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Israel

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  • 1. BrillOnline.com BrillOnline Reference Works Home > International Relations > International Year Book and Statesmen's Who's Who > Israel International Year Book and Statesmen's Who's Who Edited by: Subjects: International Relations Israel (8,753 words) General Profile Capital: Tel Aviv, population estimate: 384,400. Although Jerusalem is used as the administrative capital of Israel and has the highest population (733,300 residents), it is not recognised as such by the UN and international law. Article Table Of Contents General Profile Constitution and Government Head of State: Shimon Peres (President) National Flag: White, charged with a star six-pointed centred blue, composed of two interlaced equilateral triangles, between two blue fesswise stripes. Constitution and Government Constitution The State of Israel's independence was proclaimed on 14 May 1948 with the termination of the British Mandate over Palestine. It followed a resolution agreed by the United Nation's General Assembly on 29 November 1947 recommending the partition of Mandatory Palestine into independent Jewish and Arab States. Legal System Local Government Area and Population Employment Banking and Finance Manufacturing, Mining and Services Communications and Transport Health The State of Israel is a Republic headed by a president elected by a secret Knesset ballot. Until 21 December 1998 the Education president was elected for a maximum of two five-year terms; however, a Knesset-approved act extended the term to a Religion non-renewable period of seven years. The president appoints senior officials, including the prime minister, the state comptroller, the governor of the Bank of Israel, and the president and deputy president of the Supreme Court. The prime minister is responsible to Parliament and appoints the Cabinet. The Government of Israel consists of the prime minister and a number of ministers who may or may not be members of the Communications and Media Environment Space Programme Knesset. Deputy ministers may also be appointed from among the members of the Knesset. The president entrusts a member of the Knesset with the formation of a government, which then must obtain a vote of confidence from the Knesset. The government is directly responsible to the Knesset. It may be removed from office by a parliamentary vote of censure and may also resign by its own decision as a result of the resignation of the prime minister. Israel has no written constitution. In 1949 a proposal to create a written constitution was rejected by a majority vote of the Knesset. Instead it was decided to enact from time to time fundamental laws which would form a constitution. To date, eleven such laws have been enacted: 'The Knesset' (1958), 'State Lands' (1960), 'The President of the State' (1964), 'The State Economy' (1975), 'Israel Defence Forces' (1976), 'Jerusalem, Capital of Israel' (1980), 'The Judiciary' (1984), 'The State Comptroller' (1988), 'Human Dignity and Liberty' (1992), 'Freedom of Occupation' (1994) and 'The Government' (2001). Some aspects of the laws can only be changed by votes from at least two-thirds of the Knesset. There are a number of ordinary laws dealing with constitutional matters such as the Law and Administration Ordinance (1948), the State Comptroller Law (1949), the Knesset Elections Law (1955) and the Protection of Holy Places Law (1967). The Law of Return (1950) providing that 'Every Jew shall be entitled to come to Israel as an immigrant,' the Nationality Law (1952) and the Women's Equal Rights Law (1951) also belong to this type of constitutional legislation. On 7 March 2001 the Knesset passed an amendment to the Basic Law under which the president appoints the prime minister, who is responsible to parliament. For further information on the basic laws, please visit: http://www.knesset.gov.il/description/eng/eng_mimshal_yesod.htm International Relations
  • 2. At present, Israel maintains over 100 diplomatic missions and has diplomatic ties with a further 61 countries. Within the Middle East, Israel has diplomatic relations with Jordan, Mauritania and Egypt. Israel has diplomatic relations with nine non-Arab Muslim states and with 32 of the 43 Sub-Saharan states that are not members of the Arab League. Golan Heights The Heights are part of a plateau, rising between 400 and 1,700 feet above sea level. They are bordered on the west by an escarpment of 1,700 feet that drops to the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River. On the south, they are bordered by the Yarmouk River; on the north by the international border with Lebanon, and on the east by a largely flat plain, called the Hauran. After the 1948-49 Arab-Israeli War, the Golan Heights were partly demilitarised by the Israel-Syria Armistice Agreement, but there were many violations by both sides. The major causes of the conflict were a dispute over the disposition of the demilitarized zone between Israel and Syria, competition over water resources, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The strategic Heights were frequently used by Syria to bombard Israeli farming settlements below. During the Six-Day War of 1967, the Israeli army captured the Golan Heights; the area came under Israeli military control, and Israeli settlements were quickly established. During the War, between 80,000 and 109,000 of the Golan's inhabitants, mainly Druze Arabs and Circassians, fled the region and have not been permitted to return. During the Yom-Kippur War in 1973, Syrian forces attempted to re-take the Golan Heights, but were repelled. Israel and Syria signed a ceasefire agreement in 1974 that left almost all the Heights under Israeli control, while returning a narrow demilitarized zone to Syrian control. In November 1981, Israel unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights, but this has not been recognised internationally. The tiny Shebaa Farms area of the Golan Heights is claimed by both Lebanon and Syria. In 1999-2000, talks were held between Ehud Barak, the Israeli Prime Minister, and the Syrian Foreign Minister. Israel offered withdrawal from the Golan Heights in return for peace, recognition and full normalisation of relations. However, Israel insisted on the pre-1948 border while Syria insisted on the 1967 frontier, which would give Syria access to the Sea of Galilee, Israel's only freshwater lake and a major water resource. The talks failed. In 2003, the Syrian President announced that he was willing to hold peace talks with Israel. However, Israel demanded Syria first disarm Hezbollah, who launched many attacks on northern Israeli towns and army posts from Lebanese territory. Israeli public opinion was not in favour of returning the Heights to Syria, believing them to be too strategically important. Peace talks began in April 2008, sparking outrage in the Israeli parliament; several MPs said they would try to accelerate the passage of a bill requiring any withdrawal from the Golan to be backed by a referendum. Further indirect peace talks took place in Turkey, in June 2008. In 2005, the Golan Heights had a population of approximately 38,900 people, comprising approximately 19,300 Druze, 16,500 Jews, and 2,100 Muslims. The Jewish villages are administered by the Golan Regional Council, and are inhabited by Israeli citizens. The Golan Muslims (who accepted Israeli citizenship in 1981) live in the Israel-Lebanon