Israel

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State Israel

Israel, officially known as the State of Israel, is a nation situated in the Southern Levant region of West Asia. It shares its northern borders with Lebanon and Syria, its eastern borders with the West Bank and Jordan, and its southern borders with Egypt, the Gaza Strip, and the Red Sea. To the west, it is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea. Tel Aviv serves as Israel’s financial, economic, and technological hub, while the seat of government is in Jerusalem, a city with limited international recognition as Israel’s capital, especially concerning East Jerusalem.

Israel within internationally recognized borders is shown in dark green; Israeli-occupied territories are shown in light green

Historically, the area now known as Israel has been referred to as Canaan, Palestine, and the Holy Land. In ancient times, it hosted Canaanite city-states followed by the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Jewish tradition refers to it as the Land of Israel. The region’s strategic location at a continental crossroads made it a target for various empires throughout history. In the late 19th century, the rise of Zionism, a movement advocating for a Jewish homeland, emerged in response to European antisemitism. The British occupation of the area led to the creation of Mandatory Palestine in 1920, and Jewish immigration combined with British colonial policies sparked intercommunal conflicts between Jews and Arabs. The UN’s 1947 Partition Plan further escalated tensions, leading to civil war.

On May 14, 1948, the State of Israel declared its independence. The following day, neighboring Arab states launched an invasion, marking the beginning of the First Arab–Israeli War. This conflict resulted in a significant number of Palestinians being displaced. Over subsequent decades, Israel saw a large influx of Jewish immigrants, many of whom fled or were expelled from Muslim-majority countries. The 1949 Armistice Agreements delineated Israel’s borders, encompassing most of the former Mandate territory. The Six-Day War in 1967 resulted in Israel occupying the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula, and Golan Heights. Israel has since established settlements in these occupied territories, actions deemed illegal under international law, and has annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, though these moves lack broad international recognition. Despite signing peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and normalizing relations with several Arab countries in the 2020s, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict remains unresolved. Israel faces international criticism over its occupation of Palestinian territories and accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity by various human rights organizations and UN officials.

Israel operates a parliamentary system with proportional representation. The prime minister, elected by the Knesset (Israel’s unicameral legislature), serves as the head of government. Economically, Israel boasts one of the largest and wealthiest economies in the Middle East and Asia and has been an OECD member since 2010. The country enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the region and is recognized as one of the most advanced nations globally.

Etymology

The Merneptah Stele, dating back to the 13th century BCE, contains what is widely regarded by biblical archaeologists as the earliest known reference to the name Israel, marked by a set of hieroglyphs. During the British Mandate from 1920 to 1948, the entire region was referred to as Palestine. Upon its establishment in 1948, the new country officially adopted the name State of Israel (Hebrew: מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, Medīnat Yisrā’el; Arabic: دَوْلَة إِسْرَائِيل, Dawlat Isrāʼīl). This name was chosen over other suggestions such as Land of Israel (Eretz Israel), Ever (from ancestor Eber), Zion, and Judea. The name Israel was proposed by David Ben-Gurion and was approved by a vote of 6-3. Shortly after the state’s formation, the government decided to use the term Israeli to describe a citizen of Israel.

Historically, the terms Land of Israel and Children of Israel have been used to refer to the biblical Kingdom of Israel and the Jewish people as a whole. The name Israel (Hebrew: Yīsrāʾēl; Septuagint Greek: Ἰσραήλ, Israēl) is often translated as “El (God) persists/rules.” However, after the biblical account in Hosea 12:4, it is frequently interpreted to mean “struggle with God,” a reference to the patriarch Jacob who, according to the Hebrew Bible, was renamed Israel after wrestling with an angel of the Lord. The Merneptah Stele of ancient Egypt, dating to the late 13th century BCE, is the earliest archaeological artifact mentioning Israel as a collective entity.

History

Prehistory

Evidence of early hominin presence in the Levant, where Israel is located, dates back at least 1.5 million years, as indicated by findings at the Ubeidiya prehistoric site. The Skhul and Qafzeh hominins, who lived around 120,000 years ago, represent some of the earliest anatomically modern humans outside of Africa. By the 10th millennium BCE, the Natufian culture had emerged in the region, followed by the Ghassulian culture around 4500 BCE.

