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The Home of Academic Studies on Israel

ISRAEL OVERVIEW [+ / -]

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FACT SHEETS [+ / -]

On Israel

Israel at 65: Statistical Glimpse

Israel stands at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa. Geographically, it belongs to the Asian continent. Its western border is the Mediterranean Sea; to the north it is bound by Lebanon and Syria; to the east by Jordan; and, to the south by the Red Sea and Egypt. Long and narrow in shape, Israel is about 290 miles (470 km) long and 85 miles (135 km) acorss at its widest point. Its total area is 22,072 sq km, of which 21,643 sq km is land area (Sea of Galilee: 164 sq km; Dead Sea: 265 sq km). Israel’s total land border measures 857 km, its Mediterranean coastline 194 km, and 12 km on the Red Sea. [Last Update: April 2012]

The 1949 Armistice: The "Green Line"

After armistice with the Arabs ended the 1948 War of Independence, Israel sought peace with its neighbors for nearly the entire next two decades before being forced again to defend itself against Arab aggression in 1967. Upon defeating the invading Arab armies in just six days, Israelis thought the Arab leaders would realize they could not defeat Israel militarily and would instead choose the path of peace. Instead, the Arab League declared following the war: "no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it." Israel would not have captured the West Bank or reunified Jerusalem if King Hussein of Jordan had heeded the warning of Prime Minister Eshkol to stay out of the war. Instead, the Jordanian army was ordered to attack and, in the course of defending itself, Israel eventually took control of these territories. [Last Update: May 2011]

Jewish Settlements in the West Bank

Jewish settlements in the West Bank have drawn serious ire from the international community for their supposed illegality and, even worse, their purported impedent to advancing the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. While Israeli's debate vociferously the logic behind establishing communities in territory that may one day be ceded for the creation of a Palestinian state, the settlements merit is unquestionable - the right of Jews to live in the West Bank is clear and legal. [Last Update: March 2011]

Israel's Liberal Democracy

In a region of autocracies and theocracies, Israel shines as a beacon of freedom and hope in the Middle East. Its diverse culture, open society and guaranteed civil and political liberties for all citizens, regardless of race, religion, gender or creed, follows closely to Western democratic tradition. It's liberal democracy, in fact, is the main reason that Israel has been able to have remarkable economic development despite being in a neighborhood surrounded by uncompromising enemeies. [Last Update: September 2012]

Israel's Security Fence

Along much of the frontier separating Israel from the West Bank, there are either no barriers of any kind, or easily avoidable ones. In response to dozens of suicide bombings, and daily terrorist attacks against its civilians, Israel decided to construct a security fence near the 'Green Line' to prevent Palestinian terrorists from infiltrating into Israel. Israel did not want to build a fence, and resisted doing so for more than 35 years. If anyone is to blame for the construction, it is Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the other Palestinian terrorists. [Last Update: July 2010]

On the Palestinians

Unilateral Declaration of Independence

In an effort to bypass peace negotiations with Israel, the Palestinian Authority has threatened to seek a vote in the next session of the UN General Assembly (September 2011) to ratify their unilateral declaration of independence for Palestine (UDI). The UDI requests that a State of Palestine be internationally recognized by the United Nations on the 1967 borders with Israel - the so called “Green Line” - and that Palestine subsequently be admitted as a full member into the UN. According to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the move at the UN is designed to “secure the [Palestinian] right to live free … in our historic homeland” and to provide them with a better platform to "negotiate all core issues of the conflict." [Last Update: September 2011]

The "Right of Return"

In the media and in interviews with Palestinian leaders, we often hear and read statements asserting that the Palestinian Refugees have a right to return to Israel. As will be shown, these statements are based on an erroneous reading of the relevant texts. We will discuss the subject from three points of view: general international law, the most relevant UN resolutions, and various agreements between Israel and her neighbors.

The Palestinian Refugees

The story of the Palestinian refugees dates back a number of decades to the late 1940's and the establishment of the State of Israel. Despite the resettlement of millions of refugees around the world through the help of international organizations and welcoming countries, the Palestinian refugees remain in their state of squalor across the Middle East and, amazingly, their numbers only continue to grow. The Palestinian refugee problem certainly seems like one of the more intractable issues within the Israeli-Palestinain conflict. However, despite propoganda and all sorts of allegations and accusations, Israel is not the reason why there now number nearly 5 million Palestinian refugees.