border-straddling village of Ghajar. The Druze live in the villages of Ein Qinya, Buq'ata, Majdal Shams, and Mas'ada. The land is fertile, with the volcanic soil being used to cultivate vineyards and orchards and to raise cattle. The Golan Heights has tourist attractions, such as skiing on Mount Hermon, the crater lake of Birkat Ram and the mineral springs of Hamat Gader. Israeli-Palestinian Conflict A peace summit took place in July 2000 at Camp David, between Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Negotiations broke down after three weeks with no agreement, the main sticking point being the future of Jerusalem. In July 2000 Israel withdrew its troops from the security zone in Southern Lebanon they had occupied since 1985. A 15 km buffer zone was set up to protect Israel from crossborder attacks by Islamic militants. The UN began patrols along the Israeli-Lebanese border from 26 July 2000. In September 2000, Ariel Sharon, visited the Temple Mount, a site sacred to Muslims. The incident sparked off violent clashes between Palestinians and Israelis that caused over 300 deaths by the end of the year. The violence subsequently became known as the al-Aqsa intafada or uprising. In response to suicide bombings, Israeli troops moved into Ramallah on 31 March 2002, entering the Palestinian settlements of Jenin, Salfit and Nablus and inflicting heavy Palestinian casualties. Israel blocked a UN fact-finding mission to Jenin, and on 8 May the UN General Assembly passed a motion condemning the Israeli military occupation of the town. Yasser Arafat was released from house arrest following the handover of six suspect Palestinian militants wanted by Israel. In May 2003 a 'roadmap' for peace was put forward by the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the EU. It demanded a cessation of violence, the rebuilding of Palestinian security apparatus and Palestinian political reforms. The second stage of the roadmap would be the creation of a neutral Palestinian state with borders by December 2003, and the final stage was to be the negotiation of a permanent agreement by 2005. However, violence and suicide attacks continued. In August 2003 President Bush called on Israel to halt work on its 245-km security fence in the West Bank. The fence was designed to reduce terrorist attacks, but Palestinians claimed it was annexing more land for Israeli settlements. The UN considered the barrier illegal. An Israeli military operation, codenamed Days of Penitence, took place in northern Gaza in October 2004; 70 Palestinians were killed over in six days. In October 2004 Israel's Knesset voted to withdraw Jewish settlers from Gaza and four settlements on the West Bank. Opposition to the Disengagement Plan led to dismissals and resignations of Israeli Government Ministers, and to the threat of civil disobedience by Gaza settlers. Leader of the PLO, Yasser Arafat, died in early November 2004. Mahmoud Abbas was immediately elected head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, and following elections in January 2005, Mahmoud Abbas was elected President of the PLO. At the end of September 2005, Israel left its settlements in the Gaza Strip, but retained control over the Strip's links with the outside world: the airspace, the sea and the route to Egypt. Within a week, hostilities between Hamas and the Israelis had recommenced. Having won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in January, leaders of Hamas were sworn into government in March, amid threats of diplomatic and financial
  • 3. alienation from the governments of Israel, the US and Canada. Hamas refuses to recognise the state of Israel. On May 28th 2006, Israeli jets attacked an alleged Palestinian militant base in Lebanon, and air strikes were launched against Palestinian targets in Beirut. On 25th June 2006, an Israeli soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, was captured by three groups of militants, and demands were made for the release of some 1,500 prisoners. The Israelis responded by launching air strikes on Gaza; their tanks then moved into Gaza, and border crossings were closed. The UN warned the leaders of the two factions that they may be found personally responsible for 'disproportionate' actions. The EU delivered emergency aid through a temporary funding mechanism that by-passed the Hamas government and the civil service, which supports 25 per cent of the population, became impoverished. Following protests over unpaid wages and the storming of government headquarters, the Hamas led administration announced the closure of all government offices on 2nd October. In October 2011 Cpl. Gilad Shalit was released in exchange for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. The UN's Human Rights Council announced a fact-finding mission to the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, where 19 Palestinians died during an Israeli shelling offensive on 8 November. The council had already approved a resolution that condemned "gross and systematic" human rights violations by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories; the Israelis said the strike was due to a technical failure. A ceasefire in Gaza came into effect on 28th November 2006. The West Bank remained under Israeli military occupation, and was not included in the ceasefire agreement. In December 2007, the US criticised Israel over its decision to build 300 homes on occupied land in East Jerusalem. Israel does not regard the area as occupied, since it was annexed in 1967. In March 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert approved a plan to build up to 750 new homes in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, provoking an angry reaction from Palestinian leaders. On 9th April, Palestinian militants carried out a raid on the Nahal Oz fuel depot, killing two Israeli workers. Israel shut the terminal, which supplies fuel to the 1.5m residents of the Gaza Strip, and sent tanks and bulldozers into the Gaza Strip. Eight Palestinians were killed in the four-day operation. In mid-December 2008, a six-month truce ended and was allowed to lapse. Hamas said Israel had not respected its terms, including the lifting of the blockade; Israel said that Hamas failed to fulfill what Israel says were agreed conditions, including ending all rocket fire and halting weapons smuggling. Rocket and air strikes resumed with high casualties. On the 3rd January, Israeli ground forces entered the Gaza Strip and engaged in heavy clashes with Hamas fighters in northern Gaza. On the 6th January, at least 40 people were killed (including a number of children) and 55 injured when Israeli artillery shells landed outside the UN-run al-Fakhura school in the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza. On the 12th day of the offensive, Israel halted military operations in Gaza for three hours to allow supplies and fuel into Gaza for the first time since operations began. Fierce fighting continues and the UN compound in Gaza City was shelled by Israeli troops; around 700 people were sheltering there at the time. Israel eventually called a ceasefire on the 18th January, (22 days after the beginning of their offensive) having received assurances from the USA that it would take steps to halt the flow of arms into the Gaza Strip. Hamas rejected Israel's ceasefire in advance, and continued to fire rockets into Israel after the ceasefire had begun, triggering an Israeli air strike in response. Hamas then announced its own