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State of Israel
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Area: 20,330 sq.
km.1 (7,850 sq. mi.); about the size of New Jersey.
Other cities--Tel Aviv, Haifa.
Terrain: Plains, mountains, desert, and
Climate: Temperate, except in desert areas.
Population: 6.7 million (November 2003 estimate).
Annual population growth
rate: 1.39% (2003 estimate).
Ethnic groups: Jews, 80.1% (slightly less than
5 million), non-Jews (mostly Arab), 19.9% (approximately 1.3 million) (estimates).
Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Druze.
Languages: Hebrew (official), Arabic (official),
Education: 11 years compulsory. Literacy--95.4%
(female 93.6%; male 97.3%).
Health: Infant mortality rate--4.9/1,000,
(2002 estimate). Life expectancy at birth--79.02 years; female, 81.19 years,
male 76.95 years.
Work force (2.3 million): (1Q 2003) Manufacturing--16.8%;
commerce--12.8%; education--2.8%; other business services--12.9%;
health and social services--10.2%; community services--4.7%; construction--5.5%;
transportation--6.3%; public administration--5.7%; hotels and
restaurants--4%; banking and finance--3.4%; agriculture--1.7%;
electricity and water-- less than 1%. other--less than 2.2%.
Independence: May 14, 1948.
however, the Declaration of Establishment (1948), the Basic Laws of the parliament
(the Knesset) and the Israeli citizenship law fill many of the functions of a
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state); prime
minister (head of government). Legislative--unicameral, Knesset. Judicial--Supreme
Political parties: Labor, Likud, and various other secular and religious
parties, including some wholly or predominantly supported by Israel's Arab citizens.
A total of 12 parties are represented in the 16th Knesset, elected January 2003.
Next election in 2006.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
GDP: $117.4 billion (2002 estimated).
Annual growth rate: 1.2% (2003).
capita GDP (2002): $19,500.
Currency: Shekel, (4.56 shekels = 1 U.S. dollar)
Natural resources: Copper, phosphate, bromide, potash, clay,
sand, sulfur, bitumen, manganese.
Agriculture: Products--citrus and
other fruits, vegetables, beef, dairy, and poultry products.
projects--including aviation, communications, computer-aided design and manufactures,
medical electronics--wood and paper products, potash and phosphates, processed
foods, chemicals, diamond cutting and polishing, metal products.
billion (2002). Exports include polished diamonds, electronic communication, medical
and scientific equipment, chemicals and chemical products, electronic components
and computers, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, rubber, plastics,
and textiles. Imports (excluding defense imports)--$30.8 billion (2002):
raw materials, diamonds, energy ships and airplanes, machinery, equipment, land
transportation equipment for investment, and consumer goods. Major partners--U.S.,
UK, Germany Imports: U.S., Germany, Italy.
2Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in 1950. The
United States, like nearly all other countries, maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv.
Of the approximately
6.4 million Israelis in 2001, about 5.2 million were counted as Jewish, though
some of those are not considered Jewish under Orthodox Jewish law. Since 1989,
nearly a million immigrants from the former Soviet Union have arrived in Israel,
making this the largest wave of immigration since independence. In addition, almost
50,000 members of the Ethiopian Jewish community have immigrated to Israel, 14,000
of them during the dramatic May 1991 Operation Solomon airlift. Thirty-six percent
of Israelis were born outside Israel.
three broad Jewish groupings are the Ashkenazim, or Jews who trace their ancestry
to western, central, and eastern Europe; the Sephardim, who trace their origin
to Spain, Portugal, southern Europe, and North Africa; and Eastern or Oriental
Jews, who descend from ancient communities in Islamic lands. Of the non-Jewish
population, about 73% are Muslims, about 10.5% are Christian, and under 10% are
Education is compulsory from
age 6 to 16 and is free up to age 18. The school system is organized into kindergartens,
6-year primary schools, 3-year junior secondary schools, and 3-year senior secondary
schools, after which a comprehensive examination is offered for university admissions.
