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 Transnational Issues

This page was last updated on 18 January, 2007

Map of Israel

Legend: DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    Israel Top of Page
Definition Field Listing
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 occupied by Israel 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. 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 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. 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 Palestinian-Israeli violence between September 2000 and February 2005. An agreement reached at Sharm al-Sheikh in February 2005 significantly reduced the violence. Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip (August-September 2005), evacuating settlers and its military. The election of HAMAS in January 2006 to head the Palestinian Legislative Council froze relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Internal Israeli political events between October and December 2005 resulted in Ehud OLMERT becoming prime minister and Israeli Knesset elections in March 2006. Following the conflict between Israel and Hizballah in Lebanon (June-August 2006), OLMERT shelved his plans to unilaterally evacuate from most of the West Bank.
   Geography    Israel Top of Page
Definition Field Listing
Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Lebanon
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
31 30 N, 34 45 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Middle East
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 20,770 sq km
land: 20,330 sq km
water: 440 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly smaller than New Jersey
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
total: 1,017 km
border countries: Egypt 266 km, Gaza Strip 51 km, Jordan 238 km, Lebanon 79 km, Syria 76 km, West Bank 307 km
Definition Field Listing
273 km
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: to depth of exploitation
Definition Field Listing
temperate; hot and dry in southern and eastern desert areas
Definition Field Listing
Negev desert in the south; low coastal plain; central mountains; Jordan Rift Valley
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Dead Sea -408 m
highest point: Har Meron 1,208 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
timber, potash, copper ore, natural gas, phosphate rock, magnesium bromide, clays, sand
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 15.45%
permanent crops: 3.88%
other: 80.67% (2005)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
1,940 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
sandstorms may occur during spring and summer; droughts; periodic earthquakes
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
limited arable land and natural fresh water resources pose serious constraints; desertification; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; groundwater pollution from industrial and domestic waste, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
there are 242 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the West Bank, 42 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, 0 in the Gaza Strip, and 29 in East Jerusalem (August 2005 est.); Sea of Galilee is an important freshwater source
   People    Israel Top of Page
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
note: includes about 187,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, about 20,000 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, and fewer than 177,000 in East Jerusalem (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 26.3% (male 855,054/female 815,619)
15-64 years: 63.9% (male 2,044,135/female 2,016,647)
65 years and over: 9.8% (male 266,671/female 353,991) (2006 est.)
Median age:
Definition Field Listing
total: 29.6 years
male: 28.8 years
female: 30.5 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
1.18% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
17.97 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
6.18 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 6.89 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.61 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.14 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total population: 79.46 years
male: 77.33 years
female: 81.7 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.41 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
3,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
100 (2001 est.)
Definition Field Listing
noun: Israeli(s)
adjective: Israeli
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
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)
Definition Field Listing
Jewish 76.4%, Muslim 16%, Arab Christians 1.7%, other Christian 0.4%, Druze 1.6%, unspecified 3.9% (2004)
Definition Field Listing
Hebrew (official), Arabic used officially for Arab minority, English most commonly used foreign language
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.4%
male: 97.3%
female: 93.6% (2003 est.)
   Government    Israel Top of Page
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: State of Israel
conventional short form: Israel
local long form: Medinat Yisra'el
local short form: Yisra'el
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
parliamentary democracy
Definition Field Listing
name: Jerusalem; note - Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in 1950, but the US, like nearly all other countries, maintains its Embassy in Tel Aviv
geographic coordinates: 32 05 N, 34 48 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Friday in March; ends the Sunday between the holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
6 districts (mehozot, singular - mehoz); Central, Haifa, Jerusalem, Northern, Southern, Tel Aviv
Definition Field Listing
14 May 1948 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
no formal constitution; some of the functions of a constitution are filled by the Declaration of Establishment (1948), the Basic Laws of the parliament (Knesset), and the Israeli citizenship law
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
mixture of English common law, British Mandate regulations, and, in personal matters, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim legal systems; in December 1985, Israel informed the UN Secretariat that it would no longer accept compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
chief of state: President Moshe KATZAV (since 31 July 2000)
head of government: Prime Minister Ehud OLMERT (since May 2006); Deputy Prime Minister Tzipora "Tzipi" LIVNI (since May 2006)
cabinet: Cabinet selected by prime minister and approved by the Knesset
elections: president is largely a ceremonial role and is elected by the Knesset for a seven-year term (no term limits); election last held 28 March 2006 (next to be held in 2010); following legislative elections, the president assigns a Knesset member - traditionally the leader of the largest party - the task of forming a governing coalition
