Israel Religion

Israel is defined as a Jewish state – at the same time religious freedom prevails. State and religion should be separate – at the same time, authorities in orthodox faith have the exclusive right to approve marriage and divorce. In recent years, strictly religious groups have increased their influence.

Four-fifths of Israel’s population can be called Jews, but the view of who may call themselves a Jew is not clear. The National State Act of 2018 which defines the country as Jewish has highlighted that there are several different definitions. In civil courts, for example, in immigration cases, more generous rules are applied than under strict religious law (see below).

Israel Population Forecast

Almost all Jews in Israel identify as belonging to one of four main groups: haredim (ultra-orthodox), datim (religious), masortim (traditional) and hilonim (secular). In a survey conducted by Pew Research Center 2016, the secular group was by far the largest, 49 percent. One-tenth of all Israelis are ultra-Orthodox, but they make up a much larger proportion – one third – of the Israelis living on the West Bank, which Israel calls Judea and Samaria. The ultra-Orthodox families have on average more children than others and their share of the population is growing.

The modern Israeli state was designed by secular Jews, mainly from Europe and with left-wing ideology. Despite the ultra-Orthodox rabbis (priests), the state gave formal exclusive right to interpret halakha, religious law. Changes in marital status must be registered with religious courts, where orthodox rules apply. The over-rabbinate does not accept decisions made in the more liberal directions called Reform Judaism and Conservative Judaism (read more about the influence of the over-rabbinate in social conditions).

For the rabbinate, anyone who wants to call themselves a Jew must have a Jewish mother or convert according to Orthodox principles. According to the law that gives the right to return – to immigrate to Israel – it is enough to be the grandson of a Jew. Of all immigrants to Israel in 2018, only 39 percent were considered Jews by definition of the rabbi.

The different principles create difficult conditions for people belonging to other Jewish orientations. They can obtain permission to immigrate, but do not automatically get marriage and divorce approved. Many immigrants from Russia, about 15 percent of the population, have to go back more than one step in the family to find their Jewish misery, and they also do not live according to Jewish food rules, kosher, which means, among other things, that you do not eat pork..

  • Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in Israel, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.

There are some instances where well-known people, notably the linguist Uzzi Ornan and the author Yoram Kaniuk, have fought for not having to identify themselves as Jews, but less ethnically and religiously marked alternatives such as “Israel” have not been given the go-ahead. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that it did not have the power to introduce new identity categories. Many secular Jews – people who are not active believers but observe traditions such as Jewish weekend celebrations – oppose the definition to be religious at all.

Israeli law says that the state should work to support even Jews living in the diaspora, outside Israel. But the ultra-Orthodox rabbis have in recent years fought against authorities in other fields. It causes hassle not least for Jews living abroad. In the US, where there is a large group with strong ties to Israel, the majority of Jews belong to the more liberal orientations.

In recent years, ultra-Orthodox parties have been part of the country’s coalition governments. The rabbis have thereby gained more political power. The ultra-Orthodox parties often have a strained relationship with the Supreme Court, which has sought to limit the privileges of the ultra-Orthodox. At the same time, several attempts to restrict the independence of the court have been made by political parties. Tensions between religious and secular Israelis are strongest in Jerusalem. The conflict can, for example, be about what kind of traffic is allowed during the rest day, the Sabbath (Friday evening to Saturday evening). In recent years, a group called anusim has begun to pay attention: people who feel compelled to live according to ultra-orthodox principles, but do not dare to depart from the strict rules outward.

Under Israeli law, it is punishable to give support to those who are actively trying to persuade someone to change religion. Israel enjoys the support of evangelical movements in the United States, but reacted sharply in 2020 when a US-based evangelical TV channel began broadcasting in Hebrew in Israel. Content perceived as Christian missionary targeting Jews is inadmissible and, in this case, led to an investigation by the Israel Radio and Television Authority.

Among the Arabs in Israel there are three religious groups: Muslims, Christians and Druze. The Sunni Muslims are the largest group. The Drusians, whose religion emerged as an offshoot of Shiite Islam, is the smallest. More than half of the 160,000 Christians state that they profess to be one of the Catholic communities. The biggest is the Melkite Church (Greek Catholic).