There are seven university-level institutions in Israel, a number of regional
colleges, and an Open University program.
a population drawn from more than 100 countries on 5 continents, Israeli society
is rich in cultural diversity and artistic creativity. The arts are actively encouraged
and supported by the government. The Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra performs throughout
the country and frequently tours abroad. The Jerusalem Symphony and the New Israel
Opera also tour frequently, as do other musical ensembles. Almost every municipality
has a chamber orchestra or ensemble, many boasting the talents of gifted performers
from the countries of the former Soviet Union.
has several professional ballet and modern dance companies, and folk dancing,
which draws upon the cultural heritage of many immigrant groups, continues to
be very popular. There is great public interest in the theater; the repertoire
covers the entire range of classical and contemporary drama in translation as
well as plays by Israeli authors. Of the three major repertory companies, the
most famous, Habimah, was founded in 1917.
artist colonies thrive in Safed, Jaffa, and Ein Hod, and Israeli painters and
sculptors exhibit works worldwide. Israel boasts more than 120 museums, including
the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls along with an
extensive collection of regional archaeological artifacts, art, and Jewish religious
and folk exhibits. Israelis are avid newspaper readers, with more than 90% of
Israeli adults reading a newspaper at least once a week. Major daily papers are
in Hebrew; others are in Arabic, English, French, Polish, Yiddish, Russian, Hungarian,
of the State of Israel in 1948 was preceded by more than 50 years of efforts to
establish a sovereign nation as a homeland for Jews. These efforts were initiated
by Theodore Herzl, founder of the Zionist movement, and were given added impetus
by the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which asserted the British Government's support
for the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
the years following World War I, Palestine became a British Mandate and Jewish
immigration steadily increased, as did violence between Palestine's Jewish and
Arab communities. Mounting British efforts to restrict this immigration were countered
by international support for Jewish national aspirations following the near-extermination
of European Jewry by the Nazis during World War II. This support led to the 1947
UN partition plan, which would have divided Palestine into separate Jewish and
Arab states, with Jerusalem under UN administration.
May 14, 1948, soon after the British quit Palestine, the State of Israel was proclaimed
and was immediately invaded by armies from neighboring Arab states, which rejected
the UN partition plan. This conflict, Israel's War of Independence, was concluded
by armistice agreements between Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria in 1949
and resulted in a 50% increase in Israeli territory.
1956, French, British, and Israeli forces engaged Egypt in response to its nationalization
of the Suez Canal and blockade of the Straits of Tiran. Israeli forces withdrew
in March 1957, after the United Nations established the UN Emergency Force (UNEF)
in the Gaza Strip and Sinai. This war resulted in no territorial shifts and was
followed by several years of terrorist incidents and retaliatory acts across Israel's
In June 1967, Israeli forces
struck targets in Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in response to Egyptian President Nasser's
ordered withdrawal of UN peacekeepers from the Sinai Peninsula and the buildup
of Arab armies along Israel's borders. After 6 days, all parties agreed to a cease-fire,
under which Israel retained control of the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights,
the Gaza Strip, the formerly Jordanian-controlled West Bank of the Jordan River,
and East Jerusalem. On November 22, 1967, the Security Council adopted Resolution
242, the "land for peace" formula, which called for the establishment of a just
and lasting peace based on Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967
in return for the end of all states of belligerency, respect for the sovereignty
of all states in the area, and the right to live in peace within secure, recognized
The following years were
marked by continuing violence across the Suez Canal, punctuated by the 1969-70
war of attrition. On October 6, 1973--Yom Kippur (the Jewish Day of Atonement),
the armies of Syria and Egypt launched an attack against Israel. Although the
Egyptians and Syrians initially made significant advances, Israel was able to
push the invading armies back beyond the 1967 cease-fire lines by the time the
United States and the Soviet Union helped bring an end to the fighting. In the
UN Security Council, the United States supported Resolution 338, which reaffirmed
Resolution 242 as the framework for peace and called for peace negotiations between
