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Israel-Relations with African States

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Israel Index

Until the early 1970s, Israel sent hundreds of agricultural experts and technicians to aid in developing newly independent sub-Saharan African states, seeking diplomatic relations in return. The Arab countries, however, exerted pressure on such states to break ties with Israel. Most African states eventually complied with this pressure because of their need for Arab oil at concessionary prices and because of Arab promises of financial aid. Furthermore, Israel received heavy criticism from African nations because of its relations with South Africa. Moreover, Israeli support for the Biafran secessionist movement in Nigeria alarmed the members of the Organization of African Unity, many of whom faced threatening national liberation movements in their own countries. The June 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Sinai Peninsula stirred a sense of unease among the African states; after the October 1973 War twenty-nine African states severed diplomatic relations with Israel. Malawi, Lesotho, and Swaziland were the only sub-Saharan countries to maintain diplomatic relations with Israel.

The African "embargo" of Israel began to collapse after the 1978 Camp David Accords and the establishment of diplomatic relations between Egypt and Israel. Following Zaire's lead in 1982, Liberia (1983), the Côte d'Ivoire (1986), Cameroon (1986), and Togo (1987) renewed diplomatic ties with Israel. Kenya, Gabon, Senegal, and Equatorial Guinea have also shown interest in renewing diplomatic relations. Several other African countries, although maintaining their diplomatic distance, nevertheless had unofficial ties with Israel, as expressed by the presence of Israeli advisers and technicians. Ghana had an Israeli "interests office," and Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and the Central African Republic all maintained unofficial ties with Israel.

Israeli military expertise and technical skills, particularly in desert reclamation, have often facilitated ties with the sub-Saharan nations. In Cameroon, Israel built a training center to assist in halting the advance of the Sahara Desert, and in Côte d'Ivoire, Israeli contractors undertook several major building projects. Israel also trained the elite armed units protecting the presidents of Cameroon, Liberia, Togo, and Zaire.

Israel has long had a special interest in Ethiopia, a partially Christian country, because of the presence of Falashas (Ethiopian Jews) in that country. Ethiopian-Israeli relations had been close until the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie and the imposition of a Marxist, pro-Soviet military regime in 1974. In 1978 Ethiopia received military aid from Israel as well as from the Soviet Union, Cuba, and Libya in its border war with Somalia. In 1984 and 1985, it was reported that, in exchange for Israeli military aid to Ethiopia in its battle against Muslim Eritrean secessionists supported by Arab states, Israel organized an airlift of more than 10,000 Falashas from ethopia to Israel. In 1988 it was estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 Falashas still remained in Ethiopia.

Israel has also had a longstanding interest in South Africa because of its approximately 110,000 Jews and 15,000 Israelis. Israeli leaders justified trade with South Africa on the ground that it offered protection for the South African Jewish community and developed export markets for Israel's defense and commercial industries. Excluding the arms trade, in 1986 Israel imported approximately US$181.1 million worth of South African goods, consisting primarily of coal; it exported products worth about US$58.8 million.

Israel has traditionally opposed international trade embargoes as a result of its own vulnerability at the hands of the UN and Third World-dominated bodies. In 1987, however, Israel took steps to reduce its military ties with South Africa so as to bring its policies in line with those of the United States and Western Europe, which had imposed limited trade, diplomatic, and travel sanctions on South Africa. In a speech to the Knesset on March 19, then Minister of Foreign Affairs Peres formally presented the Israeli cabinet's four-point plan to ban military sales contracts with South Africa (Israel's arms trade with South Africa was reportedly between US$400 and US$800 million a year); to condemn apartheid, which Peres characterized as "a policy totally rejected by all human beings;" to reduce cultural and tourist ties to a minimum; and to appoint an official committee to draft a detailed list of economic sanctions in line with those of the United States and other Western nations. The cabinet also announced its decision to establish an educational foundation for South African blacks and people of mixed race in Israel.

