On November 29th 1947 UN resolution 181 was approved by 33 votes in favor, 13 votes against, with 10 abstentions. The resolution known as the Palestine partition plan, allocated 48% of Palestine for the creation of Israel, the other 48% of the land was allocated to the Palestinians and 4% which was Jerusalem was designated as international territory. Upon the implementation of Resolution 181 on May 15th 1948 the state of Israel was established.
Israel's history is marred by conflict. It was attacked on its first day of independence by no less than five Arab armies who objected to its creation. This war known as the independence war lasted one and half years and cost Israel dearly both economically and in terms of lives. The end of the independence war only brought a ceasefire agreement and therefore hostility felt by Israel's neighbours continued. This hostility manifested itself in numerous attacks by Arab Armies and Arab militant groups against Israel's civilians and Armed forces which caused many casualties. As many such Arab groups openly stated that their intention was "to drive the Jews into the sea", Israel's response to the attackers entailed destruction of their military and economic targets. In later years as attacks continued Israel started to apply a new preventative strategy which called for the occupation of parts the enemy's territory which is used to launch attack against Israel. In majority of cases this method succeeded in reducing attacks, however it infuriated the Arab public. Furthermore the occupation of land by Israel was viewed as illegal in accordance to UN and international law.
Fifty six years and six wars after its establishment, Israel has captured and returned land from its former impeccable foes Jordan and Egypt as part of separate peace deals. Israel also returned Lebanese territory in the year 2000. The land was occupied due to ferocious attacks against Israeli citizens from Lebanese territory. The withdrawal from Lebanon was a unilateral move in accordance to UN resolution 425. Israel still continues to occupy land owned by Palestinians (West Bank and Gaza) and Syrians (the Golan heights). The Israeli motives behind Israel's occupation of the aforementioned territories is that a number of Palestinian groups as well as the Syrian government are opposed to Israel's existence. Therefore return of strategic territory to them would enhance their capability to carry out their attacks Israel. Meanwhile Israel's adversaries view the equation in a reverse order whereby they state that it is Israel's occupation of their land which causes their hostility.
Israel's relations with its neighbours have also been shaped by global and regional events. In 1956, only eight years after its creation Israel entered cold war politics in the Middle East through its participation in the Suez war alongside its Western allies France and the UK against the Soviet backed Egyptian regime. Israel's security policies towards Arab states who were aligned with the USSR were on occasions influenced by the foreign policies of its French and later American allies. In return for Israel's support both France and the US supplied aid to Israel.
Israeli politics has been based on the proportional representation system, which means that selected governments have administered the country through establishment of coalitions with other political parties. The Socialist left wing of Israeli politics was the dominant force in Israeli politics from the country's independence in 1948 until just after the Yom Kippur war in 1973. The next elections in 1974 ushered in a new era of conservative and religious ideologies into Israeli politics which have since become a major political force. The democratic strength of Israeli politics has on a number of times been undermined by the political instability brought about the fragility of its coalition based system of governance.
The role of religion in Israeli politics is an important issue to address. Israel is also known as the "Jewish state" by its citizens. The country's social laws are in many ways in accordance to its Jewish foundation. However majority of Israeli politicians and citizens alike are opposed to Israel becoming a religious state altogether. Nevertheless the struggle for balance still continues today between religious and non religious parties in Israel's parliament. The agreed prognosis between majority of analysts is that the Jewish character of Israel is unlikely to be changed as it is central to the justification of the country's existence as a safe heaven for Jews fleeing persecution. Furthermore Israel enjoys immense political and financial support from the world's Jewish population and therefore the maintenance of its Jewish character is crucial in this regard. The quest to find an answer to the extent of Israel's "Jewishness" is likely to be an ongoing process for the foreseeable future. By: Meir Javedanfar