Government of Israel - History

Government of Israel - History

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conventional long form: State of Israel

conventional short form: Israel

local long form: Medinat Yisra'el

local short form: Yisra'el

etymology: named after the ancient Kingdom of Israel; according to Biblical tradition, the Jewish patriarch Jacob received the name "Israel" ("He who struggles with God") after he wrestled an entire night with an angel of the Lord; Jacob's 12 sons became the ancestors of the Israelites, also known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel, who formed the Kingdom of Israel


name: Jerusalem; note - the US recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 without taking a position on the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty

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, Friday before the last Sunday in March; ends the last Sunday in October

etymology: Jerusalem's settlement may date back to 2800 B.C.; it is named Urushalim in Egyptian texts of the 14th century B.C.; "uru-shalim" likely means "foundation of [by] the god Shalim", and derives from Hebrew/Semitic "yry", "to found or lay a cornerstone", and Shalim, the Canaanite god of dusk and the nether world; Shalim was associated with sunset and peace and the name is based on the same S-L-M root from which Semitic words for "peace" are derived (Salam or Shalom in modern Arabic and Hebrew); this confluence has thus led to naming interpretations such as "The City of Peace" or "The Abode of Peace"

Administrative divisions

6 districts (mehozot, singular - mehoz); Central, Haifa, Jerusalem, Northern, Southern, Tel Aviv


14 May 1948 (following 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


history: no formal constitution; some functions of a constitution are filled by the Declaration of Establishment (1948), the Basic Laws, and the Law of Return (as amended)

amendments: proposed by Government of Israel ministers or by the Knesset; passage requires a majority vote of Knesset members and subject to Supreme Court judicial review; 11 of the 13 Basic Laws have been amended at least once, latest in 2020 (Basic Law: the Knesset) (2021)

Legal system

mixed legal system of English common law, British Mandate regulations, and Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religious laws


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Israel

dual citizenship recognized: yes, but naturalized citizens are not allowed to maintain dual citizenship

residency requirement for naturalization: 3 out of the 5 years preceding the application for naturalization

note: Israeli law (Law of Return, 5 July 1950) provides for the granting of citizenship to any Jew - defined as a person being born to a Jewish mother or having converted to Judaism while renouncing any other religion - who immigrates to and expresses a desire to settle in Israel on the basis of the Right of aliyah; the 1970 amendment of this act extended the right to family members including the spouse of a Jew, any child or grandchild, and the spouses of children and grandchildren


18 years of age; universal; 17 years of age for municipal elections

Executive branch

chief of state: President Reuben RIVLIN (since 27 July 2014)

head of government: Prime Minister Binyamin NETANYAHU (since 31 March 2009)

cabinet: Cabinet selected by prime minister and approved by the Knesset

elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by the Knesset for a single 7-year term; election last held on 10 June 2014 (next to be held in 2021); following legislative elections, the president, in consultation with party leaders, tasks a Knesset member (usually the member of the largest party) with forming a government

election results: Reuven RIVLIN elected president in second round; Knesset vote - Reuven RIVLIN (Likud) 63, Meir SHEETRIT (The Movement) 53, other/invalid 4; note - on 20 May 2020 – after three national elections, each ending in failed bids by Prime Minister Binyamin NETANYAHU and Blue and White party leader Benny GANTZ to form a coalition government, both signed an agreement on the formation of a national emergency government in which NETANYAHU continues as prime minister for 18 months when GANTZ will replace him

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Knesset (120 seats; members directly elected in a single nationwide constituency by closed-list proportional representation vote, with a 3.25% threshold to gain representation; members serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 2 March 2020 (next to be held on 23 March 2021)

election results: percent by party (preliminary) - Likud 29.2%, Blue and White 26.4%, Joint List 13.1%, Shas 7.7%, United Torah Judaism 6.2%, Yisrael Beiteinu 5.9%, Labor-Gesher-Meretz 5.7%, Yamina 5%, other 0.8%; seats by party (preliminary) - Likud 36, Blue and White 33, Joint List 15, Shas 9, United Torah Judaism 7, Yisrael Beiteinu 7, Labor-Gesher Meretz 7, Yamina 6; composition - NA