Bronze and Iron Ages

The earliest references to “Canaanites” and “Canaan” appear in Near Eastern and Egyptian texts around 2000 BCE, describing populations organized into politically independent city-states. During the Late Bronze Age (1550–1200 BCE), much of Canaan was made up of vassal states under the New Kingdom of Egypt. However, the Late Bronze Age collapse led to chaos in Canaan and the end of Egyptian control over the region.

The first known mention of Israel comes from the Merneptah Stele, an ancient Egyptian inscription dating to about 1200 BCE. The ancestors of the Israelites are believed to have included ancient Semitic-speaking peoples native to this area. Modern archaeological findings suggest that the Israelites and their culture developed from the Canaanite peoples, evolving a distinct monolatristic—and later monotheistic—religion centered on Yahweh. They spoke an early form of Hebrew, known as Biblical Hebrew. Around this period, the Philistines settled on the southern coastal plain.

Modern archaeology has largely abandoned the historical accuracy of the narrative in the Torah, viewing it instead as the Israelites’ national myth. However, some traditions do have historical roots. There is ongoing debate about the early existence and extent of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. While the existence of a united Kingdom of Israel is uncertain, historians and archaeologists agree that the northern Kingdom of Israel existed by around 900 BCE and the Kingdom of Judah by around 850 BCE. The Kingdom of Israel, with its capital at Samaria, was the more prosperous of the two and became a regional power during the Omride dynasty, controlling areas including Samaria, Galilee, the upper Jordan Valley, the Sharon, and large parts of the Transjordan.

The Kingdom of Israel was conquered around 720 BCE by the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The Kingdom of Judah, with its capital in Jerusalem, later became a client state first of the Neo-Assyrian Empire and then the Neo-Babylonian Empire. It is estimated that the population of the region was around 400,000 during the Iron Age II. In 587/6 BCE, following a revolt in Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar II besieged and destroyed Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple, dissolved the kingdom, and exiled much of the Judean elite to Babylon. After capturing Babylon in 539 BCE, Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Empire, issued a proclamation allowing the exiled Judean population to return to Judah.

Classical Antiquity

The Merneptah Stele (13th century BCE). The majority of biblical archeologists translate a set of hieroglyphs as Israel, the first instance of the name in the record.

The construction of the Second Temple was completed around 520 BCE under the Achaemenid Empire, which governed the region as the province of Yehud Medinata. In 332 BCE, Alexander the Great of Macedon conquered the area during his campaign against the Achaemenid Empire. Following his death, the region came under the control of the Ptolemaic and Seleucid empires as part of Coele-Syria. Over the centuries, Hellenization led to cultural tensions, culminating during the reign of Antiochus IV and sparking the Maccabean Revolt of 167 BCE. This unrest weakened Seleucid rule, and by the late 2nd century, the semi-autonomous Hasmonean Kingdom of Judea emerged, eventually achieving full independence and expanding into neighboring territories.

In 63 BCE, the Roman Republic invaded the region, initially taking control of Syria and intervening in the Hasmonean Civil War. Conflicts between pro-Roman and pro-Parthian factions in Judea led to Herod the Great being installed as a dynastic vassal of Rome. By 6 CE, the area was annexed as the Roman province of Judaea. Tensions with Roman rule escalated, leading to a series of Jewish–Roman wars. The First Jewish–Roman War (66–73 CE) resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple, with a significant portion of the population killed or displaced.

A second uprising, the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132–136 CE), initially allowed the Jews to establish an independent state. However, the Romans brutally suppressed the rebellion, devastating and depopulating Judea’s countryside. Jerusalem was rebuilt as the Roman colony Aelia Capitolina, and the province of Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina. Jews were expelled from the districts surrounding Jerusalem, although a small Jewish presence persisted, with Galilee becoming the religious center.

Late Antiquity and the Medieval Period

Masada fortress, the location of a 1st-century Roman siege

Under Byzantine rule beginning with Emperor Constantine, Early Christianity began to replace the more tolerant Roman Paganism. A series of discriminatory laws against Jews and Judaism were enacted, leading to persecution by both the church and state authorities. Many Jews emigrated to flourishing Diaspora communities, while local Christian immigration and conversions increased. By the middle of the 5th century, the region had a Christian majority. Towards the end of the 5th century, a series of Samaritan revolts occurred, continuing until the late 6th century and significantly reducing the Samaritan population. After the Sasanian conquest of Jerusalem and a brief Jewish revolt against Byzantine Emperor Heraclius in 614 CE, the Byzantine Empire reconsolidated control of the area in 628.

