arabs refused to accept that the Jews would make their mark on Palestine, let alone make Palestine Jewish and establish a Jewish state, which was the intention of Zionism. British policy was ambivalent. It sought to appease the Arabs by, among other things, restricting Jewish immigration, but without succeeding.
A colonization in a more systematic form had already begun in 1909-14. The Jewish National Fund bought land to be used by mainly various collectives such as kibbutzim and moss gardens. Farming the earth with one’s own hands and returning to body work was central to the early Zionists. Hebrew was revived for both national and non-profit reasons. In 1918, the foundation stone for the Hebrew University was laid on Scopus Mountain (inaugurated in 1925). Jewish unions were formed, which in 1920 joined in Histadrut (LO). Jewish parties were founded. The Labor Party Mapai, which represents the socialist ideals of the early Zionists, became the largest. A defense was also created in secret, Haganah. In 1920, an elected assembly and executive body Vaad Leumi was established(‘National Council’). The Zionist organization formally represented Jewish interests. In practice, the Jewish Agency served as a Jewish government with Zionism’s top leader Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion at the top. The Jewish community, Yishuv, which encompassed all social functions, sought a democratic structure. It was inspired by socialist and egalitarian Zionism, whose main symbol was the kibbutz. However, it was always a Jewish society, a state in the state, isolated from the Arab.
In Palestine, tensions and violence grew between Jews and Britons and between Jews and Arabs. The latter had not given up their demands for independence and saw the Jews as a foreign invasion of their country. By 1939, the British had again introduced quotas for Jewish immigration (White Paper 1939). The Nazi extermination of about six million Jews increased the world’s sympathy for the Jews’ demands for their own land in Palestine. The situation became increasingly untenable for the British, who in 1947 handed over the decision on the future of Palestine to the UN. That same fall, the UN General Assembly proposed Palestine’s division into a Jewish and an Arab state with Jerusalem under UN rule. The Jews, who made up about 1/3 of the population and owned less than 10 percent of the land, were allocated 55 percent including the Negev desert and peninsula area. The Jews accepted, even though the goal and the dream of most people were all of Palestine (including the country east of Jordan for the revisionists, Likud’s representatives). The Arabs said no. The UN adopted the divisional plan without a referendum.
The State of Israel is founded
On May 15, 1948, the British mandate expired. On May 14, the State of Israel was proclaimed by David Ben-Gurion, Yishuv’s undisputed leader and Israel’s first prime minister. Chaim Weizmann was named president. Israel was immediately recognized by the United States and the Soviet Union. In 1949, Israel joined the UN. The current state of war between Jews and Arabs was exacerbated by the first Arab-Israeli war. The Declaration of Independence stated that “the State of Israel will be open to Jewish immigration and to the gathering of Jews in exile”. As a homeland for the Jewish people, Israel saw this as its historical task.
Every Jew’s right to live in Israel and automatically become an Israeli citizen was confirmed in 1950 in the Law of Return. But immigration was also a matter of security in a hostile environment. In just four years, the number of Jews more than doubled. Survivors from Europe were followed by Jewish immigrants from the Arab world. Only in the mid-1960s did immigration slow down and then increase again from the late 1980s, as a result of the political changes in Eastern Europe that allowed many Jews from the former Soviet Union to emigrate to Israel.
It was a gigantic task to integrate all immigrants into the newly established Israeli state. It was facilitated by financial contributions from the United States and Jewish organizations there as well as compensation from West Germany (1952) for the suffering and losses that Nazism caused to the Jews. Also, the integration of all immigrants would not have been possible without all the remaining Arab property that Jews were allowed to take over under the Absence Property Act (1950). Arab land was expropriated partly for state security purposes and partly for Jewish settlement in Arab areas such as the Galilee and the Lilla Triangle and after 1967 on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In a very short time they managed to create a relatively welded nation of all people with different backgrounds and experiences. The Israeli army, Zahal, became an important melting pot here.ashkenazes, which dominated all areas of society, and mizraches (seferers), who were often conservative and religious in the traditional Jewish sense and felt alien to the socialist pioneer ideals.
