Israel (State of Israel)
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The Southern Levant, of which modern Israel forms a part, is on the land corridor used by hominins to emerge from Africa and has some of the first signs of human habitation. In ancient history, it was where Canaanite and later Israelite civilizations developed, and where the kingdoms of Israel and Judah emerged, before falling, respectively, to the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Neo-Babylonian Empire. During the classical era, the region was ruled by the Achaemenid, Macedonian, Ptolemaic and Seleucid empires. The Maccabean Revolt gave rise to the Hasmonean kingdom, before the Roman Republic took control a century later. The subsequent Jewish–Roman wars resulted in widespread destruction and displacement across Judea. Under Byzantine rule, Christians replaced Jews as the majority. From the 7th century, Muslim rule was established under the Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid and Fatimid caliphates. In the 11th century, the First Crusade asserted European Christian rule under the Crusader states. For the next two centuries, the region saw continuous wars between the Crusaders and the Ayyubids, ending when the Crusaders lost their last territorial possessions to the Mamluk Sultanate, which ceded the territory to the Ottoman Empire at the onset of the 16th century.
In the late 19th century, the Zionist movement began promoting the creation of a Jewish homeland in Ottoman Palestine. Following World War I, Britain was granted control of the region by the League of Nations mandate, in what became known as Mandatory Palestine. After World War II, the newly formed United Nations adopted the Partition Plan for Palestine in 1947, recommending the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states, and an internationalized Jerusalem. Following a civil war within Mandatory Palestine between Yishuv and Palestinian Arab forces, Israel declared independence at the termination of the British Mandate. A day later, several surrounding Arab countries intervened, leading to the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, which concluded with the 1949 Armistice Agreements that saw Israel in control of most of the former mandate territory, while the West Bank and Gaza were held by Jordan and Egypt respectively. Over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs, about half of the pre-war Arab population, were expelled from or fled the territory Israel would come to control. During and immediately after the war, around 260,000 Jews emigrated or fled from the Arab world to Israel.
Israel has since fought wars with several Arab countries, and since the 1967 Six-Day War has occupied the Syrian Golan Heights and the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip—the longest military occupation in modern history—though whether Gaza remains occupied following the Israeli disengagement is disputed. Israel has effectively annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, though these actions have been rejected as illegal by the international community, and established settlements within the occupied territories, which are also considered illegal under international law. While Israel has signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and has normalized relations with a number of other Arab countries, it remains formally at war with Syria and Lebanon, and efforts to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have thus far stalled.
The country has a parliamentary system, proportional representation, and universal suffrage. The prime minister serves as head of government, while the Knesset is the unicameral legislature. Israel is a highly developed country and an OECD member, performing very high in measures of education, life expectancy, human development, happiness and per capita income. With a population of over nine million people, it has the world's 28th-largest economy by nominal GDP.
Under the British Mandate (1920–1948), the whole region was known as 'Palestine' (פלשתינה [א״י]). Upon independence in 1948, the country formally adopted the name 'State of Israel' (מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, ; دَوْلَة إِسْرَائِيل,, ) after other proposed historical and religious names including 'Land of Israel' (Eretz Israel), Ever (from ancestor Eber), Zion, and Judea, were considered but rejected, while the name 'Israel' was suggested by Ben-Gurion and passed by a vote of 6–3. In the early weeks of independence, the government chose the term "Israeli" to denote a citizen of Israel, with the formal announcement made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Moshe Sharett.
The names Land of Israel and Children of Israel have historically been used to refer to the biblical Kingdom of Israel and the entire Jewish people respectively. The name 'Israel' (Hebrew: Yisraʾel, Isrāʾīl; Septuagint Ἰσραήλ, Israēl, 'El (God) persists/rules', though after often interpreted as 'struggle with God') in these phrases refers to the patriarch Jacob who, according to the Hebrew Bible, was given the name after he successfully wrestled with the angel of the Lord. Jacob's twelve sons became the ancestors of the Israelites, also known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel or Children of Israel. Jacob and his sons had lived in Canaan but were forced by famine to go into Egypt for four generations, lasting 430 years, until Moses, a great-great-grandson of Jacob, led the Israelites back into Canaan during the "Exodus". The earliest known archaeological artefact to mention the word "Israel" as a collective is the Merneptah Stele of ancient Egypt (dated to the late 13th century BCE).
Currency / Language
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