Israel

Israel

Background

Following World War II, the British withdrew from their mandate of Palestine, and the UN proposed partitioning the area into Arab and Jewish states, an arrangement rejected by the Arabs. Subsequently, the Israelis defeated the Arabs in a series of wars without ending the deep tensions between the two sides. (The territories Israel occupied since the 1967 war are not included in the Israel country profile, unless otherwise noted.) On 25 April 1982, Israel withdrew from the Sinai pursuant to the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. In keeping with the framework established at the Madrid Conference in October 1991, bilateral negotiations were conducted between Israel and Palestinian representatives and Syria to achieve a permanent settlement. Israel and Palestinian officials signed on 13 September 1993 a Declaration of Principles (also known as the “Oslo Accords”), enshrining the idea of a two-state solution to their conflict and guiding an interim period of Palestinian self-rule. Outstanding territorial and other disputes with Jordan were resolved in the 26 October 1994 Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace. Progress toward a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians was undermined by Israeli-Palestinian violence between 2001 and February 2005. Israel in 2005 unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip, evacuating settlers and its military while retaining control over most points of entry into the Gaza Strip. The election of HAMAS to head the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006 froze relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). In 2006 Israel engaged in a 34-day conflict with Hizballah in Lebanon in June-August 2006 and a 23-day conflict with HAMAS in the Gaza Strip during December 2008 and January 2009. Direct talks with the Palestinians launched in September 2010 collapsed following the expiration of Israel’s 10-month partial settlement construction moratorium in the West Bank. In November 2012, Israel engaged in a seven-day conflict with HAMAS in the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Binyamin NETANYAHU formed a coalition government in March 2013 following general elections in January 2013. Direct talks with the Palestinians resumed in July 2013 and but were suspended in late April 2014.

Geography

Location:
Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Lebanon

Geographic coordinates:
31 30 N, 34 45 E

Map references:
Middle East

Area:
total: 20,770 sq km
country comparison to the world: 154
land: 20,330 sq km
water: 440 sq km

Area – comparative:
Area comparison map:

Land boundaries:
total: 1,017 km
border countries: Egypt 266 km, Gaza Strip 51 km, Jordan 238 km, Lebanon 79 km, Syria 76 km, West Bank 307 km

Coastline:
273 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: to depth of exploitation

Climate:
temperate; hot and dry in southern and eastern desert areas

Terrain:
Negev desert in the south; low coastal plain; central mountains; Jordan Rift Valley

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Dead Sea -408 m
highest point: Har Meron 1,208 m

Natural resources:
timber, potash, copper ore, natural gas, phosphate rock, magnesium bromide, clays, sand

Land use:
arable land: 13.68%
permanent crops: 3.69%
other: 82.62% (2011)

Irrigated land:
2,250 sq km (2004)

Total renewable water resources:
1.78 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 1.95 cu km/yr (39%/6%/55%)
per capita: 282.4 cu m/yr (2009)

Natural hazards:
sandstorms may occur during spring and summer; droughts; periodic earthquakes

Environment – current issues:
limited arable land and natural freshwater resources pose serious constraints; desertification; air
pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; groundwater pollution from industrial and
domestic waste, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides

Environment – international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation

Geography – note:
Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee) is an important freshwater source; the Dead Sea is the second saltiest body of water in the world (after Lake Assal in Djibouti); there are about 355 Israeli civilian sites including about 145 small outpost communities in the West Bank, 41 sites in the Golan Heights, and 32 in East Jerusalem (2010 est.)


People & Society

Nationality:
noun: Israeli(s)
adjective: Israeli

Ethnic groups:
Jewish 75.1% (of which Israel-born 73.6%, Europe/America/Oceania-born 17.9%, Africa-born 5.2%, Asia-born 3.2%), non-Jewish 24.9% (mostly Arab) (2012 est.)

Languages:
Hebrew (official), Arabic (used officially for Arab minority), English (most commonly used foreign language)

Religions:
Jewish 75.1%, Muslim 17.4%, Christian 2%, Druze 1.6%, other 3.9% (2012 est.)