Israel is strongly influenced by the ideology of Zionism and is therefore primarily a state for Jews. The 160,000 Palestinians (Arabs, Drusters and Cherries) who remained and who in 2009 totaled over 1.3 million are Israeli citizens. For security reasons, the Palestinians and the Israeli Bedouins do military service only to a limited extent. The situation looks partly different for the Israeli drusts, which to a large extent do military service. Until 1966, large areas populated by the Arab minority were under military rule based on exceptional laws introduced by the British in 1945 against Jewish resistance. The same laws have been used since 1967 in the occupied areas.
The ideology of the pioneers dominated the new state. Over the years, the emphasis was increasingly placed on the “state”, not on socialism, in the work of creating a viable state politically, economically and socially. The egalitarian society, on the other hand, remained a dream. It was important to ensure the security of the country through a strong defense that could withstand future Arab hostility and an approval of the country’s borders. However, Israel has never defined where these borders should go.
War, settlements and Arab uprising
With the great victory of the 1967 Six Day War, Israel gained control over all of Palestine (as well as the Sinai and Golan mountains). Arab Jerusalem was immediately annexed, and in 1980 Jerusalem was declared Israel’s eternal and indivisible capital. Soon, demands were made to establish Jewish settlements in occupied areas or administrated territories it was officially called. However, the Labor government was not prepared to accept an open housing policy but formally saw the occupation as provisional pending peace negotiations.
After the October 1973 war (the Yom Kippur War), the Labor government was increasingly difficult to oppose those who considered Israel to be of course entitled to the “Land of Israel” and the government in practice allowed Jewish settlement, which was, however, justified for security reasons. Religious settlers in the Gush Emunim movement, who saw it as a divine mission to colonize the West Bank also drove on and won the hearing among large groups. Likewise, housing policy continued, but to a greater extent and with the stated goal of not relinquishing control over the areas. Religious and national sentiments began to make an impact on the country’s politics and fill the ideological void that has arisen since pioneer socialism played its role, while at the same time giving Zionism new content to justify the demands of “the Land of Israel”.
Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 led to open fragmentation in the country. The war, and its connection to the security of the country, were called into question. The Israeli peace movement, Peace Now, was formed. This called for negotiations with the Palestinians on the future of the occupied territories. Many people considered peace and internal cohesion more important than the “Land of Israel”. Israel’s relations with the Palestinians began to grow closer to its unity. The Palestinian popular revolt, the intifada, which broke out in the fall of 1987, and the Palestinians’ indirect recognition of Israel and acceptance of a two-state solution a year later, tensions intensified. Israel’s brutal methods of overcoming the revolt eroded its trust capital in the West. The Palestinian support for Saddam Hussein during the Kuwait War was a disappointment for the Israeli peace movement, which, however, resumed its peace work while the Shamir government accelerated settlement policy until his departure in 1992.
Stranded peace process
After the 1992 election, Yitzhak Rabin was able to form a government led by the Labor Party, and the peace process gained momentum. Settlement policy, which had been one of the major issues of conflict in its relations with neighboring countries and Palestinians, became more restrictive. Economic growth increased. In 1993, the Oslo Agreement was adopted by the Israeli government and its Palestinian counterpart PLO (see the Oslo Process). However, the peace process broke down when Rabin was first assassinated by a Jewish extremist in November 1995 and then Likud and its leader Benjamin Netanyahu won the election and came to rule Israel in 1996-99 with a tougher security-focused program. Terrorist acts, carried out by Palestinian extremists, also contributed to the deteriorating situation.
During Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s reign in 1999-2001, intensive peace talks were held with both Syria and the Palestinian Authority. Since the negotiations broke down in 2000, a new Palestinian revolt, al-Intifada al-Aqsa, broke out in September. After bloody fighting between the Israeli military and a number of Palestinian paramilitary groups, new elections were announced, and in 2001 Barak suffered a devastating defeat. The victory for Ariel Sharonshowed that a large majority of the Israeli people had now lost faith in the peace process. Sharon’s new national unity government advocated a tougher Israeli security policy. Following an increasing number of attacks by Palestinian suicide bombers, now also in the State of Israel, the Israeli army began a brutal reoccupation of Palestinian cities and parts of the autonomous Palestinian territories in 2002. The United States supported Israel’s right to defend itself against “Palestinian terror.” The Labor Party left the national unity government in 2002, but noted new defeats in the 2003, 2006 and 2009 parliamentary elections. The 2003 election became a new big victory for Sharon and his right-wing Likud.