In the years that followed,
sporadic clashes continued along the cease-fire lines but guided by the U.S.,
Egypt, and Israel continued negotiations. In November 1977, Egyptian President
Anwar Sadat made a historic visit to Jerusalem, which opened the door for the
1978 Israeli-Egyptian peace summit convened at Camp David by President Carter.
These negotiations led to a 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, pursuant
to which Israel withdrew from the Sinai in 1982, signed by President Sadat of
Egypt and Prime Minister Menahem Begin of Israel.
the years following the 1948 war, Israel's border with Lebanon was quiet relative
to its borders with other neighbors. After the expulsion of Palestinian fighters
from Jordan in 1970 and their influx into southern Lebanon, however, hostilities
along Israel's northern border increased and Israeli forces crossed into Lebanon.
After passage of Security Council Resolution 425, calling for Israeli withdrawal
and the creation of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon peacekeeping force (UNIFIL),
Israel withdrew its troops.
1982, following a series of cross-border terrorist attacks and the attempted assassination
of the Israeli Ambassador to the U.K., Israel invaded Lebanon to fight the forces
of Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The PLO withdrew its
forces from Lebanon in August 1982. Israel, having failed to finalize an agreement
with Lebanon, withdrew most of its troops in June 1985 save for a residual force
which remained in southern Lebanon to act as a buffer against attacks on northern
Israel. These remaining forces were completely withdrawn in May 2000 behind a
UN-brokered delineation of the Israel-Lebanon border (the Blue Line). Hizballah
forces in Southern Lebanon continued to attack Israeli positions south of the
Blue Line in the Sheba Farms/Har Dov area of the Golan Heights.
victory of the U.S.-led coalition in the Persian Gulf War of 1991 opened new possibilities
for regional peace. In October 1991, the United States and the Soviet Union convened
the Madrid Conference, in which Israeli, Lebanese, Jordanian, Syrian, and Palestinian
leaders laid the foundations for ongoing negotiations designed to bring peace
and economic development to the region. Within this framework, Israel and the
PLO signed a Declaration of Principles on September 13, 1993, which established
an ambitious set of objectives relating to a transfer of authority from Israel
to an interim Palestinian authority. Israel and the PLO subsequently signed the
Gaza-Jericho Agreement on May 4, 1994, and the Agreement on Preparatory Transfer
of Powers and Responsibilities on August 29, 1994, which began the process of
transferring authority from Israel to the Palestinians.
October 26, 1994, Israel and Jordan signed a historic peace treaty, witnessed
by President Clinton. This was followed by Israeli Prime Minister Rabin and PLO
Chairman Arafat's signing of the historic Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement
on September 28, 1995. This accord, which incorporated and superseded previous
agreements, broadened Palestinian self-government and provided for cooperation
between Israel and the Palestinians in several areas.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated on November 4, 1995, by a right-wing
Jewish radical, bringing the increasingly bitter national debate over the peace
process to a climax. Subsequent Israeli governments continued to negotiate with
the PLO resulting in additional agreements, including the Wye River and the Sharm
A summit hosted
by President Clinton at Camp David in July 2000 to address permanent status issues--including
the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, Israeli settlements in the West
Bank and Gaza, final security arrangements, borders, and relations and cooperation
with neighboring states--failed to produce an agreement.