Mahmoud Abbas: Obstacle to Peace

Israel, the United States and most of the international community were pleased when Mahmoud Abbas was elected in 2005 as President of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Expectations were high that Abbas would radically alter the policies of his predecessor, consolidate his power, reform the PA, and put an end to years of senseless violence that had claimed many innocent lives on both sides and had left Palestinians with a feeling of hopelessness. Abbas, however, has done little since then to deserve the faith the international community placed in him. [Last Update: February 2012]

The Hamas Terrorist Organization

Hamas is the Arabic acronym for "The Islamic Resistance Movement" (Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyya). It grew out of the ideology and practice of the Islamic fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood movement, was legally registered in Israel in 1978 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the movement's spiritual leader, and has since wreaked terror upon the State of Israel in its quest to annihilate the Jewish State. Since 2007, Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip. The goal of Hamas is clear. As stated in the organization’s covenant, the Islamic Resistance Movement “strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.” Its platform states that “there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad (holy war).” The group warns that any Muslim who leaves “the circle of struggle with Zionism” is guilty of “high treason.” No negotiations or compromises are possible. [Last Update: January 2011]

On the Middle East

The Threat from Iran

Iran is one of the foremost, self-proclaimed enemies of the West and one of the most serious threats to stability in the Middle East. The Iranian government’s extreme interpretation of Islamic law, and its anti-Western philosophy, inspires the rise of Islamic extremists across the world. Iran is also one of the principal state sponsors of terror, proudly delivering weapons to Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorists, and the regime also continues to provide safe haven for many international terrorists, including senior al-Qaeda leaders Yasin al-Suri, Saif al-Adel and Abu Muhammad al-Masri. Moreover, Iranian agents have acted to perpetrate anti-Western and anti-Israel terrorist attacks in more than 20 countries around the world over the past two years. [Last Update: February 2013]

The Failure of Iran Sanctions

More than four years have passed since Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi's December 2008 statement that “Iran will never suspend uranium enrichment.” His prediction now seems mostly accurate and, in fact, Iran has accelerated its enrichment activities, announcing in January 2013 the intention to install more sophisticated centrifuges in its Natanz plant to speed up the enrichment process. "We haven't really moved one inch toward addressing the issues," Mohamed ElBaradei, then director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency told the Los Angeles Times in 2010. In a 2012 interview with the Financial Times of Germany, Yukiya Amano, new director general of the IAEA, announced that "what we know [about Iran's nuclear program] suggests the development of nuclear weapons." [Last Update: March 2013]

Nuclear Proliferation in the Middle East

While the immediate focus of international attention has been on stopping Iran from obtaining the ability to build nuclear weapons, an equally worrisome development is that the Iranian drive to obtain a nuclear bomb has stimulated a regional race for nuclear technology to counter the perceived threat from a nuclear Iran. Like Iran, at least twelve other Middle Eastern countries have either announced plans to explore atomic energy or have signed nuclear cooperation agreements: Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, UAE, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Syria, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman (Two other counties - Yemen and Libya - cancelled their nuclear programs). Each of these countries, like Iran as well, have explicitly stated that they are only interested in peaceful uses of nuclear technology. The fear is now that these countries may follow the Iranian example and work toward building a nuclear bomb to protect themselves in any future nuclear arms race. [Last Update: January 2013]

The Arab Spring in Egypt

On January 25, 2011, Egyptian protestors rushed Tahrir square in Cairo to demand the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak and the implementation of a new, democratically-oriented government. On the morning of February 12, following more than two weeks of brutal government resistance, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced Mubarak’s resignation from the presidential post. Following Mubarak's ouster, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) took temporary control of governing Egypt's transition to democracy. In the months following its rise to power, the Council released numerous statements in which it assured the country and international community of its intention to suspend the four decades-old emergency laws, provide a safe transition to democracy through open elections, honor all regional and international obligations, and ensure that peace and security be maintained for all citizens of Egypt. It has been nearly a year and a half since the revolution began and Egypt has certainly undergone dramatic changes – for better and for worse. [Last Update: June 2012]

Christian Minorities in the Middle East

Christians comprise a little more than two percent of the population of Israel. Christians are free to practice their faith and have full and unfettered access to their holy sites. Christians, like Jews and Muslims, also have their own bodies to decide matters of personal status, such as marriage and divorce, and control their religious shrines. The treatment of Christians in the rest of the Middle East, however, is a completely different story. [Last Update: May 2010]

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US-ISRAEL RELATIONS [+ / -]

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