Between 634 and 641 CE, the Rashidun Caliphate conquered the Levant. Over the next six centuries, control of the region shifted between the Umayyad, Abbasid, and Fatimid caliphates, followed by the Seljuks and Ayyubid dynasties. The population drastically decreased from an estimated 1 million during the Roman and Byzantine periods to about 300,000 by the early Ottoman period, alongside a steady process of Arabization and Islamization. The end of the 11th century saw the onset of the Crusades, with Christian crusaders, sanctioned by the Pope, attempting to seize Jerusalem and the Holy Land from Muslim control, establishing Crusader states in the process. The Ayyubids eventually repelled the crusaders, and Muslim rule was fully restored by the Mamluk sultans of Egypt in 1291.

Modern Period and the Emergence of Zionism

3rd-century Kfar Bar’am synagogue in the Galilee

In 1516, the Ottoman Empire conquered the region, ruling it as part of Ottoman Syria. Two violent incidents against Jews occurred during this period: the 1517 Safed attacks and the 1517 Hebron attacks, following the Ottoman defeat of the Mamluks in the Ottoman–Mamluk War. Under Ottoman rule, the Levant was relatively cosmopolitan, allowing religious freedoms for Christians, Muslims, and Jews. In 1561, the Ottoman sultan invited Sephardi Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition to settle in and rebuild the city of Tiberias.

Under the Ottoman Empire’s millet system, Christians and Jews were considered dhimmi (“protected”) in exchange for loyalty to the state and payment of the jizya tax. Non-Muslim Ottoman subjects faced geographic and lifestyle restrictions, although these were not always strictly enforced. The millet system organized non-Muslims into autonomous communities based on religion.

Jews at the Western Wall in the 1870s

Since the dispersion of the Jewish people, many Jews have aspired to return to “Zion.” During Ottoman rule, the Jewish population in Palestine, known as the Old Yishuv, fluctuated and remained a minority. In the 16th century, Jewish communities established roots in the Four Holy Cities—Jerusalem, Tiberias, Hebron, and Safed. In 1697, Rabbi Yehuda Hachasid led a group of 1,500 Jews to Jerusalem. A 1660 Druze revolt against the Ottomans destroyed Safed and Tiberias. In the latter half of the 18th century, Eastern European Jews opposed to Hasidism, known as the Perushim, settled in Palestine.

In the late 18th century, local Arab Sheikh Zahir al-Umar created a de facto independent emirate in the Galilee, which the Ottomans eventually subdued after his death. In 1799, Governor Jazzar Pasha repelled Napoleon’s assault on Acre, leading the French to abandon their Syrian campaign. In 1834, Palestinian Arab peasants revolted against Egyptian conscription and taxation policies under Muhammad Ali. The revolt was suppressed, and Ottoman rule was restored with British support in 1840, followed by the implementation of Tanzimat reforms across the Ottoman Empire.

The First Zionist Congress (1897) in Basel, Switzerland
THEODOR HERZL AT THE FIRST ZIONIST CONGRESS IN BASEL ON 25.8.1897.

úàåãåø äøöì á÷åðâøñ äöéåðé äøàùåï – 1897.8.25

The First Aliyah (1881–1903) marked the beginning of modern Jewish migration to Ottoman-ruled Palestine, as Jews fled pogroms in Eastern Europe. The 1882 May Laws further increased economic discrimination against Jews and restricted where they could live. In response, political Zionism emerged, aiming to establish a Jewish state in the Land of Israel as a solution to the Jewish question in Europe.

The Second Aliyah (1904–1914) began after the Kishinev pogrom, with around 40,000 Jews settling in Palestine, though nearly half eventually left. These early waves of migrants were predominantly Orthodox Jews. The Second Aliyah also included Zionist socialist groups, which established the kibbutz movement based on Jewish labor. The new Yishuv’s nationalist ideology often clashed with the Arab population. Despite their focus on communal agricultural settlements, the Second Aliyah also saw the founding of Tel Aviv as the first planned Jewish town in 1909. Jewish armed militias, starting with Bar-Giora in 1907 and later the larger Hashomer organization in 1909, emerged during this period.

British Mandate for Palestine

Chaim Weizmann’s efforts to gain British support for the Zionist movement led to the Balfour Declaration (1917), stating Britain’s support for a Jewish “national home” in Palestine. Weizmann interpreted this as a mandate for direct negotiations between Britain and the Jews, excluding Arabs. Jewish-Arab relations in Palestine deteriorated in the ensuing years.