17-year-old is shot to death on the West Bank

A 17-year-old boy is shot to death by Israeli soldiers on the West Bank. The young man is said to have participated in stone throwing against the vehicles of the Israelis. In another incident, two Palestinian youths were shot, who should have thrown something suspected to have been an explosive charge against an army posting.

Netanyhau is appointed prime ministerial candidate

Netanyhau is named Likud’s prime ministerial candidate in the upcoming elections. The Labor Party is still slightly higher than Likud in opinion polls, while Netanyahu is considered to have the greatest chances of finding coalition brothers.

The Palestinians start the process of joining the ICC

Palestinians fail to get the UN Security Council to pass a resolution calling on Israel to withdraw its forces from occupied Palestinian territories by the end of 2017. Nine votes are required for but only eight countries vote for it, including France. The US and Australia vote against while five countries abstain, including the UK. Israel expresses its disappointment at the actions of France and the United Kingdom. A few days later, the Palestinians initiate a process to join the International Criminal Court ICC which can prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The purpose is to put Israel in charge of the Palestinians killed by Israeli violence. Israel condemns the measure and points out that Palestinians may be prosecuted in that case. The process begins with Abbas signing the ICC’s basic treaty. Israel punishes Abbas by withholding customs and VAT revenue that Israel collects for Palestinian self-government. Taxes make up two-thirds of the Palestinian budget. Israel’s decision is condemned by the US and the EU.

The Shas party is shattered

The ultra-Orthodox party Shas shatters when a former party leader breaks out and founds a new party, Ha’am Itanu (The Nation is with us). Along with the extreme religious right-wing party Otzma Yehuit (Jewish force), Ha’am Itanu forms the Alliance of Yahad (Together).

Setback for Yisrael Beiteinu

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s party Yisrael Beiteinu suffers a major setback before the election when the police seize twenty people who are believed to be involved in a major corruption scandal. Around twelve of those arrested are high-ranking members of Yisrael Beiteinu, including two former ministers.

Two air strikes against Gaza

Israel launches two air strikes against Gaza and kills one militant Palestinian. The attack occurs after a missile is fired at southern Israel from Gaza and an Israeli soldier is shot dead at the border.

Luxembourg votes for recognition of Palestine

Luxembourg’s parliament votes for the country to recognize Palestine as a state.

New Valallians are expected to win over Likud

The Workers’ Party and Hatnua form a Alliance called the Zionist Union. Opinion polls indicate that the new alliance may win more mandates than Likud.

Palestinian minister dies after confrontation with Israeli security forces

A minister in the Palestinian government dies after a confrontation with Israeli security forces on the West Bank. The event is expected to aggravate the already tense situation between Israelis and Palestinians, and Israel is strengthening its units on the West Bank. The minister had participated in a demonstration that ended in a clash with Israeli soldiers. At one point, a soldier grabbed the minister’s collar and pushed him back. Shortly thereafter, the minister fell to the ground and died. The body was examined by Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli pathologists. The Palestinian side claimed that the minister died of suffocation and blows, while Israel’s conclusion was that the minister had an underlying heart disease that was triggered by stress during the demonstration.

Syria accuses Israel of air strikes

Syria accuses Israel of having carried out several air strikes near the Syrian capital, including the international airport. Israel usually does not confirm or deny reports of this kind, but states in a comment that the country does not allow sophisticated weapons to fall into the hands of its enemies. In the past, Israel has attacked Syrian territory to stop suspected arms shipments to the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.

Widened cooperation following legislative proposals in the US House of Representatives

The US House of Representatives votes for a bill that makes Israel one of America’s “most important strategic partners” and broadens cooperation between the countries in defense, security, energy and research and more. By law, the United States declares its “irrevocable support” for Israel as a Jewish state. The US will also have the opportunity to increase its weapons stockpile in Israel. The Senate has previously passed the bill, which is now moving on to President Obama for signing.

