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16 Aug 2014 22:40

Established in 1948 as the Jewish State, struggling for its safe existence and in constants pursuit of peaceful coexistence with its neighbors; from history and geography, to politics and economy, here are the facts about the State of Israel

The State of Israel was formed on May 15 1948 as a Jewish state and a democratic republic. Over time it became one of the only two democracies in the Middle East, the other being Turkey.

Israel's Borders

In the West - the Mediterranean Sea and the Gaza Strip; in the North - Lebanon and Syria; in the East - Jordan and the Palestinian Authority's autonomous territories; and in the South - Egypt and the Red Sea.

Israel holds territories that it captured in 1967 from Syria (the Golan Heights), Jordan (the West Bank) and Egypt (Gaza). In certain sections of the West Bank, an autonomous Palestinian Authority was established.

Government and Administration

The state of Israel is republic, defined as a parliamentary democracy with proportional representation. The legislative authority is the Knesset and the executive authority is the government.

Since the country's inception, no political party has achieved an absolute majority, thus making all of Israel's governments coalition governments.

The Israeli president is chosen by the Knesset once every seven years. His role is primarily symbolic: the president in the highest office, he has no part of the three branches of government and no political status.

The President is the one who delegates the job of establishing that government on one of the members of Knesset after an election; Presidential consent is required for the dissolution of the Knesset, should it be required.

The President authority also extends to granting presidential pardons, appointing secular court judges, rabbinical judges to religious courts, and Kadis to the courts of Muslim law; appointing members to the Council on Higher Education, the National Academy of Science, the Broadcasting Authority, the Authority to Rehabilitate Prisoners, the Chief Rabbinical Council and the Governor of the Bank of Israel; The President also confirms and endorses the credentials of the Israeli ambassadors leaving for posts abroad and receives the credentials of the foreign diplomats posted in Israel.  

Israel is administratively divided into 6 districts and 14 provinces. Judea, Samaria and Gaza have a separate administration. The regional authorities - municipalities and local or regional councils - have legal jurisdiction in their area, as well as responsibility to provide residents with legal, social and sanitary services.

The country has a mandatory education law, which states that all Israeli children are entitled to eleven years of State funded, free education, ranging from kindergarten to the 10th grade. Israel's higher education system includes universities, colleges and institutions of religious instruction (yeshivot, midrashot).

Israel provides general health care, making an array of medical services available for every citizen. Healthcare enforcement is divided between the Ministry of Health and the health maintenance organizations. Israeli citizens are required to pay a health tax to the National Insurance Institute to ensure their social rights.