In 1918, the Jewish Legion, primarily Zionist volunteers, assisted in the British conquest of Palestine. In 1920, the territory was divided between Britain and France under the mandate system, with the British-administered area becoming Mandatory Palestine. Arab opposition to British rule and Jewish immigration led to the 1920 Palestine riots and the formation of the Jewish militia Haganah, an outgrowth of Hashomer, from which the Irgun and Lehi paramilitaries later split. In 1922, the League of Nations granted Britain the Mandate for Palestine, including the Balfour Declaration’s promise to the Jews and similar provisions for the Arab Palestinians. The population was predominantly Arab and Muslim, with Jews making up about 11% and Arab Christians about 9.5%.

“Jews and Arabs in Grim Struggle for Holy Land”, article from 1938

The Third (1919–1923) and Fourth Aliyahs (1924–1929) brought an additional 100,000 Jews to Palestine. The rise of Nazism and increasing persecution of Jews in 1930s Europe led to the Fifth Aliyah, with a quarter-million Jews immigrating. This influx contributed to the Arab revolt of 1936–1939, which was suppressed by British security forces and Zionist militias. Several hundred British security personnel and Jews were killed, along with 5,032 Arabs, with many more wounded or detained.

The British introduced restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine with the White Paper of 1939. With countries worldwide turning away Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust, a clandestine movement known as Aliyah Bet was organized to bring Jews to Palestine. By the end of World War II, Jews comprised 31% of Palestine’s population. Facing a Jewish insurgency over immigration restrictions and ongoing conflict with the Arab community, the Haganah joined Irgun and Lehi in an armed struggle against British rule. The Haganah’s Aliyah Bet program attempted to bring tens of thousands of Jewish refugees and Holocaust survivors to Palestine by ship, but most were intercepted by the Royal Navy and detained in camps in Atlit and Cyprus.

UN Map, “Palestine plan of partition with economic union”

On 22 July 1946, Irgun bombed the British administrative headquarters in Palestine, killing 91 people. This attack was in response to Operation Agatha, a series of British raids. The Jewish insurgency continued through 1946 and 1947, despite British efforts to suppress it. Attempts at negotiation between British, Jewish, and Arab representatives failed, as the Jews insisted on a Jewish state and partition, while the Arabs rejected any plan for a Jewish state and demanded a unified Palestine under Arab rule. In February 1947, Britain referred the Palestine issue to the United Nations, which proposed partitioning Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem under international control.

On 29 November 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 181, proposing a partition plan. The Jewish Agency accepted the plan, which allocated 55–56% of Mandatory Palestine to the Jews, who comprised about a third of the population and owned 6–7% of the land. The Arab League and Arab Higher Committee rejected the plan. Riots broke out in Jerusalem, escalating into civil war. The British announced the end of their mandate on 15 May 1948, planning to evacuate the region. As Arab militias attacked Jewish areas, the Haganah took the offensive, and by April 1948, 250,000 Palestinian Arabs had fled or been expelled for various reasons.

State of Israel: Establishment and Early Years

Here’s the completed article on the “State of Israel: Establishment and early years”:


David Ben-Gurion declaring the establishment of Israel on 14 May 1948

DAVID BEN GURION READING THE DECLARATION OF THE INDEPENDENCE OF ISRAEL IN THE MUSEUM IN TEL AVIV.

äëøæú äòöîàåú ùì îãéðú éùøàì, áîåæàåï úì àáéá áùã’ øåèùéìã. øàù äîîùìä ãåã áï âåøéåï ÷åøà àú îâéìú òöîàåú éùøàì, áéåí äëøæú äîãéðä.

On 14 May 1948, the day before the expiration of the British Mandate, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, declared “the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel”. The only reference in the text of the Declaration to the borders of the new state is the use of the term Eretz-Israel (“Land of Israel”). The following day, the armies of four Arab countries—Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, and Iraq—entered what had been Mandatory Palestine, launching the 1948 Arab–Israeli War; contingents from Yemen, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan joined the war. The apparent purpose of the invasion was to prevent the establishment of the Jewish state; some Arab leaders talked about “driving the Jews into the sea”. The Arab League stated the invasion was to restore order and prevent further bloodshed.