French Parliament votes for recognition of Palestine

The French Parliament votes for Palestine to be recognized as a state. The result of the vote is not binding on the French government. Israel reiterates its position that unilateral declarations of this kind hamper the opportunities for peace with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu announces new elections

The government crisis is a fact when Netanyahu declares he wants new elections. The Knesset begins the process of dissolving itself, and the date for the new election is set for March 17, 2015.

Growing disagreement within the government

Disagreement within the government is growing. The contradictions do not only apply to the proposed law on the Jewish character of Israel (see above). The parties also find it difficult to agree on a budget for 2015. Netanyahu opposes Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s plan to exempt first-time housing and demand, among other things, more money for the defense. The wear and tear results in many long and more or less public quarrels. Netanyahu dismisses Yasir Lapid and Justice Minister Tipzi Livni, who among others accused Netanyahu of failing to fight terrorism and of being extreme and paranoid. Netanyahu, for his part, says that Lapid’s and Livni’s actions can be compared to a coup and says it is impossible to rule the country with the ruling coalition.

Knife attack near settlement in the South West Bank

A Palestinian woman is cutting a Israelis slightly injured. The assault takes place near a Jewish settlement on the southern West Bank. The woman is shot by police and injured but survives.


A new party is formed

A popular former Likud minister Moshe Kahlon founded a new center-right party called Kulanu (Allihopa).

Various details of the shooting death in Gaza

Israeli forces kill a Palestinian farmer in the buffer zone set up by Israel south of the border between Israel and Gaza. The shooting of death is the first in Gaza since the summer war. A bill on the detention of illegal immigrants is approved by the Israeli government. The proposal should allow them to be detained. The Supreme Court has previously rejected similar laws (see September 2013, December 2013 and September 2014). Before the bill becomes reality, it must be up for vote in the kness.

The government approves controversial bill

The Israeli government approves a controversial bill that emphasizes the Jewish character of the country. According to the law, intended to be one of the basic laws of the country, Israel is to be defined as “the Jewish homeland of the Jewish people” rather than as “Jewish and democratic” in the past. Only Jews should be entitled to national symbols while Arabic will lose official language status. The proposal causes fierce controversy within the government and the center parties Yesh Atid and Hatnua vote against. Israeli lawyers and the country’s president also say it is unnecessary, provocative and also means permanent discrimination against the country’s Arab minority. Netanyahu emphasizes that “the character of Israel as the Jewish people’s national homeland” is being threatened from several quarters, not just by the Palestinians. Critical votes claim that Netanyahu only supports the proposal to win votes with hard-partying comrades. The bill is forwarded to the Kness for voting. Netanyahu also announces that assailants who have a residence permit in Israel and their relatives should be deprived of their rights.

Acceptance of new settlements provokes criticism

In the midst of the unrest, the Jerusalem authorities approve the construction of 78 housing for Jewish settlers in the Arab eastern part of the city. Earlier this month, a planning committee announced that 200 new homes will be built there. The plans attract criticism, including from the United States. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says Israel will never find any restriction on the right to build housing in East Jerusalem.

Spanish yes to Palestine

The Spanish Parliament votes almost unanimously for Spain to recognize Palestine. However, the vote is only advisory to the government.

Violence escalates in West Jerusalem

The violence escalates when two Palestinians from East Jerusalem attack a synagogue in West Jerusalem during the morning prayer. Armed with knives, guns and meat axes, the assailants kill four rabbis and a policeman before being shot to death. The attack is the bloodiest in Jerusalem in six years. Prime Minister Netanyahu promises to fight back and “win the war on Jerusalem”. The radical Palestinian group The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claims to be behind the attack. Hamaspraises the deed, which is also celebrated on the streets of Gaza where Hamas rules. Palestinian President Abbas on the West Bank condemns the attack and, in particular, the fact that it was targeted at praying people. Israel is punishing Palestinian families by demolishing their homes. This method of punishment basically ceased after 2005 when an Army committee ruled that demolitions did not deter potential attackers. A government spokesman now says that the method can be effective if applied without delay. Critics argue that the measure is only intended to calm public opinion, and claims that it contravenes legal and democratic principles and restricts hatred between the peoples.

