OVERVIEW FROM WIKIPEDIA:
Israel (; Hebrew: יִשְׂרָאֵל Yīsrāʾēl [jisʁaˈʔel]; Arabic: إِسْرَائِيل ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel (מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl [mediˈnat jisʁaˈʔel]; دَوْلَة إِسْرَائِيل Dawlat Isrāʾīl), is a country in Western Asia. Situated between the Eastern Mediterranean and the Red Sea, it is bordered by Lebanon to the north, by Syria to the northeast, by Jordan to the east, by Egypt to the southwest, and by the Palestinian territories — the West Bank along the east and the Gaza Strip along the southwest — with which it shares legal boundaries. Tel Aviv is the economic and technological center of the country, while its seat of government is in its proclaimed capital of Jerusalem, although Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem is unrecognized internationally.[fn 5]
The Southern Levant, of which modern Israel forms a part, witnessed some of the earliest human occupation outside of Africa, and is also among the earliest known sites of agriculture. It was inhabited by the Canaanites during the Bronze Age and by the Israelites during the Iron Age. The Israelites established two related polities, Israel and Judah, which later fell to, respectively, the Neo-Assyrian Empire (c. 720 BCE) and the Neo-Babylonian Empire(c. 586 BCE). The region was then successively ruled by the Achaemenid, Macedonian, Ptolemaic and Seleucid empires. A successful uprising against Seleucid control gave rise to the independent Hasmonean kingdom, but it was soon absorbed into the Roman Republic. In the 1st and 2nd centuries CE, local rebellions sparked the Jewish–Roman wars, resulting 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. Partition was accepted by the Jewish leadership, but rejected by Palestinian Arab leaders and the Arab states. 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 Bankand 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.[fn 6]
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, happiness and per capita income. With a population of over nine million people, it has the world's 28th-largest economy by nominal GDP, and ranks 22nd in the Human Development Index.