immediate one-week ceasefire. Israel began withdrawing troops on 20th January. Palestinian medical sources in Gaza said that at least 1,300 Palestinians were killed during the conflict; thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, were killed. The army later announced an investigation into claims it had used white phosphorus illegally during its offensive in Gaza. White phosphorus, though legal for making smokescreens on a battlefield, burns through human skin, and can cause death if inhaled. On the 19th March, Israel arrested ten senior Hamas leaders in the West Bank two days after talks on a possible prisoner swap collapsed. It is thought that the detentions were an attempt to pressure Hamas to release the captured soldier Gilad Shalit; Hamas is demanding the release of over 400 of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had hoped to secure the release of Sgt Shalit before he left office. On March 20 2010, Palestinian officials said that 11 people had been injured by Israeli air strikes which were aimed at Gaza's airport. Israel said the attacks had been aimed at militants. Also in March Israel announced planning permission for 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem. It is feared by the international community that any building in Jerusalem will undermine Israeli-Palestinian relations and hamper efforts to broker talks. A fresh offensive broke out in November 2012; rockets had been fired from both sides with Israel saying it was particularly targeting Hamas officials. More than 90 Palestinians and three Israelis died in the first few days of the attacks. Egypt was trying to broker a peaceful end to the offensive amid international fears of a ground invasion by Israeli troops. Other Recent Events In November 2005, Amir Peretz defeated Shimon Peres to the leadership of the Labour Party. Ariel Sharon announced his resignation as leader of the Likud Party, formed the Kadima Party, and won the parliamentary elections in March 2006. The new party's main goals were peace with the Palestinians and Israeli security. However, Mr. Sharon suffered a major stroke in January 2006, and went into a coma from which he has yet to emerge (June 2011). Ehud Olmert took over the leadership of Kadima. On 12th July 2006, the Lebanon-based Hezbollah group captured two Israeli soldiers, and demanded the release of prisoners in exchange. In retaliation, Israel imposed a sea blockade on Lebanon and launched jet strikes on Hezbollah targets. Further conflict ensued despite international condemnation. The UN's Kofi Annan attacked Israel's excessive use of force. Following an attack on Qana in which 54 Lebanese civilians (including over 30 children) were killed, the Israel agreed to a 48 hour ceasefire to allow for the evacuation of civilians from Southern Lebanon. A ceasefire came into force on the 14th August. During the conflict, around 1,109 Lebanese civilians died, together with 28 Lebanese soldiers. Figures for Hezbollah fatalities differ widely. 43 Israeli civilians were killed and 116 soldiers, according to official sources. In November 2007, investigations into corruption charges against PM Olmert led to searches of government and private offices. The Kadima party agreed to hold leadership elections in September. In July 2008, the bodies of the two Israeli soldiers whose capture sparked the 2006 war with Lebanon were returned to Israel, in exchange for five Hezbollah militants and the bodies of 200 Lebanese and Palestinian fighters. A Hezbollah official said that the soldiers had been captured alive, but had been injured during the cross-border attack and later died of their injuries.
  • 4. At the end of July, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced that he would not stand in a leadership race for his Kadima Party; Tzipi Livni replaced him as leader of Kadima, and began negotiating a new coalition government with the Labour Party. At the end of October, having failed to form a coalition, Tzipi Livni called a general election for February 2009. Early elections took place on 10th February 2009. The governing centre-left Kadima won 28 seats and the right-wing Likud opposition won 27; both were well short of the 61 seats needed to form a government. President Shimon Peres asked Benyamin Netanyahu of Likud to form a government. In April, the new ultra-nationalist foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said that Israel is not bound by the Annapolis conference agreement of 2007. The agreement was for further discussions aimed at creating an independent Palestinian state. Palestinian officials described Mr Lieberman as an "obstacle to peace". In June 2010 a flotilla of ships carrying aid to Gaza and manned by people of various nationalities from the group calling themselves Free Gaza, were boarded by Israeli troops, at least nine people died, and 30 were wounded. There was widespread condemnation of the violence and Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Israel. In November 2010 Israel began work on a 250 km (155 mile) barrier along its border with Egypt. The barrier is being built to stop illegal immigrants entering the country. In October 2011, Israel published the names of 477 Palestinian prisoners who are to be released in the first stage of an exchange for the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. Mr Shalit was finally released the same month. Following UNESCO's decision to give membership to Palestinians, Israel announced it was to accelerate settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In the first attacks since 2009, rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel in November 2011. There were no casualties. Legislature Israel's unicameral legislature is known as the Knesset: the house of representatives of the State of Israel. The Knesset consists of 120 members, elected by the people for a single four-year term. The two arms of the Knesset are the plenum, in which all members take part, and the committees (12 permanent committees, two special committees, three functional committees, and parliamentary committees). The Knesset holds two sessions a year: the Winter session and the Summer session. Bills can be presented by individual members of the Knesset, groups of members, ministers or government as a whole. After such bills have been examined by first the Ministry of Justice and then the Ministry of Finance, they are passed on to the rest of the Ministries for comment. If approved they are presented to the plenary arm of the Knesset for four readings, during which time the bill is debated and voted on before being refined and modified by the appropriate Knesset committee. The Knesset, Qiryat Ben-Gurion, 91950 Jerusalem, Israel. Tel. +972 2 675 3333, URL: http://www.knesset.gov.il Speaker of the Knesset: Reuven Rivlin (Likud) Cabinet (as at March 2013) Prime Minister, Minister of Economic Strategy, Pensioners and Health, Minister of Foreign Affairs: Benjamin Netanyahu Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of for Regional Development, the Negev and Galilee: Silvan Shalom Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Strategic Affairs: Moshe Ya'alon Deputy Prime Minister, Minister withut Portfolio: vacant Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior: Eliyahu Yishai Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Defence: Ehud Barak Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy: Dan Meridor Minister of Energy and Water: Uzi Landau Minister of Transportation and Road Safety: Yisrael Katz Minister of Public Democracy and Diaspora Affairs: Yuli Edelstein Minister of Justice: Yaakov Neeman Minister of the Environment: Gilad Erdan Minister of Finance: Yuval Steinitz Minister of Communications, Minister of Welfare and Social Services: Moshe Kahlon