The turmoil in Jerusalem is on fire

The turmoil in Jerusalem gets new fuel when a Palestinian taxi driver is found hanged beside his car in West Jerusalem. According to police, this is a suicide, but the driver’s family excludes this statement and claims it must be murder.

Young Palestinians are shot to death on the West Bank

In an incident on the West Bank, a young Palestinian is shot dead. According to the military, he was one of 150 protesters who attacked the army and passing cars with stones and fire bombs.

Two attacks against Israelis

A young Israeli soldier is killed in a knife attack outside a Tel Aviv train station. Police say the perpetrator is a West Bank Palestinian who is in Israel illegally. On the same day, a young Israeli woman was stabbed to death by a Palestinian at a bus station outside a settlement on the West Bank.

The Minister for the Environment leaves his post in protest

Environment Minister Amir Peretz leaves his post in protest of government policy. Peretz says the state is falling apart in all areas – social, diplomatic and economic. He also criticizes the fact that no progress has been made in the process of reaching peace with the Palestinians.

Unrest after police shooting

A 22-year-old Israeli Arab is shot dead in northern Israel as he armed with a knife tries to prevent the police from arresting a relative. Police say he was killed after police fired multiple warning shots, but a film from a surveillance camera contradicts the police version. The film shows that the 22-year-old attacks a police car with a knife but that he then runs away and is then shot in the back by a police officer. The shooting of death leads to unrest and demonstrations among Arabs all over Israel. Over twenty people are arrested and brought to trial for riots.

Concern between Israel and Jordan

Jordan takes home its ambassador in protest of continued unrest around Temple Mount. Israeli security forces are accused of using “illegal” much violence in the holy place during their attempts to stop stone-throwing Palestinians. Prime Minister Netanyahu assures Jordan’s King Abdullah that Israel does not intend to change the law prohibiting Jews from praying on Temple Mount. Jordan’s ambassador to Israel returns in February 2015.

Attacks in East Jerusalem

A Palestinian runs into a crowd in East Jerusalem, killing two Israelis, a teenage student and a border police. At least eight people are injured. The assailant is shot dead when he gets out of the car and starts attacking police with an iron pipe. Hamas takes on the blame for the act.

Amnesty criticizes Israel

The human rights organization Amnesty International criticized in a report Israel’s warfare during the summer conflict in Gaza. Amnesty accuses Israel of showing a “shocking lack of respect” for civilian life during the conflict. Amnesty lists eight cases where Israeli aircraft bombed civilian targets without warning. The organization also criticizes the Palestinian side for committing war crimes when it attacked and killed civilians by thousands of missiles. The Israeli government accuses Amnesty of lacking evidence for its claims and says the report is a propaganda tool for Hamas.

Blocked against Gaza is somewhat eased

Israel eases slightly on the blockade of Gaza by allowing some exports and cucumbers and fish to the West Bank. It is the first time since 2007 that fish from Gaza are sent to the West Bank.

Calls on the government to make lasting peace with the Palestinians;

Over a hundred former high-ranking military, police officers and spy commanders in a letter are calling on the government to achieve lasting peace with the Palestinians. They believe that they themselves have taken great risks and made great sacrifices to secure the future of their children and grandchildren, but they now see that the violence only continues and that even their children are forced into war.

Easier to convert to Judaism

The government approves a new law that will make it easier to convert to Judaism. Previously, those who wanted to convert could only turn to four state-controlled conversion courts. Now the chief rabbi in each city should have the right to establish and preside over such a court.


Unrest around Temple Mount

A Palestinian who is suspected of seriously shooting an ultra-nationalist rabbi in Jerusalem has been shot dead by police trying to arrest him. After the shooting, Israel shuts off the Temple Mount area, which has been the center of unrest for several weeks. The turmoil is fueled by rumors that Israel intends to change a law that prohibits Jews from praying or engaging in other religious activities on Temple Mount, which is one of Islam’s holiest sites. The shotgun rabbi is an active advocate for changing the law, and the police are calling the attack on him for attempted murder. The closure of the Temple Mount triggers a scream of terror among the Palestinians, and Palestinian President Abbas is similar to the decision in a “declaration of war”. The area opens again before the Friday prayer the following day.