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of the president, deputy president, 13 justices, and 2 registrars) and normally sits in panels of 3 justices; in special cases, the panel is expanded with an uneven number of justices

judge selection and term of office: judges selected by the 9-member Judicial Selection Committee, consisting of the Minister of Justice (chair), the president of the Supreme Court, two other Supreme Court justices, 1 other Cabinet minister, 2 Knesset members, and 2 representatives of the Israel Bar Association; judges can serve up to mandatory retirement at age 70

subordinate courts: district and magistrate courts; national and regional labor courts; family and juvenile courts; special and religious courts

Political parties and leaders

Democratic Union [Nitzan HOROWITZ] (alliance includes Democratic Israel, Meretz, Green Movement)
Joint List [Ayman ODEH] (alliance includes Hadash, Ta’al, United Arab List, Balad)
Kahol Lavan [Benny GANTZ] (alliance includes Israeli Resilience, Yesh Atid, Telem)
Labor-Gesher [Amir PERETZ]
Likud [Binyamin NETANYAHU]
Otzma Yehudit [Itamar BEN-GVIR]
United Torah Judaism, or UTJ [Yaakov LITZMAN] (alliance includes Agudat Israel and Degel HaTorah)
Yamina [Ayelet SHAKED]
Yisrael Beiteinu [Avigdor LIEBERMAN]
Zehut [Moshe FEIGLIN]

Benjamin Netanyahu Calls New Israeli Government ‘Biggest Election Scam, Maybe, in History’

7,077 Yonatan Sindel / Associated Press

Israel’s new government is facing a crisis of legitimacy as a prime minister whose party won only 6% of the vote is set to take the reins of government, while the party that won the most votes is being pushed out of office and into opposition.

The crisis is exacerbated by the fact that incoming Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of the Yamina party betrayed most of his promises to his voters, including a pledge not to govern with Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party, or with Arab parties.

There are parallel to the 2020 election in the U.S. Though few claim that the Israeli election was “stolen,” as the country has in-person, hand-counted voting, there is a sense on the Israeli political right that the result was manipulated unfairly.

Moreover, incumbent Prime Minister Netanyahu has been under investigation for years, and faces trial on rather flimsy charges. And Israelis are perplexed that Bennett, a politician with a small constituency, could have emerged the winner.

There is even the presence of an Israeli parallel to the Republican Party’s “Never Trump” faction — political rivals on the right, such as Bennet, Gideon Sa’ar, and Avigdor Lieberman, who have broken with Netanyahu, ostensibly on principle.

On Sunday, Netanyahu condemned the incoming government, which has yet to be confirmed by Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. He called it “a scam against the public. The biggest election scam, maybe, in history,” the Times of Israel noted.

Netanyahu argued that the new government would not be able to withstand pressure from U.S. President Joe Biden to accept the Iran nuclear deal, and that it would be weak against Palestinian terror, given its reliance on an Islamist party.

Authorities are concerned that public outrage could turn violent. There have been demonstrations outside the homes of Yamina members of the Knesset, some of whom have suffered personal threats. Netanyahu has condemned incitement against his rivals, but claimed that he and his Likud Party have suffered worse.

There is also concern about a Jerusalem Day parade that was postponed last month because of the war with Hamas, and which could attract far-right participants.

Polls suggest that the Israeli public prefers the Bennet-Lapid government to a fifth round of elections this fall. But if the Bennett government takes office, it would probably be unstable, as Bennett has lost even the support of his own voters.

Israel's parliament approves new government, ending Netanyahu's 12-year rule

Jerusalem &mdash Israel's parliament has narrowly voted in favor of a new coalition government , ending Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's historic 12-year rule.

Naftali Bennett, a former ally of Netanyahu turned bitter rival, has become prime minister, presiding over a diverse and fragile coalition comprised of eight parties with deep ideological differences. Netanyahu remains head of the Likud party and will hold the post of opposition leader.

Netanyahu sat silently during the vote. After it was approved, he stood up to leave the chamber, before turning around and shaking Bennett's hand. A dejected Netanyahu, wearing a black medical mask, then sat down in the opposition leader's chair.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett shake hands following the vote on the new coalition at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem on June 13, 2021. RONEN ZVULUN / REUTERS

President Biden welcomed the new government, saying he "look[s] forward to working with Prime Minister Bennett to strengthen all aspects of the close and enduring relationship between our two nations."