the failed talks, widespread violence broke out in Israel, the West Bank, and
Gaza in September 2000. In April 2001 the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact Finding Committee,
commissioned by the October 2000 Middle East Peace Summit and chaired by former
U.S. Senator George Mitchell, submitted its report, which recommended an immediate
end to the violence followed by confidence-building measures and a resumption
of security cooperation and peace negotiations. The United States has worked intensively
to help bring an end to the violence between Israelis and Palestinians and bring
about the implementation of the recommendations of the Mitchell Committee as a
bridge back to political negotiations. In April 2003, the Quartet (the U.S., U.N.,
E.U., and the Russian Federation) announced the "roadmap," a performance-based
plan to bring about two states, Israel and a democratic, viable Palestine, living
side by side in peace and security. Both the Israelis and Palestinians have affirmed
their commitment to the roadmap, but continuing Israeli-Palestinian violence has
led to a continuing crisis of confidence between the two sides.
the promising developments of spring 2003, violence continued and in September
2003 the first Palestinian Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazin), resigned
after failing to win true authority to restore law and order, fight terror, and
reform Palestinian institutions. In response to the deadlock, in the winter of
2003-2004 Prime Minister Sharon put forward his Gaza disengagement plan, proposing
the withdrawal of Israeli settlements from Gaza as well as parts of the northern
West Bank. President Bush endorsed this initiative in an exchange of letters with
Prime Minister Sharon on April 14, 2004, viewing the Gaza disengagement initiative
as an opportunity to move towards implementation of the two-state vision and begin
the development of Palestinian institutions. The Quartet endorsed the initiative
in a meeting in May 2004 and since then the United States has been working intensively
with the parties to the conflict, regional partners, and the broad international
community to make Gaza disengagement a reality.
is a parliamentary democracy. Its governmental system is based on several basic
laws enacted by its unicameral parliament, the Knesset. The president (chief of
state) is elected by the Knesset for a 5-year term.
prime minister (head of government) exercises executive power and has in the past
been selected by the president as the party leader most able to form a government.
Between May 1996 and March 2001, Israelis voted for the prime minister directly.
(The legislation which required the direct election of the prime minister was
rescinded by the Knesset in March 2001.) The members of the cabinet must be collectively
approved by the Knesset.
120 members are elected by secret ballot to 4-year terms, although the prime minister
may decide to call for new elections before the end of the 4-year term. Voting
is for party lists rather than for individual candidates, and the total number
of seats assigned each party reflects that party's percentage of the vote. Successful
Knesset candidates are drawn from the lists in order of party-assigned rank. Under
the present electoral system, all members of the Knesset are elected at large.
The independent judicial system includes
secular and religious courts. The courts' right of judicial review of the Knesset's
legislation is limited. Judicial interpretation is restricted to problems of execution
of laws and validity of subsidiary legislation. The highest court in Israel is
the Supreme Court, whose judges are approved by the President.
is divided into six districts, administration of which is coordinated by the Ministry
of Interior. The Ministry of Defense is responsible for the administration of
the occupied territories.
Prime Minister—Ariel Sharon
Foreign Minister—Silvan Shalom (Likud)
Ambassador to the United
Ambassador to the United Nations—Dan Gillerman
maintains an embassy in the United States
at 3514 International Drive NW, Washington DC, 20008 (tel. 202-364-5500). There
also are consulates general in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles,
Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.
From the founding of Israel in 1948 until the election
of May 1977, Israel was ruled by successive coalition governments led by the Labor
alignment or its constituent parties. From 1967-70, the coalition government included
all of Israel's parties except the communist party. After the 1977 election, the
Likud bloc, then composed of Herut, the Liberals, and the smaller La'am Party,
came to power forming a coalition with the National Religious Party, Agudat Israel,
and others. As head of Likud, Menachem Begin became Prime Minister. The Likud
retained power in the succeeding election in June 1981, and Begin remained Prime
Minister. In the summer of 1983, Begin resigned and was succeeded by his Foreign
Minister, Yitzhak Shamir.
a Knesset vote of confidence early in 1984, Prime Minister Shamir was forced to
call for new elections, held in July of that year. The vote was split among numerous
parties and provided no clear winner, leaving both Labor and Likud considerably
short of a Knesset majority. Neither Labor nor Likud was able to gain enough support
from the small parties to form even a narrow coalition. After several weeks of
difficult negotiations, they agreed on a broadly based government of national
unity. The agreement provided for the rotation of the office of Prime Minister
and the combined office of Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister midway through
the government's 50-month term.