Israel calls ambassador after Swedish decision on recognition of Palestine

The Swedish government’s decision to recognize Palestine on October 30 is regretted by Israel. The Israeli government says, among other things, that Sweden’s actions reduce the chances of a peace settlement as it gives the Palestinians unrealistic hopes that they will be able to get their own state without having to negotiate. Israel also calls home its ambassador from Sweden. Sweden is the first EU country to recognize Palestine. Although Poland and a few other eastern countries have recognized Palestine, it happened long before they joined the EU. Earlier in October, the British lower house had voted for Britain to recognize Palestine, but the vote was not binding and was not expected to affect the British government. In October, the Irish Senate also made such a decision.

Criticism against decisions on new settlements

The government gives the go ahead to build more than 1,000 new homes in East Jerusalem. A Palestinian government spokesman describes the decision as a “dangerous escalation” that risks triggering a political “earthquake”. Jordan, who says that the peace agreement with Israel is threatened by the continued expansion of Jewish settlements, calls for an extra meeting with the UN Security Council. Among other things, the EU and the US criticize Israel’s decision, but Prime Minister Netanyahu dismisses the criticism as “alien to reality” and says it is the criticism that holds the peace “because it attracts Palestinians to false statements”.

Car driving into crowd in East Jerusalem

A three-month-old baby and a woman are killed when a Palestinian drives a high-speed car straight into a crowd at a tram station on the border between West and East Jerusalem. The Palestinian is shot by police as he tries to escape and later dies from his injuries. This is the second incident in his team this fall. In August, an Israeli was killed when a Palestinian hit a bus with an excavator.

The government hopes to reduce government debt through the sale of state-owned enterprises

The government announces plans to sell all or part of a number of state-owned companies for private interests. Some of the companies that will be sold out entirely include some military industries as well as the ports of Haifa and Ashdod. Through the sale, the state hopes to reduce the government debt.

Green light for new settlements

Plans to build more than 2,600 new homes for settlers in East Jerusalem are given green light. The decision is condemned by the EU and the US.


Law is rejected by the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court rejects the law passed in December 2013 that allowed the authorities to detain illegal immigrants for a year without their cases being tried. The court also orders that a detention camp for immigrants be closed within ninety days.

Two Palestinians are shot dead when arrested

Two Palestinians suspected of murdering three Israeli teenagers over the summer are shot to death as Israeli military attempts to arrest them in Hebron. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Finance Minister Lapid agree on defense spending to be raised. The Ministry of Defense receives approximately US $ 2 billion to cover the costs of the summer war in Gaza. In next year’s budget, the defense will receive an additional allocation of SEK 1.6 billion, to a total of $ 15.6 billion. Lapid has for several weeks opposed the demands of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense. Their calculations of how much the Gaza war cost differ greatly. The settlement means that the budget deficit for 2015 is estimated at 3.4 percent of GDP. The central bank has said that a deficit of more than 3 percent would undermine the world’s confidence in the government.

Syrian fighter jet is shot down

Israel shoots down a Syrian fighter plane at the Israel-Syria standstill at the Golan Heights occupied by Israel in the six-day war of 1967. Rebels, including groups affiliated with the al-Qaeda terror network, have occupied the Syrian area closest to the standstill line and Syrian aircraft are bombing. Israel flies over Israeli territory. It is the first time in three decades that Israel is shooting down an Syrian plane. The incident prompted protests from Syria accusing Israel of supporting the rebels.

Unrest after shooting

22 Palestinians are arrested in East Jerusalem where protests have been going on and on since the murder of an Arab teenager in early July. The protests are renewed on September 7, when a Palestinian teenager dies after being shot by Israeli soldiers.

Decisions on seizure of land provoke reactions

The Israeli government decides to seize 400 acres of Palestinian land near Bethlehem. The Peace Now Peace Movement describes it as the largest land expropriation in 30 years. The intention is stated to be to greatly expand a small Jewish settlement. That decision is currently being made, according to Israeli radio, a response to the murders of three Israeli youths in the area in June. Both Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni criticize the land confiscation.