Data as of December 1988

BackgroundFollowing World War II, the British withdrew from their mandate of Palestine, and the UN partitioned the area into Arab and Jewish states, an arrangement rejected by the Arabs. Subsequently, the Israelis defeated the Arabs in a series of wars without ending the deep tensions between the two sides. The territories Israel occupied since the 1967 war are not included in the Israel country profile, unless otherwise noted. On 25 April 1982, Israel withdrew from the Sinai pursuant to the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. In keeping with the framework established at the Madrid Conference in October 1991, bilateral negotiations were conducted between Israel and Palestinian representatives and Syria to achieve a permanent settlement. Israel and Palestinian officials signed on 13 September 1993 a Declaration of Principles (also known as the "Oslo Accords") guiding an interim period of Palestinian self-rule. Outstanding territorial and other disputes with Jordan were resolved in the 26 October 1994 Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace. In addition, on 25 May 2000, Israel withdrew unilaterally from southern Lebanon, which it had occupied since 1982. In April 2003, US President BUSH, working in conjunction with the EU, UN, and Russia - the "Quartet" - took the lead in laying out a roadmap to a final settlement of the conflict by 2005, based on reciprocal steps by the two parties leading to two states, Israel and a democratic Palestine. However, progress toward a permanent status agreement was undermined by Israeli-Palestinian violence between September 2003 and February 2005. In the summer of 2005, Israel unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip, evacuating settlers and its military while retaining control over most points of entry into the Gaza Strip. The election of HAMAS to head the Palestinian Legislative Council froze relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Ehud OLMERT became prime minister in March 2006 and presided over a 34-day conflict with Hizballah in Lebanon in June-August 2006 and a 23-day conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip during December 2008 and January 2009. OLMERT, who in June 2007 resumed talks with PA President Mahmoud ABBAS, resigned in September 2008. Prime Minister Binyamin NETANYAHU formed a coalition in March 2009 following a February 2009 general election. Peace talks are currently stalled.
LocationMiddle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Lebanon
Area(sq km)total: 22,072 sq km
land: 21,642 sq km
water: 430 sq km
Geographic coordinates31 30 N, 34 45 E
Land boundaries(km)total: 1,017 km
border countries: Egypt 266 km, Gaza Strip 51 km, Jordan 238 km, Lebanon 79 km, Syria 76 km, West Bank 307 km

Coastline(km)273 km

Climatetemperate; hot and dry in southern and eastern desert areas

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Dead Sea -408 m
highest point: Har Meron 1,208 m
Natural resourcestimber, potash, copper ore, natural gas, phosphate rock, magnesium bromide, clays, sand
Land use(%)arable land: 15.45%
permanent crops: 3.88%
other: 80.67% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)1,940 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)1.7 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 2.05 cu km/yr (31%/7%/62%)
per capita: 305 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazardssandstorms may occur during spring and summer; droughts; periodic earthquakes
Environment - current issueslimited arable land and natural fresh water resources pose serious constraints; desertification; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; groundwater pollution from industrial and domestic waste, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography - notethere are about 340 Israeli civilian sites - including 100 small outpost communities in the West Bank - as well as 42 sites in the Golan Heights, 0 in the Gaza Strip, and 29 in East Jerusalem (July 2008 est.); Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee) is an important freshwater source
note: includes about 187,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, about 20,000 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, and fewer than 177,000 in East Jerusalem (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 27.9% (male 1,031,629/female 984,230)
15-64 years: 62.3% (male 2,283,034/female 2,221,301)
65 years and over: 9.9% (male 311,218/female 402,289) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 29.1 years
male: 28.4 years
female: 29.8 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)1.671% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)19.77 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)5.43 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)2.37 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 92% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.7% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 4.22 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4.39 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.05 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 80.73 years
male: 78.62 years
female: 82.95 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)2.75 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Israeli(s)
adjective: Israeli
Ethnic groups(%)Jewish 76.4% (of which Israel-born 67.1%, Europe/America-born 22.6%, Africa-born 5.9%, Asia-born 4.2%), non-Jewish 23.6% (mostly Arab) (2004)

Religions(%)Jewish 76.4%, Muslim 16%, Arab Christians 1.7%, other Christian 0.4%, Druze 1.6%, unspecified 3.9% (2004)
Languages(%)Hebrew (official), Arabic used officially for Arab minority, English most commonly used foreign language

Country nameconventional long form: State of Israel
conventional short form: Israel
local long form: Medinat Yisra'el
local short form: Yisra'el
Government typeparliamentary democracy
Capitalname: Jerusalem
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, begins last Friday in March; ends the Sunday between the holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur
note: Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in 1950, but the US, like nearly all other countries, maintains its Embassy in Tel Aviv
Administrative divisions6 districts (mehozot, singular - mehoz); Central, Haifa, Jerusalem, Northern, Southern, Tel Aviv
Constitutionno 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; note - since May 2003 the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee of the Knesset has been working on a draft constitution

