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Israel

 
 

Israel Main Page

 

Government ::Israel

Israel operates under a parliamentary system as a democratic republic with universal suffrage.The President of Israel is the head of state, but his duties are limited and largely ceremonial. Parliament Member supported by a majority in parliament becomes the Prime Minister, usually the chairman of the largest party. The Prime Minister is the head of government and head of the Cabinet. Israel is governed by a 120-member parliament, known as the Knesset. Membership of the Knesset is based on proportional representation of political parties, with a 2% electoral threshold, which commonly results in coalition governments.

Parliamentary elections are scheduled every four years, but unstable coalitions or a no-confidence vote by the Knesset often dissolves governments earlier. "The average life span of an Israeli government is 22 months. The peace process, the role of religion in the state, and political scandals have caused coalitions to break apart or produced early elections." The Basic Laws of Israel function as an uncodified constitution. In 2003, the Knesset began to draft an official constitution based on these laws.

Legal system

The Israeli Supreme Court, Givat Ram, Jerusalem.

Israel has a three-tier court system. At the lowest level are magistrate courts, situated in most cities across the country. Above them are district courts, serving both as appellate courts and courts of first instance; they are situated in five of Israel's six districts. The third and highest tier in Israel is the Supreme Court, seated in Jerusalem. It serves a dual role as the highest court of appeals and the High Court of Justice. In the latter role, the Supreme Court rules as a court of first instance, allowing individuals, both citizens and non-citizens, to petition against decisions of state authorities. Although Israel supports the goals of the International Criminal Court, it has not ratified the Rome Statute, citing concerns about the ability of the court to remain free from political impartiality.

In addition to the three-tier court system described above (also known as the "General Court system") Israel has also a system of specialized Labour Courts, similar to those found in Continental Europe. The Labour Courts have unique jurisdiction over labour matters (both on the individual and collective spheres) as well as social welfare matters (e.g. law suits related to pensions, social security benefits, healthcare, etc.). Each one of the five judicial districts has one Regional Labour Court which serves as a first instance court for those matters described above.

Most matters in Labour Courts are adjudicated by a three-panel consisting of one professional judge, and two lay representatives nominated to the court with the consent of the largest employees and employers unions (one representative termed as "Employees Representative" and the other as "Employers Representative"). Some matters (e.g. criminal cases related to labour law) are adjudicated by a professional judge only. The National Labour Court, situated in Jerusalem, serves as an appeal court as well as a first-instance court for matters with national importance (e.g. collective bargaining disputes, on a national level, between employees and employers unions).

Israel's legal system combines English common law, civil law, and Jewish law. It is based on the principle of stare decisis (precedent) and is an adversarial system, where the parties in the suit bring evidence before the court. Court cases are decided by professional judges rather than juries. Marriage and divorce are under the jurisdiction of the religious courts: Jewish, Muslim, Druze, and Christian. A committee of Knesset members, Supreme Court justices, and Israeli Bar members carries out the election of judges. Administration of Israel's courts (both the "General" courts and the Labor Courts) is carried by the Administration of Courts, situated in Jerusalem. It is to be noted that both the General and Labor courts are paperless courts, i.e. storage of court files, as well as court decisions, are carried out electronically.

Israel's Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty seeks to defend human rights and liberties in Israel. Israel is the only country in the region ranked "Free" by Freedom House based on the level of civil liberties and political rights; the "Israeli Occupied Territories/Palestinian Authority" was ranked "Not Free." In 2010, Israel was also the only country in the Middle East to be ranked "free" by Freedom House's "Freedom of the Press report, ranking the highest in the region.

Administrative districts

 

Districts of Israel: (1) Northern, (2) Haifa, (3) Center, (4) Tel Aviv, (5) Jerusalem, (6) Southern

The State of Israel is divided into six main administrative districts, known as mehozot (מחוזות; singular: mahoz)  Center, Haifa, Jerusalem, North, Southern, and Tel Aviv Districts. Districts are further divided into fifteen sub-districts known as nafot (נפות; singular: nafa), which are themselves partitioned into fifty natural regions.

Number↓ District↓ Main City↓ Provinces↓ Number of Residents↓
1 North Nazareth Kinneret, Safed, Acre, Golan, Jezreel Valley 1,242,100
2 Haifa Haifa Haifa, Hadera 880,000
3 Center Ramla Rishon Lezion, Sharon (Netanya), Petah Tikva, Ramla, Rehovot 1,770,200
4 Tel Aviv Tel Aviv Tel Aviv 1,227,000
5 Jerusalem Jerusalem Jerusalem 910,300
6 South Beersheba Ashkelon, Beersheba 1,053,600
B Judea and Samaria Modi'in Illit (Largest city) --- 304,569‏‏

For statistical purposes, the country is divided into three metropolitan areas: Tel Aviv metropolitan area (population 3,206,400), Haifa metropolitan area (population 1,021,000), and Beer Sheva metropolitan area (population 559,700).Israel's largest municipality, both in population and area, is Jerusalem with 773,800 residents in an area of 126 square kilometers (49 sq mi) (in 2009).