  • 5. Minister of Housing and Construction: Ariel Atias Minister of Public Security: Yitzhak Aharonovitch Minister of Government Services: Michael Eitan Minister of Education: Gideon Sa'ar Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour; responsible for Minority Affairs: Shalom Simhon Minister of Culture and Sport: Limor Livnat Minister of Science and Technology: Daniel Hershkowitz Minister of Religious Services: Yakov Margi Minister of Tourism: Stas Misezhnikov Minister without Portfolio: Yossi Peled Minister of Immigrant Absorption: Sofa Landver Minister without Portfolio in the Prime Minister's Office: Meshulam Nahari Minister without Portfolio: Ze'ev Benjamin Begin Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: Orit Noked Minister of Homeland Security: Shakib Shanan Ministries Office of the President, Hanassi Street, Jerusalem 92188, Israel. Tel: +972 2 670 7211, fax: +972 2 561 0037, URL: http://www.president.gov.il Office of the Prime Minister, 3 Kaplan Street, PO Box 187, Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem 91919, Israel. Tel: +972 2 670 5555, fax: +972 2 651 2631, e-mail: doar@pmo.gov.il, URL: http://www.pmo.gov.il/ Ministry of Science and Technology, Kiryat Hamemshala Hamizrahit Building No. 3, Jerusalem 91181, Israel. Tel: +972 2 541 1111, URL: http://www.most.gov.il/ Ministry of Public Security, Kiryat Hamemshala, PO Box 18182, Jerusalem 91181, Israel. Tel: +972 2 530 9999, fax: +972 2 584 7872, URL: http://www.mops.gov.il Ministry of Justice, 29 Salah A-din Street, Jerusalem 91010, Israel. Tel: +972 2 670 8511, fax: +972 2 628 8618, URL: http://www.justice.gov.il/ Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs, 2 Kaplan Street, Kiryat Ben-Gurion, PO Box 915, Jerusalem 91008, Israel. Tel: +972 2 675 2311, fax: +972 2 675 2803, URL: http://www.molsa.gov.il Ministry of Finance, 1 Kaplan Street, Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem 13195, Israel. Tel: +972 2 531 7111, URL: http://www.mof.gov.il Ministry of the Interior, 2 Kaplan Street, PO Box 6158, Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem 91061, Israel. Tel: +972 2 670 1411, fax: +972 2 670 1628, URL: http://www.moin.gov.il Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, 1 Kaplan Street, Kiryat Ben-Gurion, PO Box 13061, Jerusalem 91130, Israel. Tel: +972 2 675 2696, fax: +972 2 561 8138, URL: http://www.moia.gov.il/ Ministry of Transport, 97 Yaffo Street, Jerusalem 91000, Israel. Tel: +972 2 622 8211, fax: +972 2 622 8693, URL: http://portal.mot.gov.il/ Ministry of Defence, Kaplan Street, Hakirya, Tel-Aviv 67659, Israel. Tel: +972 3 569 2010, fax: +972 3 691 6940, URL: http://www.mod.gov.il/ Ministry of Environmental Protection, PO Box 34033, Jerusalem 95464, Israel. Tel: +972 2 655 3777, URL: http://www.environment.gov.il Ministry of Construction and Housing, Kiryat Hamemshala, PO Box 18110, Jerusalem 91180, Israel. Tel: +972 2 584 7211, fax: +972 2 581 1904, URL: http://www.moch.gov.il/ Ministry of Health, 2 Ben-Tabai Street, PO Box 1176, Jerusalem 91010, Israel. Tel: +972 2 670 5705, fax: +972 2 623 3026, URL: http://www.health.gov.il/
  • 6. Ministry of Religious Affairs, 236 Yaffo Street, PO Box 13059, Jerusalem 91130, Israel. Tel: +972 2 531 1171, fax: +972 2 531 1183, URL: http://www.religions.gov.il/ Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hakirya, Romema, Jerusalem 91950, Israel. Tel: +972 2 530 3111, fax: +972 2 530 3367, URL: http://www.mfa.gov.il/ Ministry of Education, 34 Shivtei Israel Street, PO Box 292, Jerusalem 91911, Israel. Tel: +972 2 560 2222, fax: +972 2 560 2223, URL: http://www.education.gov.il/ Ministry of Energy and Water, Deerekh Petah Tikva 48, Tel Avivi 61171, Israel. Tel: +972 3 638 8113, URL: http://www.mni.gov.il Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development, 8 Arania Street, Hakirya, Tel-Aviv 61070, Israel. Tel: +972 3 948 5555, URL: http://www.moag.gov.il/ Ministry of Tourism, 24 King George Street, PO Box 1018, Jerusalem 91009, Israel. Tel: +972 2 675 4909, fax: +972 2 673 3592, URL: http://www.tourism.gov.il Ministry of Industry and Trade, 30 Agron Street, PO Box 299, Jerusalem 91002, Israel. Tel: +972 2 622 0220, fax: +972 2 624 5110, URL: http://www.moit.gov.il/ Ministry of Communication, 23 Yaffo Street, Jerusalem 91999, Israel. Tel: +972 2 670 6320, fax: +972 2 670 6372, URL: http://www.moc.gov.il/ Ministry of Culture and Sport, URL: http://www.mcs.gov.il Political Parties Kadima. Tel: +972 (0)3 929 8600, URL: http://www.kadimasharon.co.il Leader: Tzipi Livni Labour Party, 110 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv, Israel. Tel: +972 (0)3 520 9272/63, fax: +972 (0)3 527 1744, URL: http://www.avoda2006.org.il/ Leader: Eitan Cabel Likud (Consolidation), 38 King George Street, Tel Aviv, Israel. URL: http://www.likudnik.co.il/ Leader: Benjamin Netanyahu Shas (International Organization of Torah-observant Sephardic Jews) URL: http://www.shasnet.org.il/index.asp Leader: Eliyahu Yishai Yisrael Beytenu, URL: http://beytenu.org Leader: Avigdor Lieberman National Union, URL: http://www.leumi.org.il Leader: Ya'akov Katz Meretz (Energy Together), URL: http://www.meretz.org.il/HomePage.htm Leader: Haim Oron Independence, URL: http://www.haatzmaut.org.il Leader: Ehud Barak United Torah Judaism, Leader: Yaakov Litzman Hazit Democratit le-Shalom ve-Shivayon (Hadash, Democratic Front for Peace and Equality), URL: http://www.hadash.org.il/ Leader: Mohammad Barakek Al Tahammu al-Watani al-Dimuqrati (Balad, National Democratic Alliance), URL: http://www.balad.org/ Leader: Jamal Zahalka United Arab List
  • 7. Leader: Ibrahim Sarsur The Jewish Home Leader: Daniel Hershkowitz Whole Nation Leader: Haim Amsalem Yesh Atid URL: http://www.yeshatid.org.il Leader: Yair Lapid Elections A system of proportional representation is used in Israel's elections and there is universal suffrage for those over the age of 18. As no party has so far commanded an absolute majority all cabinets have been coalitions between the major parties. The latest presidential election took place on the 13th June 2007. Shimon Peres of the Kadima party was voted into the office by the Knesset, and was sworn into office on July 15, 2007 for a seven-year term. He is the ninth President of Israel. His predecessor, Moshe Katsav, began a leave of absence due to police investigations in January 2007, and resigned on 1st July 2007. Elections for Prime Minister and the Knesset took place 10th February 2009. The election was called early after Ms Livni failed to form a new government following Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's decision to step down amid a corruption investigation. The governing centrist Kadima won 28 seats and the right-wing Likud opposition won 27; both were well short of the 61 seats needed to form a government. The ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu won15 seats, and the Labour Party were pushed into an unprecedented fourth place. The President asked Mr. Netanyahu to form a coalition government. The centre-left Labour party narrowly voted to join the coalition government; the far right Yisrael Beiteinu and ultra-Orthodox Jewish party Shas also agreed to join. The most recent election was held in January 2013, Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud-Beitenu remained the largest grouping in parliament but lost a quater of its seats. The newly formed Yesh Atid party came second and Mr Netanyahu offered Yesh Atid a place in his government. Parties in the Knesset (following 2013 election) No. of Seats Likud Yisrael Beytenu 31 Yesh Atid 19 Labor Party 15 The Jewish Home 12 Shas (Sephardi Religious Party) 11 United Torah Judaism 7 Hatnuah 6 Meretz 6 Ra'am Ta'al (United Arab List) 4 Hadash 4 Balad (National Democratic Assembly) 3 Kadima 2 Total 120 Diplomatic Representation Embassy of Israel, 2 Palace Green, Kensington, London W8 4QB, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (0)20 7957 9500, fax: +44 (0)20 7957 9555, e-mail: info-assist@london.mfa.gov.il, URL: http://www.embassyofisrael.co.uk Ambassador: Daniel Taub
