THE STATE OF ISRAEL
Declaration of Independence: 14May1948 Flag: The colours blue and white were chosen according to the colors of the ‘Tallit’ – the Jewish prayer shawl. The Star of David appearing in the center of the flag has been a Jewish symbol for hundreds of years.
State emblem: The official emblem of the State of Israel is the Menorah–a candelabrum, whose shape is derived from the sage plant (Moria). In certain species of the plant, the leaves branch out in a way that resembles the candelabrum that stood in the Holy Temple in ancient Jerusalem. The Menora appearing in the state emblem is similar to the one carved on the Arch of Titus in Rome. It is flanked by two olive branches that symbolize Israel’s longing for peace.
Official languages: Hebrew, Arabic. Currency: The Israeli currency is the New Israeli Sheqel (NIS), which is divided into 100 agorot (as of January 1986). Capital city: Jerusalem.
The Proclamation of Independence (selected excerpts): “…The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions… We extend our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land…”
Governing system: democratic – parliamentary.
Legislative branch is the Knesset. The Knesset is the parliament of the State of Israel. It is located in Jerusalem, and has 120 members. The present Knesset is the 18th in number, and the elections for this Knesset were held on 10 February 2009. The Knesset has parliamentary sovereignty, and enacts legislation on every issue.
Executive branch includes the government and government ministries. The judiciary includes the system of courts: the Supreme Court, the District Court, Magistrates Court, Court for Local Affairs, Religious Court, Traffic Court, Labour Court, Juvenile Court, etc.
President: The first President: Dr. Chaim Weizmann, was sworn into office on 16 February 1949. The President is elected by the Knesset every seven years, and his main duties are representational. The incumbent President: Shimon Peres, was sworn into office on 13 June 2007.
The Prime Minister: The first Prime Minister was David Ben-Gurion. The first government was established on 8 March 1949. The incumbent Prime Minister: Binyamin Netanyahu, has been in office since 31 March 2009.
Local authorities: Municipalities, local councils, and regional councils. These authorities have governmental and administrative powers in their areas of jurisdiction, and are responsible for provision of services to their constituencies.
Location: The State of Israel is located on the southwest tip of the Asian continent, on the eastern basin of the Mediterranean Sea. The State of Israel lies at a latitude between 29° and the 33° north of the Equator.
The State of Israel, by District
Jerusalem District – Northern District – Haifa District – Central District
Tel Aviv District – Southern District
Total length of border: 857 km.
Length of Mediterranean Sea Coast 194 km. Length of Red Sea Coast about 12 km.
Lowest point: The Dead Sea – 423 m. below sea level. Highest point: Mount Hermon – 2,224 m.
The only river in Israel: The Jordan River, approximately 250 km. Main streams: Alexander, Besor, Hadera, Yarqon, Sa’ar, Qishon, and Soreq.
Natural resources: Raw materials for construction of buildings and roads: gravel and stone, sand, kurkar, clay, limestone, gypsum, and tuff. Raw materials for manufacturing: potash, bromine, magnesium, salt, phosphates, sand, clay, and limestone. Energy sources: natural gas, oil shales.
Population Population-Total (end of year) 7,695,100
Percentage of annual population growth 1.9%
Thereof: Percentage of natural increase 88.6% out of the total Urban population 91.6% Population density: (persons per km2) 334.5
Total monthly consumption expenditure per household (NIS) Total Food 16.3% Housing 24.4% Dwelling and household maintenance 9.7% Furniture and household equipment 3.8% Clothing and footwear 3.2% Health 5.1% Education, culture and entertainment 13.9% Transport and communications 19.1% Miscellaneous goods and services Gross monthly money income per household (NIS) Total 100.0% From work 76.5% From capital 3.4% From pension and provident funds 7.4% From allowances and assistance 12.7%