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Israel (also see separate Gaza Strip and West Bank entries) Government

    Country name:
    conventional long form: State of Israel
    conventional short form: Israel
    local long form: Medinat Yisra'el
    local short form: Yisra'el

    Data code: IS

    Government type: republic

    Capital: Jerusalem
    note: Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in 1950, but the US, like nearly all other countries, maintains its Embassy in Tel Aviv

    Administrative divisions: 6 districts (mehozot, singular—mehoz); Central, Haifa, Jerusalem, Northern, Southern, Tel Aviv

    Independence: 14 May 1948 (from 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

    Constitution: no formal constitution; some of the functions of a constitution are filled by the Declaration of Establishment (1948), the basic laws of the parliament (Knesset), and the Israeli citizenship law

    Legal system: mixture of English common law, British Mandate regulations, and, in personal matters, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim legal systems; in December 1985, Israel informed the UN Secretariat that it would no longer accept compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

    Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

    Executive branch:
    chief of state: President Ezer WEIZMAN (since 13 May 1993)
    head of government: Prime Minister Binyamin NETANYAHU (since 18 June 1996)
    cabinet: Cabinet selected from and approved by the Knesset
    elections: president elected by the Knesset for a five-year term; election last held 4 March 1998 (next to be held NA March 2003); prime minister elected by popular vote for a four-year term; election last held 29 May 1996 (early elections are scheduled for 17 May 1999); note—in March 1992, the Knesset approved legislation, effective in 1996, which allowed for the direct election of the prime minister; under the new law, each voter casts two ballots—one for the direct election of the prime minister and one for the party in the Knesset; the candidate that receives the largest percentage of the popular vote then works to form a coalition with other parties to achieve a parliamentary majority of 61 seats; finally, the candidate must submit his or her cabinet to the Knesset for approval and this must be done within 45 days of the election; in contrast to the old system, under the new law, the prime minister's party need not be the single-largest party in the Knesset
    election results: Ezer WEIZMAN reelected president by the Knesset with a total of 63 votes, other candidate, Shaul AMOR, received 49 votes (there were seven abstentions and one absence); Binyamin NETANYAHU elected prime minister; percent of vote—Binyamin NETANYAHU 50.4%, Shimon PERES 49.5%

    Legislative branch: unicameral Knesset or parliament (120 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
    elections: last held 29 May 1996 (early elections are scheduled for 17 May 1999)
    election results: percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—Labor Party 34, Likud Party 32, SHAS 10, MERETZ 9, National Religious Party 9, Yisra'el Ba'Aliya 7, Hadash-Balad 5, Third Way 4, United Arab List 4, United Jewish Torah 4, Moledet 2; note—Likud, Tzomet, and Gesher candidates ran on a joint list

    Judicial branch: Supreme Court, appointed for life by the president

    Political parties and leaders:
    government coalition: Likud Party [Prime Minister Binyamin NETANYAHU]; Tzomet [ Rafael EITAN]; SHAS [Arieh DERI]; National Religious Party [Yitzhak LEVI]; Yisra'el Ba'Aliya [Natan SHARANSKY]; United Jewish Torah [Meir PORUSH]; Third Way [Avigdor KAHALANI]
    opposition: Labor Party [Ehud BARAK]; MERETZ [Yossi SARID]; United Arab List [Abd al-Malik DAHAMSHAH]; Hadash-Balad [Hashim MAHAMID]
    other: Moledet [Rehavam ZEEVI]; Gesher [David LEVI]

    Political pressure groups and leaders: Gush Emunim, Israeli nationalists advocating Jewish settlement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip; Peace Now supports territorial concessions in the West Bank and is critical of government's Lebanon policy

    International organization participation: BSEC (observer), CCC, CE (observer), CERN (observer), EBRD, ECE, FAO, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, IDA, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE (partner), PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

    Diplomatic representation in the US:
    chief of mission: Ambassador Zalman SHOVAL
    chancery: 3514 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 364-5500
    FAX: [1] (202) 364-5610
    consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco

    Diplomatic representation from the US:
    chief of mission: Ambassador Edward S. WALKER, Jr.
    embassy: 71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv
    mailing address: PSC 98, Unit 7228, APO AE 09830
    telephone: [972] (3) 519-7575
    FAX: [972] (3) 517-3227
    consulate(s) general: Jerusalem; note—an independent US mission, established in 1928, whose members are not accredited to a foreign government

    Flag description: white with a blue hexagram (six-pointed linear star) known as the Magen David (Shield of David) centered between two equal horizontal blue bands near the top and bottom edges of the flag

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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)