Israeli government statistics on Jerusalem include the population and area of East Jerusalem, which is widely recognized as part of the Palestinian territories under Israeli occupation. Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Rishon LeZion rank as Israel's next most populous cities, with populations of 393,900, 265,600, and 227,600 respectively.

Occupied territories

In 1967, as a result of the Six-Day War, Israel gained control of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza strip and the Golan Heights. Israel also took control of the Sinai Peninsula, but returned it to Egypt as part of the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty.

Map of Israel showing the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights

Following Israel's capture of these territories, settlements consisting of Israeli citizens were established within each of them. Israel has applied civilian law to the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, incorporating them into its territory and offering their inhabitants permanent residency status and the possibility to become full citizen if they asked it. In contrast, the West Bank has remained under military occupation, and it and the Gaza Strip are seen by the Palestinians and most of the international community as the site of a future Palestinian state.The UN Security Council has declared the incorporation of the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem to be "null and void" and continues to view the territories as occupied.The International Court of Justice, principal judicial organ of the United Nations, determined in its 2004 advisory opinion on the legality of the construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier that the lands captured by Israel in the Six-Day War, including East Jerusalem, are occupied territory.

The status of East Jerusalem in any future peace settlement has at times been a difficult hurdle in negotiations between Israeli governments and representatives of the Palestinians. Most negotiations relating to the territories have been on the basis of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, which emphasises " the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war", and calls on Israel to withdraw from occupied territories in return for normalization of relations with Arab states, a principle known as "Land for peace".

The West Bank was annexed by Jordan in 1948, following the Arab rejection of the UN decision to create two states in Palestine. Only Britain recognized this annexation and Jordan has since ceded its claim to the territory to the PLO. The West Bank was occupied by Israel in 1967. The population are mainly Arab Palestinians, including refugees of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.] From their occupation in 1967 until 1993, the Palestinians living in these territories were under Israeli military administration. Since the Israel-PLO letters of recognition, most of the Palestinian population and cities have been under the internal jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, and only partial Israeli military control, although Israel has on several occasions redeployed its troops and reinstated full military administration during periods of unrest. In response to increasing attacks as part of the Second Intifada, the Israeli government started to construct the Israeli West Bank barrier. When completed, approximately 13 % of the Barrier will be constructed on the Green Line or in Israel with 87 % inside the West Bank.

The Gaza Strip was occupied by Egypt from 1948 to 1967 and then by Israel after 1967. In 2005, as part of Israel's unilateral disengagement plan, Israel removed all of its settlers and forces from the territory. Israel does not consider the Gaza Strip to be occupied territory and declared it a "foreign territory". That view has been disputed by numerous international humanitarian organizations and various bodies of the United Nations. Following June 2007, when Hamas assumed power in the Gaza Strip, Israel tightened its control of the Gaza crossings along its border, as well as by sea and air, and prevented persons from entering and exiting the area except for isolated cases it deemed humanitarian.Gaza has a border with Egypt and an agreement between Israel, the EU, the PA and Egypt governed how border crossing would take place (it was monitored by European observers), until June 2006, following the abduction of the soldier Gilad Shalit, when the crossing agreement ceased to exist.As of 2010 the Rafah border crossing was controlled by Egypt.Internal control of Gaza is in the hands of Hamas.

Foreign relations

Israel maintains diplomatic relations with 161 countries and has 94 diplomatic missions around the world. Only three members of the Arab League have normalized relations with Israel; Egypt and Jordan signed peace treaties in 1979 and 1994, respectively, and Mauritania opted for full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1999. Two other members of the Arab League, Morocco and Tunisia, which had some diplomatic relations with Israel, severed them at the start of the Second Intifada in 2000. Since 2003, ties with Morocco have been improved, and Israel's foreign minister has visited the country.

As a result of the 2009 Gaza War, Mauritania, Qatar, Bolivia, and Venezuela suspended political and economical ties with Israel.] Under Israeli law, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Yemen are enemy countries and Israeli citizens may not visit them without permission from the Ministry of the Interior. Since 1995, Israel has been a member of the Mediterranean Dialogue, which fosters cooperation between seven countries in the Mediterranean Basin and the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Shimon Peres, current President of Israel, greeted by U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House.
Foreign relations with United States, Germany, and India are among Israel's strongest.

The United States was the first country to recognize the State of Israel, followed by the Soviet Union. The United States may regard Israel as its primary ally in the Middle East, based on "common democratic values, religious affinities, and security interests".] The United States has provided total economic and military funding to Israel of over $100bn since 1962 under the Foreign Assistance Act, more than any other country,and Israel currently receives more than half of the total annual funds from the United States Foreign Military Financing program. Their bilateral relations are multidimensional and the United States is the principal proponent of the Arab-Israeli peace process. The United States and Israeli views differ on some issues, such as the Golan Heights, Jerusalem, and settlements.