election results: Moshe KATZAV elected president by the 120-member Knesset with a total of 60 votes, other candidate, Shimon PERES, received 57 votes (there were three abstentions); Ehud OLMERT won the right to lead the government when his Kadima Party won 29 seats in elections held on 28 March 2006; in May 2006 OLMERT formed a coalition government with the Labor, GIL (Pensioners), and SHAS parties. In October 2006 the Yisrael Beiteinu party joined the government
Legislative branch:
Definition Field Listing
unicameral Knesset (120 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 29 March 2006 (next scheduled to be held in 2010)
election results: percent of vote by party - Kadima 22%, Labor 15.1%, Likud 9%, SHAS 9.5%, Yisrael Beiteinu 9%, NU/NRP 7.1%, GIL 5.9%, Torah and Shabbat Judaism 4.7%, Meretz-YAHAD 3.8%, United Arab List 3%, Balad 2.3%, HADASH 2.7%; seats by party - Kadima 29, Labor 19, Likud 12, SHAS 12, Yisrael Beiteinu 11, NU/NRP 9, GIL 7, Torah and Shabbat Judaism 6, Meretz-YAHAD 5, United Arab List 4, Balad 3, HADASH 3
Judicial branch:
Definition Field Listing
Supreme Court (justices appointed by Judicial Selection Committee - made up of all three branches of the government; mandatory retirement age is 70)
Political parties and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (HADASH) [Muhammad BARAKA]; GIL (Pensioners) [Rafael EITAN]; Kadima [Ehud OLMERT]; Labor Party [Amir PERETZ]; Likud Party [Binyamin NETANYAHU]; Meretz-YAHAD [Yossi BEILIN]; National Democratic Assembly (Balad) [Azmi BISHARA]; National Union (NU)/National Religious Party (NRP) [Binyamin ELON]; SHAS [Eliyahu YISHAI]; Torah and Shabbat Judaism [Yaakov LITZMAN]; United Arab List [Ibrahim SARSOUR]; Yisrael Beiteinu [Avigdor LIEBERMAN]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
Israeli nationalists advocating Jewish settlement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip; Peace Now [Yariv OPPENHEIMER, Secretary General]supports territorial concessions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; Yesha Council of Settlements [Bentzi LIEBERMAN, Chairman] promotes settler interests and opposes territorial compromise; B'Tselem monitors human rights abuses
International organization participation:
Definition Field Listing
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Salai MERIDOR
chancery: 3514 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 364-5500
FAX: [1] (202) 364-5607
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Richard H. JONES
embassy: 71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv 63903
mailing address: PSC 98, Box 29, APO AE 09830
telephone: [972] (3) 519-7575
FAX: [972] (3) 516-4390
consulate(s) general: Jerusalem; note - an independent US mission, established in 1928, whose members are not accredited to a foreign government
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
white with a blue hexagram (six-pointed linear star) known as the Magen David (Shield of David) centered between two equal horizontal blue bands near the top and bottom edges of the flag
   Economy    Israel Top of Page
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
Israel has a technologically advanced market economy with substantial, though diminishing, government participation. It depends on imports of crude oil, grains, raw materials, and military equipment. Despite limited natural resources, Israel has intensively developed its agricultural and industrial sectors over the past 20 years. Israel imports substantial quantities of grain, but is largely self-sufficient in other agricultural products. Cut diamonds, high-technology equipment, and agricultural products (fruits and vegetables) are the leading exports. Israel usually posts sizable trade deficits, which are covered by large transfer payments from abroad and by foreign loans. Roughly half of the government's external debt is owed to the US, which is its major source of economic and military aid. The bitter Israeli-Palestinian conflict; difficulties in the high-technology, construction, and tourist sectors; and fiscal austerity in the face of growing inflation led to small declines in GDP in 2001 and 2002. The economy rebounded in 2003-05, growing at a 4% rate each year, as the government tightened fiscal policy and implemented structural reforms to boost competition and efficiency in the markets. The conflict with Lebanon in summer 2006 dampened slightly GDP growth estimates for the year, but continuing strong foreign investment, tax revenue, and private consumption levels helped the economy recover quickly.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$166.3 billion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
Definition Field Listing
$121.6 billion (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
4.8% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$26,200 (2006 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 2.6%
industry: 30.8%
services: 66.6% (2006 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.6 million (2006 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture, forestry, and fishing 1.8%, manufacturing 1.8%, construction 5.3%, wholesale and retail trade 15.7%, transport, storage, and communications 6.3%, finance and business 5.3%, personal and other services 11.5%, public services 28.6% (1996)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
8.5% (2006 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
22.6% (2005)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: 1.4%
highest 10%: 32% (2004)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
Definition Field Listing
34 (2005)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.9% (2006 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
17.3% of GDP (2006 est.)
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $47.57 billion
expenditures: $49.57 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2006 est.)
Public debt:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
91% of GDP (2006 est.)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
citrus, vegetables, cotton; beef, poultry, dairy products
Definition Field Listing
high-technology projects (including aviation, communications, computer-aided design and manufactures, medical electronics, fiber optics), wood and paper products, potash and phosphates, food, beverages, and tobacco, caustic soda, cement, construction, metals products, chemical products, plastics, diamond cutting, textiles, footwear
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
4.7% (2006 est.)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
46.07 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
41.38 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
1.47 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2004)
Oil - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
3,209 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
