1 a republic in SW Asia, on the Mediterranean Sea: established in 1948, in the former British mandate of Palestine, as a primarily Jewish state; 8 disputes with Arab neighbours (who did not recognize the state of Israel), erupted into full-scale wars in 1948, 1956, 1967 (the Six Day War), and 1973 (the Yom Kippur War). In 1993 Israel agreed to grant autonomous status to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, according to the terms of a peace agreement with the P.L.O. Official languages: Hebrew and Arabic. Religion: Jewish majority, Muslim and Christian minorities. Currency: shekel. Capital (international recognition withheld as East Jerusalem was annexed (1967) by Israel: UN recognized capital: Tel Aviv): Jerusalem. Pop.: 5740000 (1998 est). Area (including Golan Heights and East Jerusalem): 21946 sq. km (8473 sq. miles)
a the ancient kingdom of the 12 Hebrew tribes at the SE end of the Mediterranean
b the kingdom in the N part of this region formed by the ten northern tribes of Israel in the 10th century b.c. and destroyed by the Assyrians in 721 b.c.
3 Informal the Jewish community throughout the world
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