During her second term of office 2003-06, Sharon implemented a powerful and partly changed policy towards the Palestinians. He explained, based on Israel’s experience of the new intifada and the Palestinian suicide bombings, that no peace partner was on the Palestinian side anymore. The so-called peace process was thus definitely buried. Instead, Israel would withdraw unilaterally (unilaterally) from parts of the occupied territories and shield itself from the Palestinian population. As part of this foreclosure, Israel began to build a so-called security barrier around the Israeli state’s borders. But on many stretches, this barrier, usually a fence or wall, was built into what were pre-1967 Palestinian territories. The barrier was therefore condemned by almost the entire world community,
The most dramatic ingredient in Sharon’s new strategy was an Israeli retreat from the Gaza Strip, which was implemented in August 2005. In connection with this evacuation, all Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and four on the West Bank were also demolished. For this new policy, however, Sharon had no majority within the Likud Party. Sharon therefore left Likud and founded a new right-center party, Kadima. In January 2006, however, Sharon suffered a stroke and was succeeded by Ehud Olmert.
The subsequent election in March 2006 was won by Kadima, and Olmert was able to form a new coalition government. As Prime Minister of Israel 2006-09, Olmert Sharon continued his policy of evacuating Jewish settlements, now from the West Bank, with the goal of setting the Israeli state’s final borders by 2010, if necessary unilaterally. In 2008, Olmert was forced to leave Kadima’s leadership because of corruption charges.
In the following new elections in February 2009, Kadima, now under his new party leader Tzipi Livni, became again the largest party, but the new government instead was formed by Likud’s leader, Netanyahu. He succeeded in forming a broad unity government with both the Labor Party and the right-wing extremist nationalist parties. Netanyahu’s government was put under pressure early by US then-elected President Barack Obama. Thus, in June 2009, Netanyahu was forced to accept the demands of a Palestinian state, but only under a wide range of Israeli conditions.
Even in the 2013 election, the right won and Netanyahu formed a coalition government with right-wing extremist and religious-nationalist parties as well as the newly established center parties Hatnuah (under the leadership of Livni) and Yesh Atid. Government disagreement over economic policy and a new law establishing Israel as a state for Jews led to a new election in March 2015.
In the 2015 elections Likud received unexpectedly strong support and again became the largest party and Netanyahu formed the most religious-nationalist government to date in Israeli politics, along with right-wing extremist and religious-nationalist parties and Kulanu. In July 2018, the controversial National State Act was passed. According to this, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, Jewish symbols become the symbols of the State of Israel, and Hebrew is the official language (thus the Arab was deprived of his former position as official language).
In 2017, US President Donald Trump decided to follow a 1995 congressional decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which happened in 2018. The United States thus became the first state to have its embassy in Jerusalem.
In 2018, a series of protests took place in Gaza along the border with Israel, which together came to be called The Great March of Return. Tens of thousands of Palestinians went out and demonstrated at the end of March. The protests initially focused on Palestinian refugees’ right to return and culminated in the inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem. The protests became the bloodiest in four years with nearly 60 dead and over 1,000 injured on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip. June 14, 120 of 193 countries condemned the actions of the UN General Assembly of Israel.
During the summer of 2018, Israeli fighter aircraft carried out the largest military operation since the Gaza war in 2014. More than 40 targets belonging to the terror-stamped Islamist movement Hamas were attacked. Hamas, for its part, responded by firing rockets and grenades at southern Israel. In November, the Israeli air strikes against Gaza continued, followed by ceasefire. This time, Prime Minister Netanyahu was severely criticized by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (born 1958). Lieberman said the cease-fire was “a capitulation to terror” and resigned from the post of Minister of Defense. This led to a minor government crisis in the country. Minister of Education Naftali Bennett (born 1972)) threatened to dismiss the government if he did not become Defense Minister after Lieberman’s departure. Bennett then changed and the Netanyahu government could remain. On December 24, 2018, however, the hard-pressed Prime Minister announced that Parliament would be dissolved and that new elections be held in April 2019.
After Netanyahu failed to form government after the April elections, another election was announced. In the subsequent September elections, Kachol Lavan and Likud received 33 and 31 seats, respectively. After again failing to form government, new elections were announced until March 2020, the third in the course of a year. Netanyahu’s Likud became the largest party, but government formation is once again expected to be complicated.
In the fall of 2019, Netanyahu began the preliminary hearings on the corruption charges being brought against him.