the first 25 months of unity government rule, Labor's Shimon Peres served as Prime
Minister, while Likud's Yitzhak Shamir held the posts of Vice Prime Minister and
Foreign Minister. Peres and Shamir switched positions in October 1986. The November
1988 elections resulted in a similar coalition government. Likud edged Labor out
by one seat but was unable to form a coalition with the religious and right wing
parties. Likud and Labor formed another national unity government in January 1989
without providing for rotation. Yitzhak Shamir became Prime Minister, and Shimon
Peres became Vice Prime Minister and Finance Minister.
national unity government fell in March 1990 in a vote of no confidence precipitated
by disagreement over the government's response to U.S. Secretary of State Baker's
initiative in the peace process. Labor Party leader Peres was unable to attract
sufficient support among the religious parties to form a government. Yitzhak Shamir
then formed a Likud-led coalition government, including members from religious
and right-wing parties.
took office in June 1990, and held power for 2 years. In the June 1992 national
elections, the Labor Party reversed its electoral fortunes, taking 44 seats. Labor
Party leader Yitzhak Rabin formed a coalition with Meretz (a group of three leftist
parties) and Shas (an ultra-Orthodox religious party). The coalition included
the support of two Arab-majority parties. Rabin became Prime Minister in July
1992. Shas subsequently left the coalition, leaving Rabin with a minority government
dependent on the votes of Arab parties in the Knesset.
was assassinated by a right-wing Jewish radical on November 4, 1995. Peres, then
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, once again became Prime Minister and
immediately proceeded to carry forward the peace policies of the Rabin government
and to implement Israel's Oslo commitments, including military redeployment in
the West Bank and the holding of historic Palestinian elections on January 20,
Enjoying broad public support
and anxious to secure his own mandate, Peres called for early elections after
just 3 months in office. (They would have otherwise been held by the end of October
1996.) In late February and early March, a series of suicide bombing attacks by
Palestinian terrorists took some 60 Israeli lives, seriously eroding public support
for Peres and raising concerns about the peace process. Increased fighting in
southern Lebanon, which also brought Katyusha rocket attacks against northern
Israel, also raised tensions and weakened the government politically a month before
the May 29 elections.
In those elections--the
first direct election of a Prime Minister in Israeli history (a practice now discontinued)--Likud
leader Binyamin Netanyahu won by a narrow margin, having sharply criticized the
government's peace policies for failing to protect Israeli security. Netanyahu
subsequently formed a predominantly right-wing coalition government publicly committed
to pursuing the peace process, but with an emphasis on security and reciprocity.
His initial coalition included Likud, allied with the Tsomet and Gesher parties
in a single list, three religious parties, and two centrist parties. The Gesher
Party withdrew from the coalition in January 1998. In 1999, facing increasing
difficulty passing legislation and defeating no-confidence motions, Netanyahu
dissolved parliament and called for new elections. This time, the Labor candidate--Ehud
Barak--was victorious. Barak formed a mixed coalition government of secular and
religious parties. Likud served in the opposition. In May 2000, Barak fulfilled
one of his major campaign promises by withdrawing Israeli forces from Southern
Lebanon. However, by mid-autumn, with the breakdown of the Camp David talks and
the worsening security situation caused by the new intifada, Barak's coalition
was in jeopardy. In December, he resigned as Prime Minister, precipitating a new
prime ministerial election.
In a special
election on February 6, 2001, after a campaign stressing security and maintaining
Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, Likud leader Ariel Sharon defeated Barak by
over 20 percentage points. As he had promised in his campaign, Sharon formed a
broad unity government that included the Labor and Likud parties, the far-right
parties, some smaller secular parties, and several religious parties. The unity
government collapsed in late 2002, and new elections were held in January 2003.