Permanent ceasefire is concluded

August 26th

When the fighting has been raging for seven weeks, a permanent ceasefire is entered into. In the framework of the agreement, Israel promises to open the borders to Gaza for aid and building materials. According to Palestinian sources, the border with Egypt should also be opened and the Palestinian fishing zone outside Gaza expanded. The agreement also secures salary payments via Palestinian banks to all government employees. All major battle issues are delayed for the future and the parties agree that talks about these should begin within one month. For HamasPart of it is about the requirement to build a harbor and build an airport and to get a number of prisoners released. Israel, for its part, wants assurances that the radical groups in Gaza will be disarmed. Both sides claim to have left the conflict with great victory. In Gaza, the agreement is greeted with scenes of joy on the streets. More than 2,100 Palestinians have been killed during the conflict. The majority of them are civilians, including several hundred children. More than 400,000 Palestinians have fled their homes in areas targeted by Israeli attacks. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and 7 civilians have lost their lives. In total, Israel has conducted over 5,200 air strikes against Gaza, while militant Palestinians have fired over 4,500 missiles or grenades over Israel.


The UN calls for a ceasefire

July 28

The UN Security Council calls on Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza to enter into a ceasefire over the Muslim festival of al-Fitr, which begins on the same day. The statement includes talks on the future of Gaza, including relief in the blockade Israel has maintained against Gaza since 2007. The Palestinians are calling for a resolution calling for Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Israelis criticize the Security Council for not mentioning Hamas rocket fire on Israel. Already after a day, the shooting resumes. Prime Minister Netanyahu says Israel will not give up until the tunnels from northern Gaza into Israel are destroyed.

Field offensive begins

July 17

After nine days of mutual gunfire between Israel and Gaza, Israeli forces launch a ground offensive. Israeli soldiers and tanks enter Gaza to chase militant Palestinians on the ground and destroy tunnels that Palestinians have dug from Gaza to enter and carry out attacks in Israel. Several such attacks are stopped by the Israeli military.

Murder of Arab teen trigger war

July 1st

The day after the funeral of the three murdered Israelis, an Arab teenager is kidnapped and murdered in East Jerusalem. Injuries to the body indicate that the youngster has been burned to death alive. The incident causes riots and at least 35 people are injured. Prime Minister Netanyahu condemns the murder and promises to do everything possible to find the guilty. A few weeks later, a 29-year-old settler from the West Bank and two 16-year-olds are charged with the act. The defendants come from the same family. The event leads to increased tension at the Israeli-Gaza border. Israel is being fired by over a thousand missiles from Gaza and this time it is not only southern Israel that is being hit. At least one missile strikes outside Jerusalem and several are shot down above Tel Aviv by Israel’s missile defense Iron Dome. The Israeli defense is responding with extensive air strikes to targets in Gaza. The Armed Forces also call in reservists and gather forces at the border.


Three Israeli teenagers are kidnapped and murdered

Three Israeli teenagers are kidnapped on the West Bank and found just over two weeks later dead. During the extensive search effort, about 500 Palestinians are arrested and at least five Palestinians are shot dead. Israel accuses Hamas of being behind the killings and promises to strike back. When this happens, Hamas refuses to have anything to do with it. A few weeks later, Hamas management announces that a group from the organization carried out the murders on their own initiative, without the leaders knowing the matter.

Israel condemns Palestinian unity government

Israel condemns the formation of a Palestinian unity government.


The former prime minister is sentenced to 6 years in prison

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is sentenced to six years in prison for bribery in connection with the construction of a residential complex in Jerusalem during Olmert’s time as mayor of the city. Olmertz appeals against the verdict and requests to be released on bail until the appeal process is complete.


Peace talks are suspended after reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas

Israel cancels peace talks when rival Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas conclude a reconciliation agreement at the end of the month. According to the agreement, Fatah and Hamas, which since 2007 ruled each part of the Palestinian territories, will now form a joint government pending elections that will be held among Palestinians within six months. Prime Minister Netanyahu condemns the agreement, saying that Palestinian President Abbas now has to choose between Hamas and Israel if he wants peace. Hamas does not recognize the existence of Israel and has opposed all thoughts of peace.