  • 8. Embassy of Israel, 3514 International Drive, NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA. Tel: +1 202 364 5542, fax: +1 202 364 5423, e-mail: ask@israelemb.org, URL: http://www.israelemb.org/ Ambassador: Michael Oren British Embassy, 192 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv 63405, Israel. Tel: +972 3 725 1222, fax: +972 3 524 3313 (commercial), e-mail: webmaster.telaviv@fco.gov.uk, URL: http://ukinisrael.fco.gov.uk/en Ambassador: Matthew Gould US Embassy, 71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv 63903, Israel. Tel: +972 3 519 7575, fax: +972 3 517 3227, e-mail: webmaster@usembassy-israel.org.il, URL: http://telaviv.usembassy.gov Ambassador: Daniel B. Shapiro Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, 800 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017, USA. Tel: +1 212 499 5510, fax: +1 212 499 5516, e-mail: israelun@newyork.mfa.gov.il, URL: http://www.israel-un.org/ Ambassador: Ron Prosor Legal System The Basic Law provides for three levels of courts: the Supreme Court (an appellate court which also functions as the High Court of Justice); district courts, and magistrates' courts (both trial courts), including the Court of Traffic Offenses, Family Courts and Juvenile Courts. There are also National and Regional Labour Courts. There is judicial autonomy for the main religious communities in all matters affecting personal status (such as marriage or divorce), where cases are heard by the relevant religious authority, Jewish, Christian, Druze or Muslim. Municipal courts exist in certain of the municipal areas, magistrate's courts in the districts and sub-districts and district courts in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beersheba and Nazareth. The Supreme Court sits as a Court of Civil Appeal, Criminal Appeal and a High Court of Justice. The number of Supreme Court justices is determined by a resolution of the Knesset. Usually, there are twelve Justices, but at present there are fourteen Supreme Court Justices. At the head of the Supreme Court and of the whole judicial system is the President of the Supreme Court. The government generally respects the human rights of the Israeli citizens. However, there have been some high-profile cases involving corruption by political leaders. There is institutional and legal discrimination against Arabs, and the government maintains unequal educational systems for Arab and Jewish students. Israeli law provides for the death penalty only for exceptional crimes such as those committed under military law or in exceptional circumstances. The most recent execution took place in 1962. Supreme Court of Israel, URL: http://elyon1.court.gov.il/eng/home/index.html President of the Supreme Court: D. Grunis Attorney General: Yehuda Weinstein Local Government Israel is divided into six administrative districts: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Northern (Tiberias), Central (Ramle), and Southern (Beersheba). The administration of these is coordinated by the Ministry of Interior. The Ministry of Defense is responsible for the administration of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The occupied Golan Heights is a subdistrict of the Northern District. Each district is governed by a commissioner appointed by the central government. There are three types of local authorities: municipalities (with populations over 20,000); local councils (with populations between 2,000 and 20,000); and regional councils (with populations up to 2,000). Individual local authorities are governed by a mayor or chairperson in addition to a council. The Ministry of the Interior allocates the number of council members according to the population of each authority. As of 2011, there were 73 municipalities, 124 local councils and 54 regional councils. Local government elections are held every five years by secret ballot and any permanent resident from the age of 18, regardless of nationality, is eligible to vote. Area and Population Area Israel (as defined by the 1949 armistice boundaries) covers an area of 21,000 sq. km. However, in 1967 it occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, and in 1981, it unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights. In 2005, the Israelis withdrew from Gaza. Israel's borders and the status of Jerusalem continue to be disputed. Israel has four main regions: a central mountainous area; coastal plains; lowlands in the West; and the Negev desert. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth at 423 metres below sea level. The highest point in Israel is Mount Hermon at 2,224 m. The climate is temperate, with hot, dry conditions in southern and eastern desert areas. The Jordan river is the only river in Israel (approx. 250 km). To view a map, please visit http://www.un.org/Depts/Cartographic/map/profile/israel.pdf Population
  • 9. Israel's population in 2010 was 7.695 million, with an annual increase of around 2.1 per cent for the period 2000-10. The population density per sq. mile was 334.5 at the end of 2010, the highest density being in Tel Aviv District (7,470 persons per sq. mile). Jerusalem District had a population density of 1,447 persons per sq. mile. The largest cities, according to 2010 figures, are: Jerusalem (788,100), Tel-Aviv-Yafo (404,300), Haifa (268,200), Rishon LeZiyyon (231,000) and Petah Tiqwa (211,100). Over 92 per cent of Israel's population lives in urban areas. (Source: http://www1.cbs.gov.il) Approximately 79.5 per cent of the population were Jews and others, whilst 20.5 per cent were Arab. Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages of the State. Births, Marriages, Deaths The number of live births rose from 148,170 in 2006 to 166,255 in 2010, whilst the number of deaths rose from 38,666 to 39,950 over the same period. In 2010, the crude birth rate was 21.8 per 1,000 population and the crude death rate was 5.2 per 1,000 population. The fertility rate was 3.03 children born per woman. Life expectancy at birth in 2010 for men was 79.7 years, and for women, it was 83.4 years. Healthy life expectancy was 72 years and 74 years respectively. Approximately 34 per cent of the population is aged 18 years or less, 55.8 per cent between 19-64, and 9.9 per cent over 65 years. The median age was 30. In 2009, 48,997 marriages took place (a crude mariage rate of 6.5 per 1,000 population) and 13,233 divorces took place. (Source: CBS, Statistics Abstract of Israel) Public Holidays 2013 24 February: Purim 26 March-1 April: Passover (Pesach) 7 April: Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom HaShoah) 27 April: Independence Day (Yom Ha Atzmaut) 15 May: Pentecost (Shavuot) 16 July: The Fast of Av (Tish'a B'av) 5-6 September: Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) 14 September: Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) 19 September: Tabernacles (Sukkot) 26 September: Shmini Atzeret 27 September: Simchat Torah 27 November: Chanukah (Festival of Lights) NB: The Jewish year runs from the equivalent of September to September. Public Holidays 2014 15-16 March: Purim 15-22 April: Passover (Pesach) 27 April: Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom HaShoah) 27 April: Independence Day (Yom Ha Atzmaut) 4 June: Pentecost (Shavuot) 5 August: The Fast of Av (Tish'a B'av) 25-26 September: Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) 4 October: Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) 8 October: Tabernacles (Sukkot)