Sharon again won, and formed a new government consisting of his own Likud party,
the right-wing National Religious Party and National Union party, and centrist
The summer of 2004 saw renewed
instability in the government, as divisions over the Gaza disengagement plan resulted
in Sharon’s firing two ministers of the National Union Party and accepting the
resignation of a third from the National Religious Party in order to secure cabinet
approval of the plan (it was endorsed on June 6, 2004). As of September 2004,
Sharon is governing with a minority coalition and facing near-daily votes of no-confidence.
To counter this, Sharon has initiated coalition discussions with Labor and the
religious parties Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ) in an effort to regain a
majority in the Knesset and advance Gaza disengagement.
has a diversified, technologically advanced economy with substantial but decreasing
government ownership and a strong high-tech sector. The major industrial sectors
include high-technology electronic and biomedical equipment, metal products, processed
foods, chemicals, and transport equipment. Israel possesses a substantial service
sector and is one of the world's centers for diamond cutting and polishing. It
also is a world leader in software development and, prior to the violence that
began in September 2000, was a major tourist destination.
strong commitment to economic development and its talented work force led to economic
growth rates during the nation's first two decades that frequently exceeded 10%
annually. The years after the 1973 Yom Kippur War were a lost decade economically,
as growth stalled and inflation reached triple-digit levels. The successful economic
stabilization plan implemented in 1985 and the subsequent introduction of market-oriented
structural reforms reinvigorated the economy and paved the way for rapid growth
in the 1990s.
A wave of Jewish immigration
beginning in 1989, predominantly from the countries of the former U.S.S.R., brought
nearly a million new citizens to Israel. These new immigrants, many of them highly
educated, now constitute some 13% of Israel's 6.7 million inhabitants. Their successful
absorption into Israeli society and its labor force forms a remarkable chapter
in Israeli history. The skills brought by the new immigrants and their added demand
as consumers gave the Israeli economy a strong upward push and in the 1990’s,
they played a key role in the ongoing development of Israel's high-tech sector.
During the 1990s, progress in the Middle
East peace process, beginning with the Madrid Conference of 1991, helped to reduce
Israel's economic isolation from its neighbors and opened up new markets to Israeli
exporters farther afield. The peace process stimulated an unprecedented inflow
of foreign investment in Israel, and provided a substantial boost to economic
growth in the region over the last decade. The onset of the intifada beginning
at the end of September of 2000, the downturn in the high-tech sector and
Nasdaq crisis, and the slowdown of the global economy--particularly
the U.S. economy--have all significantly affected the Israeli economy during the
past three years.
particularly in the high-tech area, have in the past enjoyed considerable success
raising money on Wall Street and other world financial markets; Israel ranks second
to Canada among foreign countries in the number of its companies listed on U.S.
stock exchanges. Israel’s tech market is very developed, and in spite of the pause
in the industry’s growth, the high-tech sector is likely to be the major driver
of the Israeli economy. Almost half of Israel’s exports are high tech. Most leading
players, including Intel, IBM, and Cisco have a presence in Israel, and it is
worth noting that even during the downturn in the macroeconomic situation in Israel
these large players as well as others did not withdraw from the Israeli market.
Growth was an exceptional 6.2% in 2000,
due in part to a number of one-time high tech acquisitions and investments. This
exceptional year was followed by two years of negative growth of –0.9% and –1%,
respectively, in 2001 and 2002. As a result of the security situation, and associated
downturn in the economy, there has been a significant rise in unemployment and
wage erosion. This led to a decline in private consumption in 2002, the first
time that there had been negative private consumption since the early 1980’s.
The economy grew marginally in 2003 at a rate of 1.2%. The change in the geopolitical
situation as a result of the successful completion of the War in Iraq, combined
with the potential for some progress in the political situation, as well as the
approval of a GOI economic recovery plan, and approval of U.S. loan guarantees
are likely to have positive effects on the economy.