"Israel has no better friend than the United States. The bond that unites our people is evidence of our shared values and decades of close cooperation and as we continue to strengthen our partnership, the United States remains unwavering in its support for Israel's security," Mr. Biden said in a statement. "My administration is fully committed to working with the new Israeli government to advance security, stability, and peace for Israelis, Palestinians, and people throughout the broader region."

Sunday's vote, passed by a 60-59 margin, ended a two-year cycle of political paralysis in which the country held four elections.

The eight parties in the coalition, including a small Arab faction that is making history by sitting in the ruling coalition, are united in their opposition to Netanyahu and new elections but agree on little else. They are likely to pursue a modest agenda that seeks to reduce tensions with the Palestinians and maintain good relations with the U.S. without launching any major initiatives.

Trending News

Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption , is expected to vigorously oppose the new government. If just one faction bolts, it could lose its majority and would be at risk of collapse, giving him an opening to return to power.

The country's deep divisions were on vivid display as Bennett addressed parliament ahead of the vote. He was repeatedly interrupted and loudly heckled by supporters of Netanyahu, several of whom were escorted out of the chamber.

Bennett's speech mostly dwelled on domestic issues, but he expressed opposition to U.S. efforts to revive Iran's nuclear deal with world powers.

"Israel will not allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons," Bennett said, vowing to maintain Netanyahu's confrontational policy. "Israel will not be a party to the agreement and will continue to preserve full freedom of action."

Bennett nevertheless thanked Mr. Biden and the U.S. for its decades of support for Israel.

Netanyahu, speaking after him, vowed to return to power. He predicted the incoming government would be weak on Iran and give in to U.S. demands to make concessions to the Palestinians.

"If it is destined for us to be in the opposition, we will do it with our backs straight until we topple this dangerous government and return to lead the country in our way," he said.

The new government is promising a return to normalcy after a tumultuous two years that saw four elections, an 11-day Gaza war last month and a coronavirus outbreak that devastated the economy before it was largely brought under control by a successful vaccination campaign.

The driving force behind the coalition is Yair Lapid, a political centrist who will become prime minister in two years, if the government lasts that long.

He called off a planned speech to parliament, instead saying he was ashamed that his 86-year-old mother had to witness the raucous behavior of his opponents. In a brief speech, he asked for "forgiveness from my mother."

"I wanted her to be proud of the democratic process in Israel. Instead she, along with every citizen of Israel, is ashamed of you and remembers clearly why it's time to replace you," he said.

First published on June 13, 2021 / 2:17 PM

© 2021 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Herod&rsquos Reign

Herod, then a man of 25, set about ridding the Galilee of what his official court historian, Nicolaus of Damascus, called &ldquorobbers&rdquo but who in reality may have been a kind of resistance movement against Roman rule. By 47 or 46 B.C.E., Herod&rsquos summary methods of justice had led him into a confrontation with the Sanhedrin.

Only the intervention of his father, Antipa­ter, prevented him from taking revenge for their having called him to account. Herod&rsquos difficulties with his brethren had no impact on his relations with the Romans, who appointed him strategos (governor and general) of Coele‑Syria, a Greek desig­nation for the area of Palestine and southwest Syria.

In 43 B.C.E. Antipater was poisoned, leaving the fate of Palestine open. Herod and Phasael managed to retain power, even after the accession of Antony as ruler over the entirety of Asia in 42 B.C.E. Despite the complaints of their countrymen, who dispatched embassies to Antony, Herod and Phasael each acquired the title of tetrarch.

New cabinet to be the largest in Israel’s history

The new government will feature 32 ministers, swelling to 36 once the coronavirus crisis is over, according to the coalition agreement signed late Monday, making it the largest government in Israeli history.

Likud incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu will continue as prime minister for the first 18 months, to be succeeded by Benny Gantz. The Blue and White leader will be acting prime minister for the first 18 months, and Netanyahu will be acting prime minister for the second 18 months.

In the event that Netanyahu is disqualified by the High Court of Justice from being acting prime minister due to the corruption charges pending against him, parliament will be dissolved and Israel will again go to elections.

The number of ministers will be divided equally between the Netanyahu- and Gantz-led blocs. Each bloc will have 16 ministers during the emergency period, rising to 18 within 30 days of the termination of the emergency period. Each bloc will also be entitled to eight deputy ministers.

