Israel

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ISRAEL

Israel has been a tourism destination for over two thousand years. Whether it's their first journey, or a return trip to a land that has become a second home, travelers continue to come, although visitor numbers are way down from what they were during the years of the Peace Process in the 1990s. Throughout the country, facilities at museums, national parks, nature reserves andholy sites were all been renovated and upgraded to accommodate the overflow of visitors. Israel has several nature zones: The north is quite green; the middle of the country is partly arid, while the south is desert. Geographically talking, Israel has approximately 7.1 million Inhabitants with a population growth rate of 1.5%, and a total area of 20,770 km². The highest point is Har Meron and thelowest the Dead Sea; the capital is Jerusalem (official), and Tel Aviv (internationally recognized). Between the mayor cities they have: Larger Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Larger Haifa, and Tel Aviv. Its Day of independence is May 14, 1948.

Looking at history, Israeli tribes had formed various kingdoms in the region several times, beginning as far back as Moses. Each of one was absorbed by strongerneighbors or invaders. Following World War II, the British withdrew from their mandate of Palestine, and the United Nations divided 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. In 1980, Knesset declares the united and complete Jerusalem ascapital of Israel. On 1982, Israel withdrew from the Sinai pursuant to the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. Outstanding territorial and other disputes with Jordan were resolved in the 1994 Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace. In addition, on 2000, Israel withdrew unilaterally from southern Lebanon, which it had occupied since 1982. In 2004, Israel starts building a wall between Jerusalem and the Palestiniandominated areas of West Bank, all on Palestinian territory; and Sharon's plan for complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip is ratified by Knesset.

Although Israel is one of the smallest countries in the Middle East, it is an independent republic divided into 6 districts. Israel is politically stable, but tensions are dividing the society. There is no single constitution of Israel, rather acollection of primary and secondary laws. Israel has three levels of political influence: The president (Moshe Katzav), the Prime Minister (Ariel Sharon), and the Knesset (120 members). The president has little power, but serves as a symbolic and moral centre. The prime minister has strengthened his powers since the system of direct elections have been in place. And the Knesset is unicameral, andhas 120 members. There are a large number of parties represented. With the new political system of Israel, the Knesset has less power than earlier, but retains direct control over a number of issues as well as budgetary matters. Israel is also the best working democracy in the Middle East. It continues to occupy three areas: Gaza Strip, West Bank and Golan Heights. In all these areas, extremistJews have established settlements under a claim that the land has been give to them by God. International support has been weakened, due to the brutal colonization of Palestinian territory.

Israel has by far the strongest and the most diversified economy in the entire Middle East, as it relies upon a larger scale of incomes than the rich oil producing countries. It also has the highestaverage living standards, but a large portion of the population, often Palestinians and immigrants are not benefiting from the wealth of Israel. The cost of living in Israel is high, and for many their wages never manage to cover more than just the basic costs. Much of the growth in Israeli economy comes from a politics that has allowed high deficits on state budgets and foreign trade balance. In...
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