United States is Israel's largest trading partner. In 2002, two-way trade totaled
some $19.66 billion, and Israel had approximately a $5.88 billion trade surplus
with the U.S. The principal U.S. exports to Israel include civilian aircraft parts,
telecommunications equipment, semiconductors, civilian aircraft, electrical apparatus,
and computer accessories. Israel's chief exports to the U.S. include diamonds,
pharmaceutical preparations, telecommunications equipment, medicinal equipment,
electrical apparatus, and cotton apparel. The two countries signed a free trade
agreement (FTA) in 1985 that progressively eliminated tariffs on most goods traded
between the two countries over the following 10 years. An agricultural trade accord
signed in November 1996 addressed the remaining goods not covered in the FTA but
has not entirely erased barriers to trade in the agricultural sector. Israel also
has trade and cooperation agreements in place with the European Union, Canada,
Mexico, and other countries.
industry sectors in Israel for U.S. exporters are electricity and gas equipment,
defense equipment, medical instruments and disposable products, industrial chemicals,
telecommunication equipment, electronic components, building materials/construction
industries (DIY and infrastructure), safety and security equipment and services,
non-prescription drugs, travel and tourism services, and computer software.
In addition to seeking an end to hostilities with Arab forces,
against which it has fought five wars since 1948, Israel has given high priority
to gaining wide acceptance as a sovereign state with an important international
role. Before 1967, it had established diplomatic relations with a majority of
the world's nations, except for the Arab states and most other Muslim countries.
The Soviet Union and the communist states of eastern Europe (except Romania) broke
diplomatic relations with Israel during the 1967 war, but those relations were
restored by 1991.
Today, Israel has
diplomatic relations with 161 states. Following the signing of the Israel-PLO
Declaration of Principles on September 13, 1993, Israel established or renewed
diplomatic relations with 35 countries. Most important are its ties with Arab
states. Israel has full diplomatic relations with Egypt and Jordan.
October 1, 1994, the Gulf States publicly announced their support for a review
of the Arab boycott, in effect abolishing the secondary and tertiary boycotts
against Israel. 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.
Israel established relations with China and India in 1992 and with the Holy See
ground, air, and naval forces, known as the Israel Defense Force (IDF), fall under
the command of a single general staff. Conscription is universal for Jewish men
and women over the age of 18, although exemptions may be made on religious grounds.
Druze, members of a small Islamic sect living in Israel's mountains, also serve
in the IDF. Israeli Arabs, with few exceptions, do not serve. During 1950-66,
Israel spent an average of 9% of GDP on defense. Real defense expenditures increased
dramatically after both the 1967 and 1973 wars. The 2002 defense budget of $8.97
billion represented about 19.9% of the total government budget, which is equivalent
to 8.75% of GDP. The United States provides approximately $2 billion per year
in security assistance.
In 1983, the
United States and Israel established the Joint Political Military Group, which
meets twice a year. Both the U.S. and Israel participate in joint military planning
and combined exercises, and have collaborated on military research and weapons
to Israel's security and well being has been a cornerstone of U.S. policy in the
Middle East since Israel's creation in 1948, in which the United States played
a key supporting role. Israel and the United States are bound closely by historic
and cultural ties as well as by mutual interests. Continuing U.S. economic and
security assistance to Israel acknowledges these ties and signals U.S. commitment.