Legal systemmixture of English common law, British Mandate regulations, and, in personal matters, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim legal systems; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: President Shimon PERES (since 15 July 2007)
head of government: Prime Minister Binyamin NETANYAHU (since 31 March 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet selected by prime minister and approved by the Knesset
elections: president is largely a ceremonial role and is elected by the Knesset for a seven-year term (one-term limit); election last held 13 June 2007 (next to be held in 2014 but can be called earlier); following legislative elections, the president assigns a Knesset member - traditionally the leader of the largest party - the task of forming a governing coalition
election results: Shimon PERES elected president; number of votes in first round - Shimon PERES 58, Reuven RIVLIN 37, Colette AVITAL 21; PERES elected president in second round with 86 votes (unopposed)

Legislative branchunicameral Knesset (120 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 10 February 2009 (next scheduled election to be held in 2013)
election results: percent of vote by party - Kadima 23.2%, Likud-Ahi 22.3%, YB 12.1%, Labor 10.2%, SHAS 8.8%, United Torah Judaism 4.5%, United Arab List 3.5%, NU 3.4%, Hadash 3.4%, The Jewish Home 3%, The New Movement-Meretz 3%, Balad 2.6%; seats by party - Kadima 28, Likud-Ahi 27, YB 15, Labor 13, SHAS 11, United Torah Judaism 5, United Arab List 4, NU 4, HADASH 4, The Jewish Home 3, The New Movement-Meretz 3, Balad 3

Judicial branchSupreme Court (justices appointed by Judicial Selection Committee - made up of all three branches of the government; mandatory retirement age is 70)

Political pressure groups and leadersB'Tselem [Jessica MONTELL, Executive Director] monitors human rights abuses; Peace Now [Yariv OPPENHEIMER, Secretary General] supports territorial concessions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; YESHA Council of Settlements [Danny DAYAN, Chairman] promotes settler interests and opposes territorial compromise
International organization participationBIS, BSEC (observer), CERN (observer), EBRD, FAO, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, OAS (observer), OECD (accession state), OPCW (signatory), OSCE (partner), Paris Club (associate), PCA, SECI (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Flag descriptionwhite 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

Economy - overviewIsrael has a technologically advanced market economy with substantial, though diminishing, government participation. It depends on imports of crude oil, grains, raw materials, and military equipment. Despite limited natural resources, Israel has intensively developed its agricultural and industrial sectors over the past 20 years. Israel imports substantial quantities of grain but is largely self-sufficient in other agricultural products. Cut diamonds, high-technology equipment, and agricultural products (fruits and vegetables) are the leading exports. Israel usually posts sizable trade deficits, which are covered by large transfer payments from abroad and by foreign loans. Roughly half of the government's external debt is owed to the US, its major source of economic and military aid. Israel's GDP, after contracting slightly in 2001 and 2002 due to the Palestinian conflict and troubles in the high-technology sector, has grown by about 5% per year since 2003. The economy grew an estimated 3.9% in 2008, slowed by the global financial crisis. The government's prudent fiscal policy and structural reforms over the past few years have helped to induce strong foreign investment, tax revenues, and private consumption, setting the economy on a solid growth path.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$203.4 billion (2008 est.)
$195.2 billion (2007 est.)
$185.6 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$202.1 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)4.2% (2008 est.)
5.2% (2007 est.)
5.3% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$28,600 (2008 est.)
$27,900 (2007 est.)
$27,000 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 2.6%
industry: 32.4%
services: 65% (2008 est.)
Labor force2.957 million (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 2%
industry: 16%
services: 82% (30 September 2008)
Unemployment rate(%)6.1% (2008 est.)
7.3% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line(%)21.60%
note: Israel's poverty line is $7.30 per person per day (2005)
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 24.2% (2007)
Distribution of family income - Gini index38.6 (2005)
35.5 (2001)
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)18.1% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $59.98 billion
expenditures: $64.21 billion (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)4.6% (2008 est.)
0.5% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$NA (31 December 2008)
$15.36 billion (31 December 2006)
Stock of quasi money$NA (31 December 2008)
$154.3 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$NA (31 December 2008)
$113.4 billion (31 December 2006)
Market value of publicly traded shares$134.5 billion (31 December 2008)
$236.4 billion (31 December 2007)
$173.3 billion (31 December 2006)
Economic aid - recipient$240 million from US (FY06)

