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The State of Israel (Hebrew: מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל (help·info), Medīnat Yisrā'el, is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It borders Lebanon in the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan and the West Bank in the east, Egypt and the Gaza Strip on the southwest, and contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Israel is defined as a Jewish and democratic state in its Basic Laws and is the world's only Jewish-majority state.
The idea of the "Land of Israel", known in Hebrew as Eretz Yisrael (or Eretz Yisroel), has been important and sacred to the Jewish people since Biblical times. According to the Torah, God promised the land to the three Patriarchs of the Jewish people. On the basis of scripture, the period of the three Patriarchs has been placed somewhere in the early 2nd millennium BCE, and the first Kingdom of Israel was established around the 11th century BCE. Subsequent Israelite kingdoms and states ruled intermittently over the next four hundred years, and are known from various extra-biblical sources.
Between the fall of the First Kingdom of Israel in 750 BCE and the Muslim conquests of the 7th century CE (a period of over 1500 years), the region came under Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Sassanian, and Byzantine rule. Jewish presence in the region significantly dwindled after the failure of the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Roman Empire in 132 CE. Nevertheless, there was a continuous small Jewish presence and Galilee became its religious center. The Mishnah and part of the Talmud, central Jewish texts, were composed during the 2nd to 4th centuries CE in Tiberias and Jerusalem. In 635 CE, the region, including Jerusalem, was conquered from the Byzantine Empire by the Arabs and was to remain under Muslim control for the next 1300 years. Control of the region transferred between the Umayyads, Abbasids, and Crusaders throughout the next six centuries, before being conquered by the Mamluk Sultanate, in 1260. In 1516, the region was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, and remained under Turkish rule until the 20th century.
Following the 1947 United Nations decision to partition Palestine, on 14 May 1948 David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization and president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared Israel a state independent from the British Mandate for Palestine. Neighboring Arab states invaded the next day in support of the Palestinian Arabs. Since then, Israel has fought a series of wars with neighboring Arab states, and has occupied territories, including the West Bank, Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights, beyond those delineated in the 1949 Armistice Agreements. Portions of these territories, including Jerusalem, have been annexed by Israel but the border with the neighboring West Bank is still not formally defined, as a result of the complex and unresolved political situation. Israel has signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, but efforts by elements on both sides of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict to solve the problem diplomatically have so far met with little or no success.
Israeli Soldiers at the Wailing Wall – The Kotel. Jerusalem, Israel. The Middle East 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.comThe Arab Market in the Arab Quarters, Jerusalem. Israel. The Middle East 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.comThe Arab Market in the Arab Quarters, Jerusalem. Israel. The Middle East 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.comThe Arab Market in the Arab Quarters, Jerusalem. Israel. The Middle East 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.comThe Arab Market in the Arab Quarters, Jerusalem. Israel. The Middle East 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.comThe Arab Market in the Arab Quarters, Jerusalem. Israel. The Middle East 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.comThe Arab Market in the Arab Quarters, Jerusalem. Israel. The Middle East 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.comThe Arab Market in the Arab Quarters, Jerusalem. Israel. The Middle East 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.comThe Western Wall, known as the Kotel. Jerusalem, Israel. The Middle East 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.comOrtodox Jews at Prayer at the Western Wall, known as the Kotel. Jerusalem, Israel. The Middle East 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.comOrtodox Jews at Prayer at the Western Wall, known as the Kotel. Jerusalem, Israel. The Middle East 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.comOrtodox Jews at Prayer at the Western Wall, known as the Kotel. Jerusalem, Israel. The Middle East 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.comOrtodox Jews at Prayer at the Western Wall, known as the Kotel. Jerusalem, Israel. The Middle East 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.comOrtodox Jews at Prayer at the Western Wall, known as the Kotel. Jerusalem, Israel. The Middle East 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.comOrtodox Jews at Prayer at the Western Wall, known as the Kotel. Jerusalem, Israel. The Middle East 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.comOrtodox Jews at Prayer at the Western Wall, known as the Kotel. Jerusalem, Israel. The Middle East 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.comOrtodox Jews at Prayer at the Western Wall, known as the Kotel. Jerusalem, Israel. The Middle East 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.comOrtodox Jews at Prayer at the Western Wall, known as the Kotel. Jerusalem, Israel. The Middle East 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.comOrtodox Jews at Prayer at the Western Wall, known as the Kotel. Jerusalem, Israel. The Middle East 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.comOrtodox Jews at Prayer at the Western Wall, known as the Kotel. Jerusalem, Israel. The Middle East 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.com

Categories & Keywords
Category:Travel and Places
Subcategory:Middle East
Subcategory Detail:Israel
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