The broad issues of Arab-Israeli peace have been a major focus in the U.S.-Israeli
relationship. U.S. efforts to reach a Middle East peace settlement are based on
UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and have been based on the premise
that as Israel takes calculated risks for peace, the United States will help minimize
UNSC resolutions provided
the basis for cease-fire and disengagement agreements concerning the Sinai and
the Golan Heights between Israel, Egypt, and Syria and for promoting the Camp
David accords and the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty.
landmark October 1991 Madrid conference also recognized the importance of Security
Council Resolutions 242 and 338 in resolving regional disputes, and brought together
for the first time Israel, the Palestinians, and the neighboring Arab countries,
launching a series of direct bilateral and multilateral negotiations. These talks
were designed to finally resolve outstanding security, border, and other issues
between the parties while providing a basis for mutual cooperation on issues of
general concern, including the status of refugees, arms control and regional security,
water and environmental concerns, and economic development.
a bilateral level, relations between the United States and Israel have been strengthened
in recent years by the establishment of cooperative institutions in many fields.
Bilateral foundations in the fields of science and technology include the Binational
Science Foundation and the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Foundation.
The U.S.-Israeli Education Foundation sponsors educational and cultural programs.
In addition, the Joint Economic Development
Group maintains a high-level dialogue on economic issues. In early 1993, the United
States and Israel agreed to establish a Joint Science and Technology Commission.
In 1996, reflecting heightened concern about terrorism, the United States and
Israel established a Joint Counterterrorism Group designed to enhance cooperation
in fighting terrorism.
Ambassador--Daniel C. Kurtzer
Chief of Mission--Gene Cretz
Political Affairs--Norman Olsen
Consular Affairs--Phil Covington
Affairs--Helena K. Finn
Commercial Affairs--Michael Richardson
Defense Attaché--Col. Timothy Murphy
Legal Attaché--Cary Gleicher
Embassy in Israel is located at 71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv (tel. 03-519-7575).
U.S. Consulate General
Deputy Principal Officer--Maura Connelly
The U.S. consulate
general in Jerusalem has offices at 18 Agron Road (tel. 02-622-7230) and on Nablus
Road (tel. 02-622-7230). The Consulate General in Jerusalem is an independent
U.S. mission, established in 1928, whose members are not accredited to a foreign
U.S. Consular Agent
U.S. Consular Agent in Haifa is located at 26 Ben Gurion Boulevard (tel. 972-4-853-1470),
and reports to the Embassy in Tel Aviv. The Consular Agent can provide routine
and emergency services in the north.
AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information
Program provides Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings, and Public Announcements.
Consular Information Sheets exist for all countries and include information
on entry requirements, currency regulations, health conditions, areas of instability,
crime and security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts
in the country. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends
that Americans avoid travel to a certain country. Public Announcements
are issued as a means to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats
and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that pose significant risks
to the security of American travelers. Free copies of this information are available
by calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-on-demand
system: 202-647-3000. Consular Information Sheets and Travel Warnings also are
available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page: http://travel.state.gov/. Consular
Affairs Tips for Travelers publication series, which contain information on obtaining
passports and planning a safe trip abroad, are on the Internet and hard copies
can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing
Office, telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.
information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained from the Office
of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225. For after-hours emergencies,
Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-4000.
National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's
single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone:
1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service representatives and operators
for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time,
excluding federal holidays.
can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747) and
a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm
give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements,
and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet
entitled Health Information for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280)
is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel.
Information on travel
conditions, visa requirements, currency and customs regulations, legal holidays,
and other items of interest to travelers also may be obtained before your departure
from a country's embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see
"Principal Government Officials" listing in this publication).
citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas are encouraged
their travel via the State Department’s travel registration web site at https://travelregistration.state.gov/
or at the Consular section of the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country by filling
out a short form and sending in a copy of their passports. This may help family
members contact you in case of an emergency.
Department of State Web Site. Available on
the Internet at http://www.state.gov/, the Department
of State web site provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy
information, including Background Notes and
daily press briefings
along with the directory of key officers
of Foreign Service posts and more.
provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market information offered
by the federal government and provides trade leads, free export counseling, help
with the export process, and more.
a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides authoritative economic,
business, and international trade information from the Federal government. The
site includes current and historical trade-related releases, international market
research, trade opportunities, and country analysis and provides access to the
National Trade Data Bank.
US State Department