  • 10. 16 October: Shmini Atzeret / Simchat Torah 17 November: Chanukah (Festival of Lights) NB: The Jewish year runs from the equivalent of September to September. Employment In 2011, there was a total estimated workforce of 3,147,100. The total number of employed people was 2.642 million in 2011.The civilian unemployment rate in 2010 was 6.6 per cent in 2010. Employment by Sector, 2008 Sector No. employed Agriculture, hunting & forestry Mining & quarrying Manufacturing Electricity and water 46,500 5,000 421,000 19,900 Construction 150,700 Wholesale and retail trade, repairs 377,900 Hotels and restaurants 129,900 Transport, storage and communication 174,500 Financial intermediation 99,200 Real estate and business activities 388,900 Public administration and defence 130,600 Education 349,300 Health and welfare 274,600 Community, social, personal services 130,300 Households with employed persons 46,200 Not classifiable 29,000 Total employment 2,776,700 Source: Copyright © International Labour Organization (ILO Dept. of Statistics, http://laborsta.ilo.org) Banking and Finance Currency One New Israeli Shekel (NIS) = 100 agorot GDP/GNP, Inflation, National Debt Israel's economy is still relatively strong despite the global financial crisis This is largely due to its technological research and development sector. Israel is in the process of applying to join the OECD. The long-term outlook depends on the conflict with the Palestinians, and the political and security situation in the region. Assisted by growth in the high-technology sector and tourism, together with higher direct foreign investment and increased exports, Israel's economy turned from a recession in 2001-02 to growth of 5.2 per cent in 2005 and 4.8 per cent in 2006. GDP reached $170.3 billion in 2006, whilst per capita GDP was an estimated $26,800 in the same year. GDP growth was estimated to grow by 5.3 per cent in 2007 and by 4.1 per cent in 2008. Growth began to slow in the last quarter of 2008. Figures for 2009 show that GDP was NIS 768 billion, reflecting a growth rate that year of 0.8 per cent. GDP was US$217.8 billion (ppp) in 2010 with a growth rate of 4.8 per cent. Per capita GDP in 2010 was US$28,571. (Source: CBS) Despite the global economic crisis, Israel's GDP was reported to have grown by 4.8 per cent in 2011. It is forecast to fall to 3.6 per cent in 2012. Major industries are information technology, electronics, telecommunications, biotechnology and tourism. Israel is a world leader in software development and is an important centre for diamond cutting. The services sector is Israel's largest contributor towards GDP, accounting for around 59 per cent, whilst industry contributes 38 per cent, and agriculture 3 per cent. Gross Domestic Product at Basic Prices (2005 prices) Figures in NIS million
  • 11. Industry 2008 2009 177,098 181,610 Transport, storage & communications 50,552 49,358 Trade accomodation services & restaurants 61,188 60,008 Construction 30,383 30,105 Manufacturing 98,774 92,255 Total 441,119 441,550 Finance & business services Source: Central Bureau of Statistics Inflation was estimated to be 3.5 per cent in 2011. Israel's total external debt was estimated to be US$84 million at the end of 2009, approximately 45 per cent of GDP. Israel's 2008 budget totalled NIS314 billion. The budget was set at NIS 245 billion in 2009. Debt repayment and military spending are the main components of budget spending. As of 2010, government liabilities was equivalent to 74.6 per cent of GDP. Balance of Payments / Imports and Exports Israel's major trading partners are the European Union and the United States. Figures from 2009 show that exports cost US$ 45.9 billion and imports earned US$ 46.0 billion. Exports of Selected Commodities (excluding Palestinian Authority) 2009 Destination Diamonds % of all exports 24.2 Pharmaceutical products 8.9 Electronic integrated circuits 7.5 Electrical apparatus for line telephony 4.6 Mineral or chemical fertilizers 4.1 Aircraft parts 3.5 Mineral or chemical fertilizers 2.1 Tools & equipment for medical sciences 1.8 Implements and tools for measuring 1.2 Pesticides and herbicides 1.2 Source: Central Bureau of Statistics Imports of Selected Commodities (excluding Palestinian Authority & direct defense Imports) 2009 Destination % of all imports Diamonds 11.2 Crude oils 10.8 Passenger vehicles 5.2 Petroleum oils 2.9 Electronical apparatus for line telephony 2.5 Coal 2.4 Pharmaceutical products 2.4 Computers 2.0 Electronic integrated circuits 1.6
  • 12. Destination % of all imports Relevisions 1.1 Source: Central Bureau of Statistics Central Bank Bank of Israel, PO Box 780, Qiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem 91007, Israel. Tel: +972 2 6552211, fax: +972 2 6528805, URL: http://www.boi.org.il/he/Pages/Default.aspx Governor: Prof. Stanley Fischer Chambers of Commerce and Trade Organisations Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, URL: http://www.tase.co.il/taseeng Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, URL: http://www.chamber.org.il Manufacturing, Mining and Services Primary and Extractive Industries There are large deposits of phosphates, copper, bitumen, manganese, iron, granite, marble, clay, feldspar, and silicate sand in Israel. Most activity is in the Negev and Dead Sea area. Israel exported around US$6,364 million worth of polished diamonds and US$2,921.9 million worth of rough diamonds in 2004, indicating increases of 13 and 31 per cent respectively over the previous year. Proven oil reserves fell from 3.8 million barrels at the beginning of 2004 to below 1 million barrels in 2012. Israel produced around 4,000 barrels of oil per day in 2011, and imported most of its requirements of 237,000 barrels per day. Most imports come from Russia and the Caspian area. Israel has begun to import larger quantities of Azeri oil. There are two major refineries, located at Haifa (130,000 bbl/d) and Ashdod (90,000 bbl/d). Oil Refineries Ltd (ORL) is one of Israel's largest energy companies and operates the country's largest oil refining and petrochemical complex. The major pipeline is Tipline, which runs from Eilat to Ashkelon, and has a capacity of 800,000 barrels per day. Natural gas reserves were estimated at 7 billion cubic feet in January 2011. This figure includes reserves from a major field recently found 12 miles offshore. The field contains reserves estimated at 274 billion cubic feet and was the third offshore gas field found in 2000. Natural gas production in 2011 was estimated at 92 billion cubic feet, all of which was used domestically. Consumption was 117 billion cu ft. Coal consumption was an estimated 13 million short tons