After a year of fighting, a ceasefire was declared, and temporary borders, known as the Green Line, were established. Jordan annexed what became known as the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip. Over 700,000 Palestinians were expelled by or fled from Zionist militias and the Israeli military—what would become known in Arabic as the Nakba (“catastrophe”). The events also led to the destruction of most of Palestine’s predominantly Arab population’s society, culture, identity, political rights, and national aspirations. Some 156,000 remained and became Arab citizens of Israel.

Raising of the Ink Flag on 10 March 1949, marking the end of the 1948 war

THE INK DRAWN NATIONAL FLAG OF ISRAEL FLYING AT UM RASHRASH (EILAT) ACRoSS THE GULF OF AKABA ON THE NORTHERN TIP OF THE RED SEA.

äðôú ãâì äãéå áàåí øùøù, àéìú. áöéìåí, äçééì àáøäí àãï (áøï) îèôñ òì òîåã ëãé ìäðéó àú ãâì äãéå àùø àåìúø ò”é çééìé äçèéáä.

Israel was admitted as a member of the UN on 11 May 1949. In the early years of the state, the Labor Zionist movement led by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion dominated Israeli politics. Immigration to Israel during the late 1940s and early 1950s was aided by the Israeli Immigration Department and the non-government-sponsored Mossad LeAliyah Bet (lit. “Institute for Immigration B”). The latter engaged in clandestine operations in countries, particularly in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, where the lives of Jews were believed to be in danger and exit was difficult. Mossad LeAliyah Bet was disbanded in 1953. The immigration was part of the One Million Plan. Some immigrants held Zionist beliefs or came for the promise of a better life, while others moved to escape persecution or were expelled.

An influx of Holocaust survivors and Jews from Arab and Muslim countries to Israel during the first three years increased the number of Jews from 700,000 to 1,400,000. By 1958, the population had risen to two million. Between 1948 and 1970, approximately 1,150,000 Jewish refugees relocated to Israel. Some new immigrants arrived as refugees and were housed in temporary camps known as Ma’abarot; by 1952, over 200,000 people were living in these tent cities. Jews of European background were often treated more favorably than Jews from Middle Eastern and North African countries—housing units reserved for the latter were often re-designated for the former, so Jews newly arrived from Arab lands generally ended up staying longer in transit camps. During this period, food, clothes, and furniture were rationed in what became known as the austerity period. The need to solve the crisis led Ben-Gurion to sign a reparations agreement with West Germany that triggered mass protests by Jews angered at the idea that Israel could accept monetary compensation for the Holocaust.

Arab–Israeli Conflict

U.S. newsreel on the trial of Adolf Eichmann

During the 1950s, Israel was frequently attacked by Palestinian fedayeen, nearly always against civilians, mainly from the Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip, leading to several Israeli reprisal operations. In 1956, the UK and France aimed at regaining control of the Suez Canal, which Egypt had nationalized. The continued blockade of the Suez Canal and Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, together with increasing Fedayeen attacks against Israel’s southern population and recent Arab threatening statements, prompted Israel to attack Egypt. Israel joined a secret alliance with the UK and France and overran the Sinai Peninsula in the Suez Crisis but was pressured to withdraw by the UN in return for guarantees of Israeli shipping rights. The war resulted in a significant reduction of Israeli border infiltration.

Territory held by Israel:  before the Six-Day War
  after the war
The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt in 1982.

In the early 1960s, Israel captured Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Argentina and brought him to Israel for trial. Eichmann remains the only person executed in Israel by conviction in an Israeli civilian court. In 1963, Israel was engaged in a diplomatic standoff with the United States due to the Israeli nuclear program.

Since 1964, Arab countries, concerned over Israeli plans to divert waters of the Jordan River into the coastal plain, had been trying to divert the headwaters to deprive Israel of water resources, provoking tensions between Israel on the one hand, and Syria and Lebanon on the other. Arab nationalists led by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser refused to recognize Israel and called for its destruction. By 1966, Israeli-Arab relations had deteriorated to the point of battles taking place between Israeli and Arab forces.

In May 1967, Egypt massed its army near the border with Israel, expelled UN peacekeepers stationed in the Sinai Peninsula since 1957, and blocked Israel’s access to the Red Sea. Other Arab states mobilized their forces. Israel reiterated that these actions were a casus belli and launched a pre-emptive strike against Egypt in June. Jordan, Syria, and Iraq attacked Israel. In the Six-Day War, Israel captured and occupied the West Bank from Jordan, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria. Jerusalem’s boundaries were enlarged, incorporating East Jerusalem. The 1949 Green Line became the administrative boundary between Israel and the occupied territories.

