1. Geography and History:
The State of Israel is located southeast of the Mediterranean Sea, in the historical and religious core land of the Jewish people (see timeline). Neighboring countries are Lebanon in the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan in the east and Egypt in the southwest. The Islamist terrorist organization Hamas controls Gaza in the southwest and the Palestinian Authority dominated by the PLO and Fatah controls parts of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) in the east.
The modern state of Israel was declared independent on May 14, 1948. Israel defines itself as Jewish and democratic. The Legislative Assembly is called the Knesset. Israel is the only free state governed by the rule of law and has the highest standard of living in the Middle East. The country is a member of the OECD and is among the world’s leading countries in life expectancy, innovation, high technology, medicine, etc.
2. The Israel-Palestine conflict:
Until the First World War, the lands that are today Israel, the West Bank and Gaza were controlled by the Ottoman Empire. Since then, Arabs and Jews have been in conflict over who should have sovereignty over the area, and how land and resources should be shared. The core issue in the Israel-Palestine conflict is whether the Palestinians will accept being a neighbor of a Jewish state.
Read more on the theme page Israel-Palestine conflict.
- Israel’s enemy
Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran has grown to become Israel’s most threatening enemy. Iran’s population is 9 times larger and Iran’s area is 75 times larger than Israel’s. Iran has allied terrorist groups close to Israel’s borders, most notably Hezbollah and Hamas.
3. Israeli settlements:
Israel’s settlements in the West Bank are illegal and a violation of international law, it is claimed. The settlements are also often portrayed as the biggest obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians. If international law is applied fairly, there is no basis for saying that the settlements are illegal. Facts show that the Israeli settlements are not the biggest obstacle to peace either. The Israeli residential and agricultural areas in the West Bank cover only 2.7 percent of the area. Read more on the theme page.
What you need to know about Israeli settlements.
Gaza War 2021
After a long period of relative calm, there was a sharp escalation in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians in the spring of 2021. In the run-up to Ramadan, the Palestinian Authority intensified its insurgency in the official media, and in April and early May there were increasingly violent episodes and terrorist attacks in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. On Monday, May 10, the Hamas regime plunged into conflict with rocket attacks on Jerusalem. Read more on the theme page about the war.
Palestine is a geographical indication of an area along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. Palestine is a name that has never existed in any state. Palestinian authorities do not meet the requirements of a state under international law, and a unilateral Norwegian recognition of the “state of Palestine” will undermine international law and the Oslo Accords.
The people of Israel:
Israel’s population is about 9.4 million (2021). About 74 percent are Jews, 18 percent Muslims, 2 percent Christians and 1.6 percent Druze. 4.4 percent are classified as others. These are often people who identify with the Jewish majority population, but who for various reasons are not registered as Jews in the population register.