The position of Knesset speaker will be held by the Likud, while the positions of foreign minister, e nergy minister and e nvironmental protection m inister will rotate upon the change of prime minister.

Likud’s bloc will hold the Finance, Education, Public Security, Interior, Transportation, Housing and Construction, Health, Religious Services, Intelligence, and Regional Cooperation ministries, as well as the Ministry for the Galilee, Negev and Periphery, and the Ministry for Jerusalem.

Blue and White will receive the Justice, Economy, Labor and Welfare, Communications, Agriculture, Culture and Sports, Absorption, Tourism, Minorities, Diaspora, Science and Space, Strategic Affairs, and Social Affairs ministries.

Orly-Levy Abekasis, who split her Gesher faction from Labor, is expected to receive a portfolio from Likud. Gantz is reportedly set to appoint an Arab Israeli minister for minorities.

Among the likely ministers:
Defense minister: Benny Gantz
Finance minister: Israel Katz (Likud)
Foreign minister (first term): Gabi Ashkenazi (Blue and White)
Justice minister: Avi Nissenkorn (Blue and White)
Housing and construction: Reserved for a Likud MK
Education: Reserved for a Likud MK
Economy: Amir Peretz (Labor)
Social welfare: Itzik Shmuli (Labor)
Public security: Miri Regev (Likud)
Health: Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism)
Education: Reserved for a Yamina MK, if Yamina joins the coalition
Transportation: Reserved for a Likud MK
Interior: Aryeh Deri (Shas)
Absorption: Pnina Tamano-Shata (Blue and White)
Culture: Either Assaf Zamir or Miki Haimovich (Blue and White)
Communications: Orit Farkash Hacohen (Blue and White) or Yoaz Hendel (Derech Eretz)
Knesset Speaker: Yariv Levin (Likud)

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Israel’s New Government Is Among the Most Diverse in the History of Democracies

Friday, 18 June 2021 | I challenge anyone to name a parliamentary democracy that has had a more diverse coalition government—racially, religiously, ethnically, ideologically, politically, national origin—than the current Israeli government. It includes people of nearly every color, from black Ethiopians to brown Muslims to swarthy Sephardim [mainly Jews from Spain and Portugal] to pale Russians. It includes a modern Orthodox Jew as prime minister, along with fundamentalist Muslims and atheists and agnostics Jews. It has a gay cabinet member, a deaf member of the Knesset [Parliament] and people who trace their roots to Asia, Africa, Europe and America.

A record number of nine women will be serving in the new Israeli cabinet. The current prime minister is a right-winger. The prime minister-designate who is currently minister of foreign affairs, is a left-winger. Every shade of political opinion—and there are many in Israel—is represented in this government. The old expression “two Jews, three opinions” can now be changed to “20 Israeli cabinet members, 30 opinions”—because each cabinet member represents multiple opinions within their parties.

All the same, bigots, particularly on the hard left in the United States and Europe, insist on characterizing Israel as an apartheid state. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Does this mean that perfect equality has been achieved in the nation state of the Jewish people? Of course not. Like every democracy struggling with racial and ethnic issues. Israel is far from perfect. Israel’s courts consistently render decisions moving the country toward complete equality, but courts alone can never achieve that result.

Moreover, Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people and as such can give equal civil, legal, religious, linguistic and political rights to its non-Jewish citizens, but it cannot give them equal national rights. The state was created to be Jewish in character and to never discriminate against Jews in immigration or religious rights. It is the only Jewish state in a world which discriminated against Jews for thousands of years and which stood by as six million of them were murdered.

Many other nations, states and provinces around the world, with far less historical justification, have even greater national and religious characteristics. Every Muslim-majority nation is officially a Muslim state that bestows considerable benefits on members of that faith. England is an Anglican Christian state with an established religion. Catholicism is the official religion of several European countries. Many national flags and emblems have crosses, crescents or other distinctly religious symbols. Several particular national anthems refer to religion.

Many countries have laws of return that favor certain ethnic and religious groups. Several Arab countries have religious restrictions and citizenship and land ownership. And on and on. But Israel is the only nation that is routinely condemned for its law of return, its observance of Jewish holidays, its flag and its exemption from military service for most Arabs (and Jews learning full-time in religious seminaries).