Population:
7,821,850
country comparison to the world: 99
note: approximately 341,400 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank (2012); approximately 18,900 Israeli settlers live in the Golan Heights (2012); approximately 196,400 Israeli settlers live in East Jerusalem (2011) (July 2014 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 27.1% (male 1,084,748/female 1,035,525)
15-24 years: 15.7% (male 628,205/female 599,871)
25-54 years: 37.8% (male 1,508,860/female 1,443,898)
55-64 years: 10.7% (male 333,453/female 352,302)
65 years and over: 10.5% (male 368,318/female 466,670) (2014 est.)

Dependency ratios:
total dependency ratio: 63.1 %
youth dependency ratio: 45.5 %
elderly dependency ratio: 17.6 %
potential support ratio: 5.7 (2014 est.)

Median age:
total: 29.9 years
male: 29.2 years
female: 30.6 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate:
1.46% (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 84

Birth rate:
18.44 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 101

Death rate:
5.54 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 175

Net migration rate:
1.68 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 53

Urbanization:
urban population: 91.9% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 1.73% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas – population:
Tel Aviv-Yafo 3.381 million; Haifa 1.054 million; JERUSALEM (capital) 791,000 (2009)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Mother’s mean age at first birth:
27.3 (2011 est.)

Maternal mortality rate:
7 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
country comparison to the world: 168

Infant mortality rate:
total: 3.98 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 199
male: 4.16 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 81.28 years
country comparison to the world: 19
male: 79.05 years
female: 83.61 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate:
2.62 children born/woman (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 75

Health expenditures:
7.7% of GDP (2011)
country comparison to the world: 71

Physicians density:
3.11 physicians/1,000 population (2011)

Hospital bed density:
3.4 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source:
improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
unimproved:
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2011 est.)

Sanitation facility access:
improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
unimproved:
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2011 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate:
0.2% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 104

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS:
7,500 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115

HIV/AIDS – deaths:
fewer than 100 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 120

Obesity – adult prevalence rate:
26.2% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 49

Education expenditures:
5.6% of GDP (2011)
country comparison to the world: 57

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.1%
male: 98.5%
female: 95.9% (2004 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 16 years
male: 15 years
female: 16 years (2009)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
total: 12.1%
country comparison to the world: 98
male: 11.6%
female: 12.7% (2012)


Government

Country name:
conventional long form: State of Israel
conventional short form: Israel
local long form: Medinat Yisra’el
local short form: Yisra’el

Government type:
parliamentary democracy

Capital:
name: Jerusalem: note – Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in 1950, but the US, like all other countries, maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv
geographic coordinates: 31 46 N, 35 14 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins Friday before the last Sunday in March; ends the last Sunday in October

Administrative divisions:
6 districts (mehozot, singular – mehoz); Central, Haifa, Jerusalem, Northern, Southern, Tel Aviv

Independence:
14 May 1948 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration)

National holiday:
Independence Day, 14 May (1948); note – Israel declared independence on 14 May 1948, but the Jewish calendar is lunar and the holiday may occur in April or May

Constitution:
no formal constitution; some functions of a constitution are filled by the Declaration of Establishment (1948), the Basic Laws of the Parliament (Knesset), and the Israeli citizenship law (2013)

Legal system:
mixed legal system of English common law, British Mandate regulations, and Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religious laws

International law organization participation:
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; withdrew acceptance of ICCt jurisdiction in 2002

Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Shimon PERES (since 15 July 2007)
head of government: Prime Minister Binyamin NETANYAHU (since 31 March 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet selected by prime minister and approved by the Knesset
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: president largely a ceremonial role and is elected by the Knesset for a seven-year term (one-term limit); election last held 13 June 2007 (next to be held in 2014 but can be called earlier); following legislative elections, the president, in consultation with party leaders, assigns the task of forming a governing coalition to a Knesset member whom he or she determines is most likely to accomplish that task
election results: Shimon PERES elected president; number of votes in first round – Shimon PERES 58, Reuven RIVLIN 37, Colette AVITAL 21; PERES elected president in second round with 86 votes (unopposed)