in 2010, all of which was imported. (Source: EIA) Energy Israel's total energy consumption has been stable since 2000, and was estimated at 0.9 quadrillion Btu. in 2009. Total energy production was 0.043 quadrillion Btu. In 2009, installed electricity capacity was an estimated 12.07 GWe from 17 power stations. Electricity generation stood at 51.46 billion kWh in 2009, and consumption rose to 45.49 billion kWh. The government is in the process of converting its coal and oil-fired generators to natural gas, and hoped to generate 50 per cent of its electricity from gas by 2010. Israel uses solar energy for water heating and is a major exponent of solar technology. Around 80 per cent of Israeli homes have solar water heaters. In July 2006, construction began on a solar energy plant, in the Negev desert. It is expected to start producing power in 2013. Israel's first commercial solar field (Ketura Sun) was built in 2011 and is expected to produce 9GWh of electricity per year. Israel has two nuclear research centres: the Nahal Sorek Nuclear Research Centre and the Negev Nuclear Research Centre. The main areas of research and study are nuclear physics and chemistry, reactor engineering, radiation research, application of isotopes, metallurgy, electronics, radiobiology, nuclear medicine, nuclear power and desalination. (Source: EIA) Manufacturing The industrial sector is dynamic and widely diversified, producing both for domestic consumption and export. Israel has developed high technology products in the fields of medical electronics, agrotechnology, telecommunications, fine chemicals and solar energy. It also is a world leader in software development and diamond cutting and polishing. Traditional industrial activities include metal products, processed foods, textiles and fashion, fertilizers, chemicals, and transport equipment. In recent years the kibbutz system, traditionally based on agriculture, has undergone a rapid process of industrialization, with industrial output accounting for about half of its total revenue. This production represents a growing proportion of Israel's total industrial output and around 6 per cent of industrial exports (excluding diamonds). Products of the 330 kibbutz factories range from processed foods, advanced irrigation systems and agricultural machinery to plastics, furniture and optical equipment, among many others.
  • 13. Tourism Israel was a major tourist destination prior to the violence that began in 2000. Numbers dipped from 2,416,800 in 2000 to 1,505,500 in 2004 before rising to 1,825,200 in 2006. In 2010 there were 3.4 million visitors to Israel, mostly from the USA and Europe. Agriculture Israel's agricultural industry employs just 3 per cent of people. Total area under cultivation is about 1.1 million acres with 0.6 million acres of irrigated land. Most of Israel's food needs are met domestically though some products are imported; however, these are funded by food exports. Production consists mainly of dairy and poultry products and fruits and vegetables. Agricultural Production in 2010 Produce Int. $'000* Tonnes Indigenous chicken meat 640,177 449,434 Cow milk, whole, fresh 401,579 1,292,060 Inidigenous cattle meat 193,661 71,690 Tomatoes 165,044 446,592 Chillies and peppers, green 138,544 294,300 Indigenous turkey meat 117,547 89,941 Potatoes 89,969 548,650 Hen eggs, in shell 84,996 548,650 Olives 58,852 73,500 Carrots and turnips 58,448 234,261 Apples 55,602 131,474 Grapes 54,347 95,075 * unofficial figures Source: http://faostat.fao.org/site/339/default.aspx Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Food and Agricultural commodities production In 2010, the total catch of fish was put at 2,500 tonnes. 142,000 hectares were dedicated to pasture, and livestock consisted of some 400,000 head of cattle and 454,000 sheep and goats. Communications and Transport Travel Requirements Citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia and the EU require a passport valid for six months beyond the length of stay but do not need a visa for stays of up to 90 days (apart from Romanians who do need a visa). Visitors should also have an onward or return ticket, and proof of sufficient funds are required for entry. Other nationals should contact the embassy to check visa requirements. Former Israeli citizens holding a foreign passport must have written proof of having given up Israeli identity, otherwise they may be required to obtain a new Israeli passport or renew their original one. Tourists continuing to Arab countries excluding Egypt and Jordan are recommended to request that an Israeli stamp does not appear in their passport. National Airlines El Al Israel Airlines, URL: http://www.elal.co.il/ELAL/English/States/General/ Established in 1948 as the national Israel Airlines. International Airports There are international airports at Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem and Eilat. Israel's main international airport, Ben-Gurion Airport, handled over 11 million passengers in 2008. In 2010, 11.57 million air passengers were transported. Israel Airports Authority, URL: http://www.iaa.gov.il/Rashat/en-US/Rashot
  • 14. Railways There are an estimated 975 km of track. The state owned Israel Railways provides passenger services between Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Nahariya. Freight services also operate further south serving the port of Ashdod, and the towns of Ashkelon, Be'er Sheva and the mineral quarries south of Dimona. A small subway service is in operation in Haifa. A long-delayed light railway system finally opened in Jerusalem in 2011. Work began on a light-railway systemTel Aviv in 2011 and is scheduled to begin operating in 2017. Trains do not run on the Jewish sabbath. In 2010, there were 35.88 million passengers and 7.023 million tons of freight were transported. (Source: http://www1.cbs.gov.il) Roads In Israel vehicles are driven on the right. There are over 18,000 km of roads. In 2010, 2.053 million private vehicles and 347,152 trucks and commercial vehicles were reigstered. There were 14,762 buses. There were 3.538 million licenced drivers. Ports and Harbours The main ports are Haifa, Eilat and Ashdod. Israel's seaports handle 98 per cent of the country's import and export cargo. Haifa Port, URL: http://www.haifaport.co.il/english.aspx Health In 2009, 7.6 per cent of Israel's GDP was spent on healthcare. Approximately 60.3 per cent of healthcare costs were covered by the state, and 39.7 being paid for privately. Social security expenditure on health was 64.1 per cent of government expenditure. Out-of-pocket expenditure accounted for 73.5 per cent of private healthcare spending, and pre-paid plans accounted for 16.6 per cent. (Source: WHO) Israel's medical infrastructure comprises hospitals, outpatient clinics and centers for preventive medicine and rehabilitation. In 2004, there were nearly 40,000 hospital beds available: 15,000 were for general care, 17,000 for long term patients and around 6,000 for psychiatric patients. In 2005-10, there were approximately 26,700 doctors (36.5 per 10,000 population), 6,400 dentistry personnel, 37,898 nurses and midwives (51.8 per 10,000 population) and 4,900 pharmaceutical personnel (6.7 per 10,000 population). In 2009, the infant mortality rate (probability of dying by age 1) was 4 per 1,000 live births and the child (under-fives mortality rate) was 5 per 1,000 live births. In 2010 the distribution of causes of death among children aged under 5 years was 38 per cent