Public debt(% of GDP)76.8% of GDP (2008 est.)
104.5% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - productscitrus, vegetables, cotton; beef, poultry, dairy products
Industrieshigh-technology projects (including aviation, communications, computer-aided design and manufactures, medical electronics, fiber optics), wood and paper products, potash and phosphates, food, beverages, and tobacco, caustic soda, cement, construction, metals products, chemical products, plastics, diamond cutting, textiles, footwear

Industrial production growth rate(%)3.5% (2008 est.)

Current account balance$2.213 billion (2008 est.)
$4.185 billion (2007 est.)
Exports$57.16 billion (2008 est.)
$50.07 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)machinery and equipment, software, cut diamonds, agricultural products, chemicals, textiles and apparel
Exports - partners(%)US 32.5%, Belgium 7.5%, Hong Kong 6.7% (2008)
Imports$64.4 billion (2008 est.)
$55.93 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)raw materials, military equipment, investment goods, rough diamonds, fuels, grain, consumer goods
Imports - partners(%)US 12.3%, Belgium 6.5%, China 6.5%, Switzerland 6.1%, Germany 6% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$42.51 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$28.52 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external$86.08 billion (31 December 2008)
$89.58 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$56.93 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$55.7 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$54.55 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$48.47 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Exchange ratesnew Israeli shekels (ILS) per US dollar - 3.56 (2008 est.), 4.14 (2007), 4.4565 (2006), 4.4877 (2005), 4.482 (2004)

Currency (code)new Israeli shekel (ILS); note - NIS is the currency abbreviation; ILS is the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) code for the NIS

Telephones - main lines in use2.9 million (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular8.902 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: most highly developed system in the Middle East although not the largest
domestic: good system of coaxial cable and microwave radio relay; all systems are digital; four privately-owned mobile-cellular service providers with countrywide coverage
international: country code - 972; submarine cables provide links to Europe, Cyprus, and parts of the Middle East; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (2 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) (2008)
Internet country code.il
Internet users2.106 million (2008)
Airports47 (2009)
Pipelines(km)gas 176 km; oil 442 km; refined products 261 km (2008)
Roadways(km)total: 17,870 km
paved: 17,870 km (includes 146 km of expressways) (2007)

Ports and terminalsAshdod, Elat (Eilat), Hadera, Haifa
Military branchesIsrael Defense Forces (IDF), Israel Naval Forces (INF), Israel Air Force (IAF) (2009)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)18 years of age for compulsory (Jews, Druzes) and voluntary (Christians, Muslims, Circassians) military service; both sexes are obligated to military service; conscript service obligation - 36 months for enlisted men, 21 months for enlisted women, 48 months for officers; reserve obligation to age 41-51 (men), 24 (women) (2008)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 1,717,362
females age 16-49: 1,636,574 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 1,474,966
females age 16-49: 1,404,712 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 61,223
female: 58,219 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)7.3% of GDP (2006)
Disputes - internationalWest Bank and Gaza Strip are Israeli-occupied with current status subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement - permanent status to be determined through further negotiation; Israel continues construction of a "seam line" separation barrier along parts of the Green Line and within the West Bank; Israel withdrew its settlers and military from the Gaza Strip and from four settlements in the West Bank in August 2005; Golan Heights is Israeli-occupied (Lebanon claims the Shab'a Farms area of Golan Heights); since 1948, about 350 peacekeepers from the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) headquartered in Jerusalem monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating, and assist other UN personnel in the region

Refugees and internally displaced personsIDPs: 150,000-420,000 (Arab villagers displaced from homes in northern Israel) (2007)
Electricity - production(kWh)50.41 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 99.9%
hydro: 0.1%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)46.15 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)2.081 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)5,246 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)235,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)69,580 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)318,900 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)1.94 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)1.19 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)1.19 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)30.44 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)0.1% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS5,100 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deathsfewer than 200 (2007 est.)
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.1%
male: 98.5%
female: 95.9% (2004 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)(years)total: 15 years
male: 15 years
female: 16 years (2006)
Education expenditures(% of GDP)6.9% of GDP (2004)

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