History Of Israel
On May 14, 1948, the Jewish People's Council declared the establishment of the State of Israel, following a prolonged campaign beginning in the late 19th century, when the Zionist movement began working towards creating a homeland for the Jewish people. About 42% of the world's Jews live in Israel today.
The area of modern Israel is small, about the size of Wales or half the size of Costa Rica, and is located roughly on the site of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah. It is the birthplace of the Hebrew language spoken in Israel and of monotheism, first as Judaism and later of Christianity. It contains sites sacred to Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Druze and Bahai. Although coming under the sway of various empires and home to a variety of ethnicities, it was predominantly Jewish until the Jewish–Roman wars after which Jews became a minority in most regions, except Galilee. The region became increasingly Christian after the 3rd century and then largely Muslim from the 7th Century Arab conquest up until the 20th century.
The area, commonly referred to as the Holy Land or Palestine, became a focal point of conflict between Christianity and Islam between 1096 and 1291 and from the end of the Crusades until the British conquest in 1917 was part of the Syrian province of first the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt and then (from 1517) the Ottoman Empire.
In the late-19th century, persecution of Jews in Europe led to the creation of the Zionist movement, which was eventually able to win international support for a Jewish-majority state on the site of the ancient kingdoms. Following the British conquest of Syria in the First World War and the formation of the Mandate of Palestine, Jewish immigration to Palestine increased and gave rise to Arab-Jewish tensions and a collision of the Arab and Jewish nationalist movements.
Israeli independence in 1948 was marked by massive immmigration of Jews from both Europe and the Islamic world to Israel, and of Arabs from Israel leading to extensive conflict with the Arab League.
Since about 1970, the United States has become the principal ally of Israel. In 1979 an uneasy peace was established with Egypt, based on the Camp David Accords and in 1993 peace treaties were signed with the PLO and in 1994 with Jordan. However, conflict with the Arab states and the Palestinians, many of whom live in Israel itself or in territory occupied by Israel after the 1967 war, continues to play a major role in Israeli (and international) political, social and economic life.
The Israeli economy was initially primarily socialist and the country dominated by social democratic parties until the 1970s. Since then the Israeli economy has gradually moved to capitalism and a free market economy, partially retaining the social welfare system.
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