Israel: important things to know

Israeli flag over Jerusalem wall, Israel

The country of Israel, which was founded in 1948, and brought together millions of Jewish people from all around the world, is considered by many to be a true miracle. As a very young and small country, with few natural resources and a lot of enemies, it has built itself into a powerhouse within a very short time, thanks to much innovation, determination, and patriotism. Here are some of the most interesting and important things to know about the modern country of Israel, including the country’s history, demographics, economy, and more.

Major events in the History of Israel

The Six-Day War in 1967

On June 5, 1967, Israel launched a pre-emptive attack against the armies of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, which developed into the Six-Day War, the first major war since Israel’s War of Independence in 1948. The war – which lasted six days, was a great victory for the State of Israel, which captured the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank, thereby tripling the area under its control. In addition, during the war, it captured the Old City of Jerusalem from the Jordanians, including the holiest places for Judaism: the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

The Yom Kippur war

On the holy day of Yom Kippur, October 6, 1973, the armies of Egypt and Syria surprised Israel with an attack that started the Yom Kippur War, with the aim of reclaiming the territories they lost in the Six-Day War. The Israeli army suffered a major blow at the beginning of the war, but it came out of the war with the upper hand, and the war ended after 18 days, with no changes to the territories under its control.

The war caused a major crisis among the Israeli public and a lack of trust in the decision-makers in the country, due to the sacrifice of the soldiers in vain as a result of the errors of the commanders and ministers during the first days of the war. These eventually led to the election of the Likud party to power in 1977, which was the first time the Socialist Labor Party lost control of the government.

The Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty

In 1979, the Prime Minister of Israel, Menachem Begin, and the President of Egypt, Anwar al-Sadat, signed a peace agreement between the two countries, under which Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, evacuating dozens of settlements. This was Israel’s first peace treaty with an Arab country and one of the most important steps to promote peace in the Middle East. Thanks to their agreement, Begin and Sadat won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty

The peace agreement between Israel and Jordan was signed on October 26, 1994, and regulated the relations, borders, and distribution of resources between Israel and Jordan. This agreement is of great importance for Israel’s relations with the countries of the Middle East, and since then Israel and Jordan have maintained many trade and tourism relations.

The murder of Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin

On November 4, 1995, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by Yigal Amir, a Jewish assassin who opposed the political moves that Rabin led. Rabin made many moves to promote peace in the Middle East, such as the peace treaty with Jordan, the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, and negotiations for a peace agreement with Syria, but encountered significant opposition from a large part of the right-wing public in Israel. He was murdered at a large event he organized to support the peace agreements, in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, which was named after him following the assassination.

Israel demographics

Today, Israel has almost 10 million inhabitants. About 73.5% of the permanent residents of Israel are Jews, about 21% are Muslim and Christian Arabs, about 1.7% are Druze, and about 5.5% are others. The average life expectancy in Israel is one of the highest in the world, and in 2017 it stood at 81.27 years for men and 84.58 years for women.

Out of the Jewish population in Israel, about 11% are Ultra-Orthodox Jews, and 15% are religious Jews, with the rest considered to be secular or Masortim. Of course, most of the Jewish population has immigrated to Israel in the past 100 years, as Jewish people have come here from all over the world, with some of the most common countries of origin being Poland, Russia, Morocco, France, and Yemen.

Israel foreign relations

Western world

Famously, Israel’s most important ally is the United States, as both countries have had a prosperous relationship for many years, and the U.S. has also been the mediator for Israel’s peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt. Other than that, Israel has maintained good connections with most of the Western World, as countries like Germany, the UK, and Canada are considered to be among the closest nations to Israel.

Middle East

Israel’s connections with Middle Eastern countries have seen major ups and downs through the years. However, ever since the peace treaty with Egypt, things have gradually improved. Today, it has good connections with the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco, and is getting closer to Saudi Arabia.

Israel used to have very good connections with Iran in the past, but since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, Iran has been the biggest military threat to Israel.

Israel politics

Israel has always been a sparkling democracy, with a system that is very much inspired by the British Parliament system. Today, it is one of only 3 democracies in the world that does not have a constitution. In the early years of the country, the country was mostly socialist, as the left-wing Labor Party was in power from 1948-1977. Since then, the country was mostly led by right-wing governments and has gradually turned into a more and more capitalist country.

The Israeli economy

As one of the most developed countries in the world, Israel is a member of the OECD and currently ranks 28th in the world in GDP per capita. The Israeli industry is mostly reliant on the high-tech and defense industries, as many of the world’s biggest high-tech companies have opened development centers in Israel, mostly in Tel Aviv and Herzliya.

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