Legislative branch:
unicameral Knesset (120 seats; political parties are elected by popular vote and assigned seats for members on a proportional basis; members serve 4-year terms)
elections: last held on 22 January 2013 (next to be held in 2017)
election results: percent of vote by party – Likud-Beiteinu (combined for electoral purposes only) 23.3%, Yesh Atid 14.3%, Labor 11.4%, The Jewish Home 9.1%, SHAS 8.7%, United Torah Judaism 5.2%, The Movement 5%, The New Movement-Meretz 4.5%, United Arab List-Ta’al 3.6%, HADASH 3%, Balad 2.6%, Kadima 2.1%; other 7.2%; seats by party – Likud-Beiteinu 31, Yesh Atid 19, Labor 15, The Jewish Home 12, SHAS 11, United Torah Judaism 7, The Movement 6, Meretz 6, United Arab List-Ta’al 4, HADASH 4, Balad 3, Kadima 2
note: Ehud BARAK and four others on 17 January 2011 split from the Labor Party and formed the Atzmaut (Independence) Party; the Labor Party holds 8 seats in the Knesset and the Independence Party holds 5 seats; Aztmaut did not submit a candidate list for the election on 22 January 2013

Judicial branch:
highest court(s): Supreme Court ( consists of the chief justice and 14 judges)
judge selection and term of office: judges selected by the Judicial Selection Committee, made up of all three branches of the government and chaired by the Minister of Justice; judges can serve up to mandatory retirement age of 70
subordinate courts: district and magistrate courts; national and regional labor courts; special and religious courts

Political parties and leaders:
Balad [Jamal ZAHALKA]
Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (HADASH) [Muhammad BARAKEH]
Kadima [Shaul MOFAZ]
Labor Party [Yitzhak HERZOG]
Likud [Binyamin NETANYAHU]
National Union [Uri ARIEL]
SHAS [Eliyahu YISHAI]
The Jewish Home (HaBayit HaYehudi) [Naftali BENNETT]
The Movement (Hatnuah) [Tzipora “Tzipi” LIVNI]
The New Movement-Meretz [Haim ORON]
United Arab List-Ta’al [Ibrahim SARSUR]
United Torah Judaism or UTJ [Yaakov LITZMAN] (a conglomerate of three parties)
Yesh Atid [Yair LAPID]
Yisrael Beiteinu or YB [Avigdor LIEBERMAN]

Political pressure groups and leaders:
B’Tselem [Jessica MONTELL, Executive Director] monitors human rights abuses
Peace Now [Yariv OPPENHEIMER, Secretary General] supports territorial concessions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip
YESHA Council [Danny DAYAN, Chairman] promotes settler interests and opposes territorial compromise
Breaking the Silence [Yehuda SHAUL, Executive Director] collects testimonies from soldiers who served in the West Bank and Gaza Strip

International organization participation:

BIS, BSEC (observer), CE (observer), CICA, EBRD, FAO, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW (signatory), OSCE (partner), Pacific Alliance (observer), Paris Club (associate), PCA, SELEC (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ron DERMER (since 3 December 2013)
chancery: 3514 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 364-5500
FAX: [1] (202) 364-5647
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Daniel B. SHAPIRO (since 8 July 2011)
embassy: 71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv 63903
telephone: [972] (3) 519-7475
FAX: [972] (3) 516-4390
consulate(s) general: Jerusalem; note – an independent US mission, established in 1928, whose members are not accredited to a foreign government

Flag description:
white with a blue hexagram (six-pointed linear star) known as the Magen David (Star of David or Shield of David) centered between two equal horizontal blue bands near the top and bottom edges of the flag; the basic design resembles a traditional Jewish prayer shawl (tallit), which is white with blue stripes; the hexagram as a Jewish symbol dates back to medieval times

National symbol(s):
Star of David (Magen David)

National anthem:
name: “Hatikvah” (The Hope)


