Israel Overview

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Israel and Germany are linked by an increasingly close collaboration in research and innovation. Despite great differences in size, economic strength and age of their institutions, both countries are excellent partners on an equal footing.

israel population - fertility rate

Population / geography

Country name Medinat Yisra’elState of Israel
Capital Jerusalem (not internationally recognized)
Land area 20,766 km²
Population 8,630,700 (October 2016)
Life expectancy Men: 80.7 yearsWomen: 84.5 years

(2017 estimate)

Age structure 0-14 years: 27.5%15-64 years: 61.1%

65 years and older: 11.4%

(Status: 2017)

Population growth 1.56%(2015 estimate)
Population groups Jews 74.8%non-Jewish population groups 25.2%

(2015 estimate)

Languages Hebrew (official language)Arabic (language of the Arab minority)

English (business language)

Religions Jews 75%Muslim 17.5%

Christians 2%

Druze 1.6%

Others 3.9%

(2013 estimate)

Time zone UTC + 2, UTC + 3 (daylight saving time)
Currency 1 shekel / 100 ago red
Prefix +972



Politics / Administration

Country name Medinat Yisra’elState of Israel
Capital Jerusalem (not internationally recognized)
Form of government Parliamentary democracy
Head of state Reuven RivlinPresident (took office: July 24, 2014)
Head of government Benjamin NetanyahuPrime Minister since May 14, 2015
Foreign Minister Benjamin NetanyahuForeign Minister since May 14, 2015
Education Minister Naftali BennettMinister of Education & Minister for Diaspora Affairs since December 7, 2015
Research or Science Minister Ofir AkunisMinister for Science and Technology since 02.09.2015
Houses of Parliament Knesset / unicameral parliament
Ruling parties Likud (“Alliance”): 30 seats;Kulanu (“We All”): 10 seats;

HaBayit HaYehudi (“Jewish home”): 8 seats;

Shas (Sephardic Torah keepers): 7 seats;

Yahadut HaTorah (“Torah Judaism”): 6 seats;

Israel Beitenu (“Our House Israel”): 5 seats

Opposition parties Zionist Union: 24 seats;United Arab List: 13 seats;

Yesh Atid (“There is a future”): 11 seats;

Meretz (“Energy”): 5 seats;

independent MPs: 1 seat

Administrative structure Division into 6 districts (mechozot) with a total of 13 sub-districts: Northern District (Mechoz HaTzafon), District Haifa (Mechoz Cheifa), Central District (Mechoz haMerkaz), District Tel Aviv (Mechoz Tel-Aviv), District Jerusalem (Mechoz Jerschalajim), South District (Mechoz haDarom)
National holiday Independence Day ((changes annually because Independence Day is celebrated according to the Jewish calendar)
Independence day May 14, 1948 (Proclamation of the State of Israel)

State building and current political developments

Israel sees itself as a Jewish and democratic state. It has no written constitution. The so-called “Basic Laws” apply as a temporary replacement. So far Parliament has passed 14 of these laws.

The Declaration of Independence of May 14, 1948 defines Israel as a Jewish state and established its basic values: freedom, justice and peace, social and political equality regardless of race, religion or gender, freedom of belief and conscience as well as freedom in language, education and culture.

There is a separation of powers. The actions of the executive branch are monitored by the parliament (Knesset) and by a state controller who is independent from the government and is responsible to parliament. Administration and legislation are subject to the judiciary; the Supreme Court decides whether a law is in conformity with the basic laws of the state. The state president is elected by the Knesset for seven years; re-election is not possible. It has primarily representative functions. He accompanies the formation of a government and has – limited – discretion, for example when awarding the contract to form a government or when granting deadline extensions in this context. The President also has powers to pardon and mitigate sentences, which are particularly important in the case of politically motivated releases or exchanges of prisoners. Reuven Rivlin has been President of the Republic since July 24, 2014.

Israel’s parliament, the Knesset (“Assembly”), has 120 seats. The MPs are elected in a pure proportional representation. The elections, which regularly take place every four years, are direct, equal, secret, general and nationwide. (The entire country forms a single constituency). All Israeli nationals over the age of 18 are eligible to vote. Party lists are elected.

Traditionally, a large number of parties are represented in the Knesset, some of which represent certain sections of the population and may only have a few MPs. In this respect, Israeli governments are regularly coalition governments made up of several parties.

After the elections on March 17, 2015, the 20th Knesset has the following distribution of seats according to the official final result:

  • Likud (“Alliance”): 30 seats
  • Zionist Union: 24 seats
  • United Arab List: 13 seats
  • Yesh Atid (“There is a future”): 11 seats
  • Kulanu (“We all”): 10 seats
  • HaBayit HaYehudi (“Jewish Home”): 8 seats
  • Shas (Sephardic Torah Guardians): 7 seats
  • Yahadut HaTora (Torah Judaism): 6 seats
  • Israel Beitenu (Our House of Israel): 5 seats
  • Meretz (“Energy”): 5 seats
  • independent MPs: 1 seat

The Prime Minister is confirmed by Parliament and can be removed by it with a constructive vote of no confidence. The current Israeli government has been in office since May 14, 2015.

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