Even with these limited and historically justified exceptions, Israel stands among the countries of the world most committed to achieving real equality for all its citizens.

The good news is that Israel has finally achieved a government and that the government is among the most diverse in the history of democracy. The bad news is that its very diversity—particularly its political and ideological differences—also makes the government one of the most unstable in the history of democracy. It prevailed in the Knesset by a vote with 60 votes out of 120, with one abstention. So stay tuned to see how the new government manages to survive the challenges of diversity. In the meantime, however, stop singling out Israel for demonization by mislabeling it as apartheid or undemocratic.

Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus at Harvard Law School and author of the book, The Case Against the New Censorship: Protecting Free Speech from Big Tech, Progressives and Universities, Hot Books, April 20, 2021. His new podcast, “The Dershow,” can be seen on Spotify, Apple and YouTube. He is the Jack Roth Charitable Foundation Fellow at Gatestone Institute.

Not a Peacemaker

Mr. Netanyahu’s lack of progress with the Palestinians drew accusations that he had no interest in ending the conflict.

In fairness, Israelis had generally soured on peacemaking after the Second Intifada’s devastating suicide attacks and the takeover of Gaza by Hamas. The Israeli left was a shambles. The electorate, enlarged by immigrants from the former Soviet Union, was drifting to the right. When President Barack Obama pressed Mr. Netanyahu for a settlement freeze in 2009 to lure the Palestinians to the table, Mr. Netanyahu could stonewall him without paying a domestic political price.

Under White House pressure, Mr. Netanyahu for the first time endorsed the idea of a Palestinian state, though with so many caveats the Palestinians called it a nonstarter. And when he agreed to a 10-month moratorium on settlements, he carved out huge loopholes and oversaw a surge in housing approvals once the moratorium lapsed.

Understand Developments in Israeli Politics

    • Key Figures. The main players in the latest twist in Israeli politics have very different agendas, but one common goal. Naftali Bennett, who leads a small right-wing party, and Yair Lapid, the centrist leader of the Israeli opposition, have joined forces to form a diverse coalition to unseat Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.
    • Range of Ideals. Spanning Israel’s fractious political spectrum from left to right, and relying on the support of a small Arab, Islamist party, the coalition, dubbed the “change government” by supporters, will likely mark a profound shift for Israel.
    • A Common Goal. After grinding deadlock that led to four inconclusive elections in two years, and an even longer period of polarizing politics and government paralysis, the architects of the coalition have pledged to get Israel back on track.
    • An Unclear Future. Parliament still has to ratify the fragile agreement in a confidence vote in the coming days. But even if it does, it remains unclear how much change the “change government” could bring to Israel because some of the parties involved have little in common besides animosity for Mr. Netanyahu.

    For several years, Mr. Netanyahu went along with a series of back-channel negotiations with Palestinian representatives. In one of the most promising, Mr. Peres, by then an elder statesman, was nearing an agreement with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, in 2011, when Mr. Netanyahu pulled the plug.

    “Throughout the entire process, he knew he’d stop me at the last moment,” Mr. Peres once said, according to Mr. Caspit, the biographer. Mr. Peres added, “He moves toward peace, but also he doesn’t.”

    Even those who worked most closely with Mr. Netanyahu struggled to understand his motivation.

    “Was he ever serious?” asked Aaron David Miller, a longtime American negotiator and Middle East analyst. “That’s the real question.”

    Doubters had plenty of evidence: a 2001 videotape in which Mr. Netanyahu boasted that he had effectively “put an end to the Oslo accords” even as he publicly promised to honor them a 2015 election-eve vow to prevent a Palestinian state from being created. He spoke of allowing the Palestinians only a “state-minus,” with “all the power to govern themselves but none of the powers to threaten us.” Later, he promised never to “uproot a single settler.”

    When Secretary of State John Kerry tried to revive peace talks in 2013, he later recalled, Mr. Netanyahu repeatedly told him, “I can’t die on a small cross,” encouraging Mr. Kerry to attempt a comprehensive, final agreement.

    To jump-start talks, Mr. Netanyahu agreed to release Palestinian prisoners, but he also approved the construction of thousands of new homes in the West Bank, “a profound humiliation to Abbas,” who began to abandon hope in the talks, Mr. Kerry wrote. And when Israel dragged its feet on releasing the last of the prisoners, the Palestinians ran out of patience and talks broke down for good.