Economy

Economy – overview:
Israel has a technologically advanced market economy. Cut diamonds, high-technology equipment, and pharmaceuticals are among the leading exports. Its major imports include crude oil, grains, raw materials, and military equipment. Israel usually posts sizable trade deficits, which are covered by tourism and other service exports, as well as significant foreign investment inflows. Between 2004 and 2011, growth averaged nearly 5% per year, led by exports. The global financial crisis of 2008-09 spurred a brief recession in Israel, but the country entered the crisis with solid fundamentals, following years of prudent fiscal policy and a resilient banking sector. In 2010, Israel formally acceded to the OECD. Israel’s economy also has weathered the Arab Spring because strong trade ties outside the Middle East have insulated the economy from spillover effects. The economy has recovered better than most advanced, comparably sized economies, but slowing demand domestically and internationally, and a strong shekel, have reduced forecasts for the next decade to the 3% level. Natural gas fields discovered off Israel’s coast since 2009 have brightened Israel’s energy security outlook. The Tamar and Leviathan fields were some of the world’s largest offshore natural gas finds this past decade. The massive Leviathan field is not due to come online until 2018, but production from Tamar provided a one percentage point boost to Israel’s GDP in 2013 and is expected to contribute 0.5% growth in 2014. In mid-2011, public protests arose around income inequality and rising housing and commodity prices. Israel’s income inequality and poverty rates are among the highest of OECD countries and there is a broad perception among the public that a small number of “tycoons” have a cartel-like grip over the major parts of the economy. The government formed committees to address some of the grievances but has maintained that it will not engage in deficit spending to satisfy populist demands. In May 2013 the Israeli government, in a politically difficult process, passed an austerity budget to reign in the deficit and restore confidence in the government’s fiscal position. Over the long term, Israel faces structural issues, including low labor participation rates for its fastest growing social segments – the ultra-orthodox and Arab-Israeli communities. Also, Israel’s progressive, globally competitive, knowledge-based technology sector employs only 9% of the workforce, with the rest employed in manufacturing and services – sectors which face downward wage pressures from global competition.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$273.2 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 49
$264.5 billion (2012 est.)
$255.9 billion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$272.7 billion (2013 est.)

GDP – real growth rate
3.3% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 104
3.4% (2012 est.)
4.6% (2011 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP):
$36,200 (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 37
$34,300 (2012 est.)
$34,000 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars

Gross national saving:
22.2% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 67
21% of GDP (2012 est.)
21.4% of GDP (2011 est.)

GDP – composition, by end use:
household consumption: 56.1%
government consumption: 22.7%
investment in fixed capital: 19.6%
investment in inventories: 0.7%
exports of goods and services: 34.4%
imports of goods and services: -33.5%
(2013 est.)

GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 2.4%
industry: 31.2%
services: 66.4% (2013 est.)

Agriculture – products:
citrus, vegetables, cotton; beef, poultry, dairy products

Industries:
high-technology products (including aviation, communications, computer-aided design and manufactures, medical electronics, fiber optics), wood and paper products, potash and phosphates, food, beverages, and tobacco, caustic soda, cement, construction, metals products, chemical products, plastics, cut diamonds, textiles, footwear

Industrial production growth rate:
5.5% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 52

Labor force:
3.493 million (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 97

Labor force – by occupation:
agriculture: 1.6%
industry: 18.1%
services: 80.3% (2012 est.)

Unemployment rate:
5.8% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 56
6.8% (2012 est.)

Population below poverty line:
21%
note: Israel’s poverty line is $7.30 per person per day (2012)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.5%
highest 10%: 24.3% (2008)

Distribution of family income – Gini index:
37.6 (2012)
country comparison to the world: 75
39.2 (2008)

Budget:
revenues: $109.7 billion
expenditures: $113.9 billion (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues:
40.2% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
-1.5% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 72

Public debt:
67.1% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 41
66.9% of GDP (2012 est.)

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.7% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 55
1.7% (2012 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
1% (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117
1.75% (31 December 2012 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
3.8% (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 151
5.16% (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of narrow money:
$37.09 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 55
$32.48 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of broad money:
$151.2 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 46
$136.2 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$207.7 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40
$192.3 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$148.4 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 32
$145 billion (31 December 2011)
$218.1 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance:
$5.259 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30
$609 million (2012 est.)

Exports:
$60.67 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 55
$62.32 billion (2012 est.)

Exports – commodities:
machinery and equipment, software, cut diamonds, agricultural products, chemicals, textiles and apparel

Exports – partners:
US 27.8%, Hong Kong 7.7%, UK 5.7%, Belgium 4.6%, China 4.3% (2012)

Imports:
$67.03 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 44
$71.67 billion (2012 est.)

Imports – commodities:
raw materials, military equipment, investment goods, rough diamonds, fuels, grain, consumer goods

Imports – partners:
US 12.9%, China 7.3%, Germany 6.3%, Switzerland 5.5%, Belgium 4.8% (2012)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$80.74 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 28
$75.91 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Debt – external:
$96.3 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 49
$93.98 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment – at home:
$86.04 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43
$75.94 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad:
$80.85 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 31
$74.75 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Exchange rates:
new Israeli shekels (ILS) per US dollar –
3.621 (2013 est.)
3.8559 (2012 est.)
3.739 (2010 est.)
3.93 (2009)
3.588 (2008)


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