India established full diplomatic ties with Israel in 1992 and has fostered a strong military, technological and cultural partnership with the country since then. One study revealed that India was the most pro-Israel nation in the world. India is the largest customer of Israeli military equipment and Israel is the second-largest military partner of India after the Russian Federation. India is also the second-largest Asian economic partner of Israel and the two countries enjoy extensive space technology ties.

Germany's strong ties with Israel include cooperation on scientific and educational endeavors and the two states remain strong economic and military partners. Under the reparations agreement, as of 2007 Germany had paid 25 billion euros in reparations to the Israeli state and individual Israeli holocaust survivors. The UK has kept full diplomatic relations with Israel since its formation having had two visits from heads of state in 2007. Relations between the two countries were also made stronger by former prime minister Tony Blair's efforts for a two state resolution. The UK is seen as having a "natural" relationship with Israel on account of the British Mandate for Palestine. Iran had diplomatic relations with Israel under the Pahlavi dynasty but withdrew its recognition of Israel during the Iranian Revolution.

Although Turkey and Israel did not establish full diplomatic relations until 1991,Turkey has cooperated with the State since its recognition of Israel in 1949. Turkey's ties to the other Muslim-majority nations in the region have at times resulted in pressure from Arab and Muslim states to temper its relationship with Israel.Relations between Turkey and Israel took a downturn after the Gaza War and Israel's raid of the Gaza flotilla. IHH, which organized the flotilla, is a Turkish charity that some believe has ties to Hamas and Al-Qaeda.

In Africa, Ethiopia is Israel's main and closest ally in the continent due to common political, religious and security interests. Israel provides expertise to Ethiopia on irrigation projects and thousands of Ethiopian Jews (Beta Israel) live in Israel.

wikipidia 

 

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
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 last Friday in March; ends the Sunday between the holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur
note: Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in 1950, but the US, like all other countries, maintains its Embassy in Tel Aviv
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 of the functions of a constitution are filled by the Declaration of Establishment (1948), the Basic Laws of the parliament (Knesset), and the Israeli citizenship law; note - since May 2003 the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee of the Knesset has been working on a draft constitution
Legal system:
mixture of English common law, British Mandate regulations, and in personal matters Jewish, Christian, and Muslim legal systems; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
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
 
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 who 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 four-year terms)
elections: last held on 10 February 2009 (next scheduled election to be held in 2013)
election results: percent of vote by party - Kadima 23.2%, Likud-Ahi 22.3%, YB 12.1%, Labor 10.2%, SHAS 8.8%, United Torah Judaism 4.5%, United Arab List 3.5%, National Union 3.4%, Hadash 3.4%, The Jewish Home 3%, The New Movement-Meretz 3%, Balad 2.6%; seats by party - Kadima 28, Likud-Ahi 27, YB 15, Labor 13, SHAS 11, United Torah Judaism 5, United Arab List 4, National Union 4, HADASH 4, The Jewish Home 3, The New Movement-Meretz 3, Balad 3
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (justices appointed by Judicial Selection Committee - made up of all three branches of the government; mandatory retirement age is 70)
Political parties and leaders:
Balad [Jamal ZAHALKA]; Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (HADASH) [Muhammad BARAKEH]; Kadima [Tzipora "Tzipi" LIVNI]; Labor Party [Ehud BARAK]; Likud [Binyamin NETANYAHU]; National Union [Yaakov KATZ]; SHAS [Eliyahu YISHAI]; The Jewish Home (HaBayit HaYehudi) [Daniel HERSCHKOWITZ]; The New Movement-Meretz [Haim ORON]; United Arab List-Ta'al [Ibrahim SARSUR]; United Torah Judaism or UTJ [Yaakov LITZMAN]; 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 of Settlements [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), CERN (observer), CICA, EBRD, FAO, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, OAS (observer), OECD (accession state), OPCW (signatory), OSCE (partner), Paris Club (associate), PCA, SECI (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Michael OREN
chancery: 3514 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 364-5500
FAX: [1] (202) 364-5607
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador James B. CUNNINGHAM
embassy: 71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv 63903
telephone: [972] (3) 519-7575
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 (Shield of David) centered between two equal horizontal blue bands near the top and bottom edges of the flag; the basic design resembles a Jewish prayer shawl (tallit), which is white with blue stripes; the hexagram as a Jewish symbol dates back to medieval times
National anthem:
name: "Hatikvah" (The Hope)
lyrics/music: Naftali Herz IMBER/traditional, arranged by Samuel COHEN
note: adopted 2004, unofficial since 1948; used as the anthem of the Zionist movement since 1897; the 1888 arrangement by Shmuel COHEN is thought to be based on the Romanian folk song "Carul cu boi" (The Ox Driven Cart)

cia fact


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