Following the 1967 war and the “Three Nos” resolution of the Arab League, Israel faced attacks from the Egyptians in the Sinai Peninsula during the 1967–1970 War of Attrition, and from Palestinian groups targeting Israelis in the occupied territories, globally, and in Israel. Most important among the Palestinian and Arab groups was the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), established in 1964, which initially committed itself to “armed struggle as the only way to liberate the homeland”. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Palestinian groups launched attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets around the world, including a massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. The Israeli government responded with an assassination campaign against the organizers of the massacre, a bombing, and a raid on the PLO headquarters in Lebanon.

On 6 October 1973, the Egyptian and Syrian armies launched a surprise attack against Israeli forces in the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights, opening the Yom Kippur War. The war ended on 25 October with Israel repelling Egyptian and Syrian forces but suffering great losses. An internal inquiry exonerated the government of responsibility for failures before and during the war, but public anger forced Prime Minister Golda Meir to resign. In July 1976, an airliner was hijacked on a flight from Israel to France by Palestinian guerrillas; Israeli commandos rescued 102 out of 106 Israeli hostages.

Peace Process

The 1977 Knesset elections marked a major turning point in Israeli political history as Menachem Begin’s Likud party took control from the Labor Party. Later that year, Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat made a trip to Israel and spoke before the Knesset in what was the first recognition of Israel by an Arab head of state. Sadat and Begin signed the Camp David Accords (1978) and the Egypt–Israel peace treaty (1979). In return, Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula and agreed to enter negotiations over autonomy for Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

On 11 March 1978, a PLO guerrilla raid from Lebanon led to the Coastal Road massacre. Israel responded by launching an invasion of southern Lebanon to destroy PLO bases. Most PLO fighters withdrew, but Israel was able to secure southern Lebanon until a UN force and the Lebanese army could take over. The PLO soon resumed its insurgency against Israel, and Israel carried out numerous retaliatory attacks.

Shimon Peres (left) with Yitzhak Rabin (center) and King Hussein of Jordan (right), prior to signing the Israel–Jordan peace treaty in 1994

FOREIGN MIN. SHIMON PERES AND KING HUSSEIN GREET EACH OTHER AT THE ARAVA BORDER TERMINAL PRIOR TO THE SIGNING OF THE PEACE TREATY BETWEEN THEIR COUNTRIES.

îùîàì ùø äçåõ ùîòåï ôøñ ìåçõ éãå ùì çåñééï îìê éøãï áäâéòå ìè÷ñ çúéîú çåæä äùìåí áéï éùøàì ìéøãï áîñåó äòøáä ìéã àéìú åò÷áä.

Meanwhile, Begin’s government provided incentives for Israelis to settle in the occupied West Bank, increasing friction with the Palestinians there. The Jerusalem Law (1980) was believed by some to reaffirm Israel’s 1967 annexation of Jerusalem by government decree and reignited international controversy over the status of the city. No Israeli legislation has defined the territory of Israel, and no act specifically included East Jerusalem therein. In 1981, Israel effectively annexed the Golan Heights. The international community largely rejected these moves, with the UN Security Council declaring both the Jerusalem Law and the Golan Heights Law null and void. Several waves of Ethiopian Jews immigrated to Israel since the 1980s, while between 1990 and 1994, immigration from the post-Soviet states increased Israel’s population by twelve percent.

On 7 June 1981, during the Iran–Iraq War, the Israeli air force destroyed Iraq’s sole nuclear reactor, then under construction, to impede the Iraqi nuclear weapons program. Following a series of PLO attacks in 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon to destroy the PLO bases. In the first six days, the Israelis destroyed the military forces of the PLO in Lebanon and decisively defeated the Syrians. An Israeli government inquiry (the Kahan Commission) held Begin and several Israeli generals indirectly responsible for the Sabra and Shatila massacre and held Defense Minister Ariel Sharon as bearing “personal responsibility”. Sharon was forced to resign. In 1985, Israel responded to a Palestinian terrorist attack in Cyprus by bombing the PLO headquarters in Tunisia. Israel withdrew from most of Lebanon in 1986 but maintained a borderland buffer zone in southern Lebanon

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