    Mr. Kerry concluded that Mr. Netanyahu was “a willing victim of his politics at home,” more interested in breaking Ben-Gurion’s record for duration in office than in “risking it all, as Rabin had and as Peres had, trying to be the one who finally made peace.”

    Harsher critics saw a deliberate strategy “to destroy Oslo by treating it not as a partnership with the P.L.O., but as a very hard-bargaining contract, in which he didn’t really want the other side to fulfill the terms,” in the words of Ian Lustick, a University of Pennsylvania political scientist. If he didn’t provoke the Palestinians to quit talks, Mr. Lustick argued, his demands would starve them of the political support they needed to retain legitimacy.

    A more forgiving view is that Mr. Netanyahu saw no chance of success. “For him to make the ‘great leap forward’ and risk his own political position, he would require a level of confidence that his counterpart,” Mr. Abbas, “would be willing and capable of doing the same,” Michael Herzog, an Israeli negotiator, wrote. “That confidence is not there.”

    Government of Israel - History

    • 1700s - Abraham settles in the land of Israel (Canaan).
    • 1500 - Joseph is sold into slavery. His family join him in Egypt.
    • 1400s - The Hebrews are enslaved by the Egyptians.

    • 30 - Jesus Christ is crucified.
    • 70 - The Romans destroy the Second Temple and much of Jerusalem.
    • 73 - The last of the Jewish rebels are defeated at Masada.
    • 132 - The Jewish people revolt against Roman rule. Hundreds of thousands of Jews are killed.

    Brief Overview of the History of Israel

    The land which is today the country of Israel has been sacred to the Jewish people for thousands of years. Today the land is also sacred to other religions such as Christianity. In 2000 BC, the Jewish Patriarch Abraham was promised the land of Israel by God. Abraham's descendents became the Jewish people. The Kingdom of Israel emerged around 1000 BC and was ruled by great kings such as King David and Solomon.

    Over the next 1000 plus years various empires would take control of the land. These included the Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Empires.

    In the 7th century the land was taken over by the Muslims. Later, the land would change hands a few times until the Ottoman Empire took control in 1517. The Ottoman Empire ruled until the 1900s.

    During the rule of the Arabs and the Ottoman Empire, the Jewish nation had dispersed throughout the world. Many millions lived in European countries. During World War II, Nazi Germany had hoped to exterminate the Jewish people through the Holocaust. Millions of Jewish people were executed and killed in concentration camps.

    After the end of World War II the United Nations divided up Israel between Arab and Jewish states. The Arabs rejected this division. On May 14, 1948 the Jewish people in the area proclaimed independence, naming their country Israel. Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon immediately attacked and the 1948 Arab-Israeli War began. After a year of fighting a ceasefire was declared and temporary borders were established.

    Hostilities continued between the Arabs and the Israelis in a series of wars including the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Today the tensions and hostility still exists between the two.


    Lowliest of all were the slaves, who were deprived of all rights. They were of various origins – some had been captives taken in battle (cf. Deut. 21:10–14, ii Chron. 28:8ff., et al.), and some were descendents of the aboriginal inhabitants of the land (i Kings 9:21 cf. Ezra 2:43–54 Neh. 7:46ff.). Finally, there were Israelites who were so improverished as to submit, voluntarily or under duress, to bondage to their creditors (ii Kings 4:1–17 Isa. 50:1 Neh. 5:1–5). Biblical law endows the Israelite slave with certain rights (though these may fall within the bounds of a social-legal utopia), entitling them to their freedom after a limited time in bondage (Ex. 21:2–11 Lev. 25:40 Deut. 15:12–18). However, there is little evidence that slaves were in reality granted their freedom on a regular basis. There does appear to have been some distinction between the status of a purchased slave and one who was born in the household (Gen. 17:12 Lev. 25:41). Private persons as well as the king owned slaves (ii Sam. 12:31). There are also some hints suggesting the existence of temple slaves, the "Nethinim" (Ezra 8:20, cf. Ezek. 44:7 Neh. 3:31 and 11:21), who were drawn from among the alien elements. There are no available data concerning the number and economic importance of slaves in ancient Israel. By analogy with other ancient societies in the Near East it may be assumed that during periods of territorial expansion and conquest they were numerous and of some economic importance.