Israeli police are shot to death

An Israeli police officer is shot to death by a sniper on the West Bank while on his way home in his car.

Guilt is placed on Israel for delayed peace talks

Kerry lays the greatest blame for the talks being jammed to Israel and the continued expansion of settlements.

Try to strengthen the position of the Palestinians in the UN

President Abbas is embarking on a process to strengthen the position of Palestinian self-government within the UN by applying as a state for accession to a number of international conventions. Israel responds by canceling a promised release of prisoners and launching a tender process for the construction of over 700 new homes in the Jewish settlement of Gilo in East Jerusalem. Israel also withholds tax revenue that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinians.


Elevated threshold for entry into the knee

The threshold for entering the kness is raised from 2 to 3.25 percent of the vote.

The former prime minister is convicted of bribery

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is convicted of bribery in connection with the construction of a large housing complex in Jerusalem. Altogether, 16 people are charged with corruption, described as one of the worst in Israeli history. Olmert’s sentence will be announced later. This is the second time in two years that Olmert will face trial (see July 2012).

The US Secretary of State is trying to save the peace process

US Secretary of State Kerry interrupts a trip to Europe to come to the region and try to prevent a threatening collapse in the peace process, due to disagreement over the fourth and final round of prisoners to be released (see July 2013). Israel is on release, citing no progress in negotiations, and calls for the Palestinians to first agree to an extension of talks beyond the original deadline set on April 29. Another of the stumbling blocks is the demand made by Prime Minister Netanyahu: that the Palestinians should recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

The army is criticized by the human rights organization

The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem criticizes the army for having earlier in the month fired sharp fire at some innocent Palestinian youths on the West Bank and killed one of them. According to B’Tselem, the teenagers were only out to pick up thistles, while the army claims that the youths have joined the security barrier between Israel and the West Bank.

Strike the Foreign Ministry

A conflict over salaries and conditions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs causes the staff to go on strike which also includes employees at the country’s embassies. It is said to be the first time in the country’s history that diplomats strike.

Construction of new homes in East Jerusalem

The government finally approves the construction of over 180 new Jewish homes in annexed East Jerusalem. At the same time, plans are underway to build 2,300 new houses in Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Four Palestinians are killed in fear of suspected terrorist

At least four Palestinians are shot dead and 14 injured by security forces in connection with a raid on a refugee camp in Jenin on the West Bank. The Israelis were in search of a member of the radical Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which was suspected of planning attacks on Israeli targets. The suspect was one of those killed.

Air strikes after Israeli soldiers are injured by bombs

Four Israeli soldiers are injured by a bomb as they approach a fence at the demilitarized zone between Syria and Israel at the Golan Heights. Israel is avenged by air strikes against several of the Syrian army’s posts across the border. One person is killed in the Israeli attacks.

Extensive shootings between Israel and Gaza

In the middle of the month, the most extensive Israeli-Gaza shooting breaks out in two years. In a few days, militant Palestinians send more than 60 rockets to southern Israel, and Israelis respond with more than 30 air strikes to targets in Gaza. The shooting starts from the Palestinian side in retaliation for Israel having previously killed three Palestinian activists. According to the Israelis, the three had fired rockets at Israel. Despite the fiery fire, no deaths are reported.

Israeli attack on Hezbollah militia posts

Israel attacks one of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia’s posts at the Syria-Lebanon border.

New law on military service for ultra-Orthodox Jews leads to demonstrations

Hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews are demonstrating against a bill that will get more of them to do military service or community service (see also February 2012). Later in the month, the bill will come into force. The ultra-Orthodox will be called in increasing numbers in the coming years. In 2017, the number will correspond to 60 percent of the men in the relevant age group. If this goal is not achieved, all ultra-Orthodox young men should then be convened except for a quota of “specially gifted” students.

Palestinian woman shot dead at border with Gaza

Israeli forces kill a woman who is at the fence between Israel and Gaza. Israel has established a security zone on the Palestinian side of the fence and is shooting at people who come too close. According to Palestinian sources, the woman suffered from mental illness and it was unclear why she was in the zone.