congenital abnormalities and 21 per cent prematurity. All of the population has sustained access to drinking water and to improved sanitation. (Source: http://www.who.int, World Health Statistics 2012) Education The state education system comprises one year each of nursery school and kindergarten, six years of elementary school and three years each of junior high and high school. Two school systems are maintained; the Jewish system, with instruction in Hebrew; and the Arab/Druze system, with instruction in Arabic. Both systems are financed by and accountable to the Ministry of Education and Culture, but enjoy a large measure of internal independence. The Jewish education system consists of state schools, state-religious schools and government-recognised independent religious schools. The state and state-religious schools offer similar academic curricula, with the latter placing special emphasis on Jewish studies, tradition and observance. State schools are co-educational, while in the statereligious school network children may either attend mixed or separate schools. The independent schools, affiliated with various Orthodox Jewish trends, offer more intensive religious instruction and provide separate premises for girls and boys. The Arab/Druze education system, with separate schools for Arab and Druze pupils, provides the standard academic and vocational curricula, adapted to emphasize Arab or Druze culture and history. Religious instruction in Islam or Christianity is provided by Arab schools, while in Druze schools it is the prerogative of the community elders. Pre-School Israel has one of the highest rates of pre-school attendance in the world with 98 per cent of young children attending some form of pre-school programme. Primary/Secondary Education Figures for 2007 show enrollment in primary education at 98 per cent for girls and 97 per cent for boys. Pupil:teacher ratio in primary schools was 13:1. In the academic period 2009-10, an estimated 1,978,927 pupils were enrolled and there were 132,578 teaching staff were registered. Of this, 470,025 pupils in pre-primary education, 884,685 in primary education, 259,834 in lower secondary education and 364,383 in upper secondary education. In the same period, there were an estimated 132,747 teachers in pre-primary education, 67,283 in primary education, 24,215 in lower seocndary education and 40,815 in upper secondary education. (Source: http://www1.cbs.gov.il) Vocational Education At secondary school level, students have the following options: the academic track, leading to matriculation and university admission; the technological/vocational track,
  • 15. leading to various technicians' certificates with or without matriculation; agricultural schools, usually residential and matriculation optional. There are also military preparatory schools, combining general studies with military subjects. Military service is compulsory for both sexes at 18 years of age for Jews and Druze, and voluntary for Christians, Muslims and Circassians. Conscript service last 36 months for enlisted men, 21 months for enlisted women and 48 months for officers. Higher Education Post-secondary education in Israel is under the authority of the Council for Higher Education, headed by the Minister of Education and Culture. Members of the Council - which include academics as well as community representatives and at least one student - are appointed by the president, on recommendation of the government, for five-year terms. By law, Israel's universities enjoy full academic and administrative freedom, including faculty appointments, student admissions, formulation of curricula and conduct of research programmes. In addition to the universities, there are institutes of higher education specialising in such fields as fine arts, music, graphic design, teaching, nursing, advanced technology, and fashion design. In the academic period 2009/10 there were 33,419 university degrees awarded in total. In 2010, the government spent 15.9 per cent of its budget on education. (Source: http://www1.cbs.gov.il) Religion In 2006, of the Jewish and other population, 94.6 per cent were Jews, 4.9 per cent were not classified by religion and 0.5 per cent were non-Arab Christians. Of the Arab population, Muslims make up 83 per cent, Druze, 8.3 per cent and Arab Christians, 8.5 per cent (Source: Central Bureau of Statistics) There is a Ministry for the supervision of religious affairs, with separate departments for Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Druze religions. The religious affairs of each community are otherwise under the full control of the religious order concerned. Israel has a religious liberty rating of 4 on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 is most freedom). (Source: World Religion Database) Ministry of Religious Affairs, URL: http://www.religions.gov.il Sephardic Chief Rabbi: Rabbi Shlomo Amar Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi: Rabbi Yona Metzger Communications and Media The press and broadcasters offer wide and varied views. There is freedom of expression but also some military censorship. Newspapers Numerous publications exist, both dailies and weeklies. Many are available online. All are privately owned. The Jerusalem Post, URL: http://www.jpost.com Maariv, URL: http://www.nrg.co.il/online/HP_0.html Ha'aretz, URL: http://www.haaretz.com/ Broadcasting The Israel Broadcasting Authority (URL: http://www.iba.org.il/) governs both the state-run television Channel 1 and public radio. Channel 2 and Israel 10 are the main commercial TV networks. Most Israeli households subscribe to cable or satellite packages. Telecommunications Israel is fully integrated into international communications systems by means of underwater cables and communications satellites. According to 2010 CBS figures, there were 3.14 million mainline telephone subscribers. There were an estimated 9.5 million mobile phone users. According to 2009 estimates, over 4.5 million people had internet access. Environment Israel's environmental problems include limited freshwater resources and arable land, desertification, industrial and vehicle air pollution, and groundwater pollution. Energy-related carbon emissions in 2010 were estimated at 70.32 million metric tons (up from 66.85 million metric tons in 2008). Industry accounts for the highest proportion of carbon emissions, followed by the transport, residential and commercial sectors. Per capita carbon emissions in 2006 were an estimated 10.36 metric tons. (Source: EIA)
  • 16. Israel is a party to the following international environmental agreements: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, and Whaling. Israel has signed, but not ratified, the Marine Life Conservation agreement. Space Programme The Israel Space Agency (ISA) was established in in 1983 and Israel's first satellite was launched in 1988. It has an annual budget of US$6 million. It has signed co-operation agreements with the space agencies of the USA, France, Canada, India, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, the Netherlands and Brazil. Israel Space Agency, URL: http://www.most.gov.il/ Cite this page "Israel." International Year Book and Statesmen's Who's Who. Edited by: Jennifer Dilworth, Megan Stuart-Jones. Brill Online, 2013. Library. 27 October 2013 <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/international-year-book-and-statesmens-who-s-who/israel-COM_state_3175>

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