248,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA bbl/day (2001)
Oil - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA bbl/day (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.92 million bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
780 million cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
780 million cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
38.94 billion cu m (1 January 2005 est.)
Current account balance:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$1.463 billion (2006 est.)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$42.86 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery and equipment, software, cut diamonds, agricultural products, chemicals, textiles and apparel
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
US 36.5%, Belgium 8.7%, Hong Kong 5.6% (2005)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$47.8 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
raw materials, military equipment, investment goods, rough diamonds, fuels, grain, consumer goods
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
US 13.4%, Belgium 10.1%, Germany 6.4%, UK 5.7%, Switzerland 5.5%, China 4.2% (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$28.2 billion (2006 est.)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$81.98 billion (30 June 2006 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
$240 million from US (FY06)
Currency (code):
Definition Field Listing
new Israeli shekel (ILS); note - NIS is the currency abbreviation; ILS is the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) code for the NIS
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
new Israeli shekels per US dollar - 4.5 (2006), 4.4877 (2005), 4.482 (2004), 4.5541 (2003), 4.7378 (2002)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
calendar year
   Communications    Israel Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2,936,300 (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
7.757 million (2005)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
general assessment: most highly developed system in the Middle East although not the largest
domestic: good system of coaxial cable and microwave radio relay; all systems are digital
international: country code - 972; 3 submarine cables; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (2 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
AM 23, FM 15, shortwave 2 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
17 (plus 36 low-power repeaters) (1995)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet hosts:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1,251,881 (2006)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
3.7 million (2006)
   Transportation    Israel Top of Page
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
53 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 30
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 6 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 23
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 20 (2006)
Definition Field Listing
3 (2006)
Definition Field Listing
gas 193 km; oil 442 km; refined products 261 km (2006)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 853 km
standard gauge: 853 km 1.435-m gauge (2005)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 17,446 km
paved: 17,446 km (including 144 km of expressways) (2004)
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 18 ships (1000 GRT or over) 716,382 GRT/845,053 DWT
by type: cargo 2, container 16
registered in other countries: 51 (Bahamas 1, Bermuda 3, Cyprus 3, Honduras 1, Liberia 5, Malta 23, Panama 6, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 2, Slovakia 7) (2006)
Ports and terminals:
Definition Field Listing
Ashdod, Elat (Eilat), Hadera, Haifa
   Military    Israel Top of Page
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
Israel Defense Forces (IDF): Army Headquarters, Israel Navy, Israeli Air and Space Force (ISAF, includes air defense forces); historically there have been no separate Israeli military services (2005)
Military service age and obligation:
Definition Field Listing
17 years of age for compulsory (Jews, Druzes) and voluntary (Christians, Muslims, Circassians) military service; both sexes are eligible for military service; conscript service obligation - 36 months for men, 21 months for women (2004)
Manpower available for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 17-49: 1,492,125
females age 17-49: 1,443,916 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 17-49: 1,255,902
females age 17-49: 1,212,394 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males age 18-49: 53,760
females: 51,293 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
7.7% (2005 est.)
   Transnational Issues    Israel Top of Page
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
West Bank and Gaza Strip are Israeli-occupied with current status subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement - permanent status to be determined through further negotiation; Israel continues construction of a "seam line" separation barrier along parts of the Green Line and within the West Bank; Israel withdrew its settlers and military from the Gaza Strip and from four settlements in the West Bank in August 2005; Golan Heights is Israeli-occupied (Lebanon claims the Shab'a Farms area of Golan Heights); since 1948, about 350 peacekeepers from the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) headquartered in Jerusalem monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating, and assist other UN personnel in the region
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
Definition Field Listing
IDPs: 276,000 (Arab villagers displaced from homes in northern Israel) (2005)
Trafficking in persons:
Definition Field Listing
current situation: Israel is a destination country for low-skilled workers from Eastern Europe and Asia who migrate voluntarily for contract labor in the construction, agriculture, and health care industries, some of whom are subsequently subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude; many labor recruitment agencies in source countries and in Israel require workers to pay large up-front fees that often lead to debt bondage and vulnerability to forced labor; Israel is also a destination country for women trafficked from Eastern Europe for the purpose of sexual exploitation
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Israel is placed on the Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to address trafficking, namely the conditions of involuntary servitude allegedly facing thousands of foreign migrant workers
Illicit drugs:
Definition Field Listing
increasingly concerned about cocaine and heroin abuse; drugs arrive in country from Lebanon and, increasingly, from Jordan; money-laundering center

This page was last updated on 18 January, 2007

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