Israeli bombing of Hezbollah’s strongholds in Lebanon

Lebanese security sources say Israel bombed one of Hezbollah’s strongholds on the Lebanon-Syria border. If the information is correct, according to the AFP news agency, it is the first time Israel has bombed targets in Lebanon since the summer of 2006. According to an Israeli security source, the target was a missile transport. The missile in question could carry significantly more powerful charges than those previously sent by Hezbollah across the border to Israel. Four people are said to have lost their lives in the attack and Hezbollah promises to take revenge.

Palestinian man shot at border with Gaza

A Palestinian man is shot to death near the Gaza-Israel fence. According to the man’s relatives, he had only devoted himself to collecting gravel to sell. Israeli authorities stated that the shooter led a group of men who had joined the fence.

Permits for new homes in settlements receive criticism

The Jerusalem City Council authorizes the construction of a total of 500 new homes in three settlements in the annexed East Jerusalem. The permits are criticized by the peace movement Peace Now, which states that, since the peace talks with the Palestinians began in late summer 2013, Israel has drawn up plans for the construction of more than 7,300 new homes in settlements; 4880 on the West Bank and 2422 in East Jerusalem.


Two missile attacks against a tourist resort in Israel

The tourist resort of Eilat is subjected to two missile attacks. In one case, the missile strikes on the outskirts of the city but causes no damage. In the second case, it is shot down by Israel’s missile defense Iron Dome. An Islamist group in Egypt claims to be behind the attacks and threatens more.

Demonstrations after the shooting

In January, two young Palestinians were also killed. A 16-year-old dies from his injuries after being shot in the leg during a demonstration at the Israel-Gaza fence. According to Israel, the protesters had been violent and threatened the border guards with stones and burning tires. At the West Bank, a 19-year-old loses his life in a shooting drama. Israel states that the Palestinians had opened fire on Israeli soldiers while witnesses say he was unarmed. The incident on the West Bank causes hundreds of Palestinians to go out and demonstrate, which ends with a violent confrontation with Israeli security forces. Ten Palestinians are shot dead. In another incident at the Gaza-Israel fence, five Palestinians were shot dead.

Islamist killed in flight

A member of Islamic Jihad is killed in an Israeli air raid in Gaza and the organization promises revenge by resuming its suicide bombings in Israel.

New law prohibits, inter alia, symbols associated with Nazism and the Holocaust

The Knesset in a first reading adopts a bill that makes it forbidden to use the word nazi or variants of it. The law also prohibits the use of symbols of the Holocaust, such as prison suits from the concentration camps and the stars of David, as well as Nazi symbols. Exceptions are made for situations related to education or history writing. Critics of the bill believe that it is a threat to freedom of speech. Before it gains legal force, the bill must be considered several times in the kness.

The Minister of Defense apologizes for the statement

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon is forced to apologize to the United States for saying that US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is engaged in intensive diplomacy between Israelis and Palestinians, is “obsessed” with the peace process and seems to work as if he “felt like a Messiah”.

Unrest in connection with burial of former prime minister

The controversial former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dies on January 11 after lying in a coma for eight years after a brain haemorrhage. He is buried at his ranch in the Negev Desert. An area near the ranch is being fired by Gaza missiles at the funeral, and Israel is responding by bombing two training camps for militant Palestinians in Gaza. In the middle of the month, new shootings occur across the border.

Information on plans for new settlements on the West Bank

The Peace Movement Fred Now states on January 10 that the Ministry of Housing announced that 1,800 new homes will be built in existing settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. The initiative is seen by the Palestinians as an attempt to torpedo the peace process. Later in the month, the government will make more proposals for construction projects in settlements. According to the plans, almost 2,800 new homes will be constructed in total.

Various details of Israeli drone attack

Palestinians in Gaza say a man was killed in an Israeli attack with drones (driverless aircraft). The Israeli army denies the information.

Israel answers Gaza missile

A Gaza missile lands in southern Israel and Israeli aircraft respond by bombing Gaza rocket launchers.

Israel Religion

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