-Israelis are predominantly Jewish and the religion is a major centripetal force as is the threat of an outside force
-Palestinians are Muslims with a higher NIR and they are refugees that live within the Palestinian territories. They are ethnically Arabs
-Israel is a country in the Middle East / southwest Asia that was created after WWII. It was formerly a colony of England's and before that a part of the Ottoman empire for hundreds of years

Borders Lebanon in the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan and the West Bank in the east, the Gaza Strip and Egypt on the southwest, and contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Israel is the world's only predominantly Jewish state, with a population of 7.5 million people, of whom 5.7 million are Jewish. Arab citizens of Israel form the country's second-largest ethnic group, which includes Muslims.

The Land of Israel, known in Hebrew as Eretz Yisrael, has been sacred to the Jewish people since Biblical times. According to the Torah, God promised the Land of Israel to the three Patriarchs of the Jewish people

Between the time of the Israelite kingdoms and the 7th-century Muslim conquests, the Land of Israel fell under Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Sassanian, and Byzantine rule.

Jewish presence in the region dwindled during the Roman Empire in 132 CE.

The Jewish diaspora is the English term used to describe the several forced expulsions of Israelites from what is now the states of Israel, Jordan and parts of Lebanon.

Jews started returning to the area in the 1800s because of the pogroms in eastern Europe and then continued to return with the advent of WWII and the holocaust.

In 1947, the British government withdrew from the Mandate of Palestine, stating it was unable to arrive at a solution acceptable to both Arabs and Jews.

The newly created United Nations approved the Partition Plan for Palestine (United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181) on November 29, 1947, which sought to divide the country into two states one Arab and one Jewish.

Jerusalem was to be designated an international city a corpus separatum administered by the UN

After WWI, the area of modern day Israel became a colony under British rule.

In November 1947, the United Nations voted in favor of the partition of Palestine, proposing the creation of a Jewish state, an Arab state, and a UN-administered Jerusalem.
-Partition was accepted by Zionist leaders but rejected by Arab leaders, leading to civil war.
-Israel declared independence on 14 May 1948 and neighboring Arab states attacked the next day.
-Since then, Israel has fought a series of wars with neighboring Arab states, and in consequence occupies territories, including the West Bank and Gaza Strip, beyond those delineated in the 1949 Armistice Agreements.
-Israel has signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, but efforts to resolve conflict with the Palestinians have so far only met with limited success and some of Israel's international borders remain in dispute.

In the years after WWII, many refugees and holocaust survivors fled Europe and the population of Israel rose from 800,000 to two million between 1948 and 1958.

Conflicts with Arab Neighbors
You do not need to know about these in any depth
The violent confrontations which appear in this list were recognized as wars by the Defense Minister of Israel:

* 1948 War of Independence (November 1947 - July 1949), In its conclusion, a set of agreements were signed between Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria called the 1949 Armistice Agreements which established the armistice lines between Israel and the West Bank, also known as the Green Line.

* The Sinai War (October 1956) - a military attack on Egypt by Britain, France, and Israel beginning on 29 October 1956 with the intention to occupy the Sinai Peninsula and to take over the Suez Canal.

* Six-Day War (June 1967) - fought between Israel and Arab neighbors Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. The nations of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Algeria also contributed troops and arms to the Arab forces. ''Following the war the territory held by Israel expanded significantly ("The Purple Line") : The West Bank, Golan Heights and Sinai were occupied from Jordan, Syria and Egypt, respectively.
* War of Attrition (1968-1970) - a limited war fought between the Israeli military and forces of the Egyptian Republic, the USSR and the Palestine Liberation Organization from 1967 to 1970. The hostilities ended with a ceasefire signed between the countries in 1970 with frontiers remaining in the same place as when the war began.

* Yom Kippur War (October 1973) - fought from October 6 to October 26, 1973 by a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria against Israel as a way of recapturing part of the territories which they lost to the Israelis back in the Six-Day? War.

* First Lebanon War (1982) - began in 6 June 1982, Due to the constant terror attacks on northern Israel made by the Palestinian guerilla organizations which resided in Lebanon.

* Second Lebanon War (summer 2006) - began as military operation in response to the abduction of two Israeli reserve soldiers by the Hezbollah. The conflict started on 12 July 2006, and continued until a United Nations-brokered ceasefire went into effect on 14 August 2006, though it formally ended on 8 September 2006 when Israel lifted its naval blockade of Lebanon.

The Palestinians
Five groups of people consider themselves Palestinian:
-people living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967
-Israelis who are Muslim
-people who fled the area as a result of the wars
-Citizens of neighboring countries sometimes identify themselves as Palestinian if they have origins to the area of Palestin / Israel (Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia

Many Palestinians are members of the PLO or Hamas. Both organizations seek the independence of Palestine but Hamas is more militant and does not recognize the right of Israel to exist. The U.S. and the U.N. consider Hamas to be a terrorist organization.

The Conflict

Following Israel's capture of additional territories (due to the wars), settlements consisting of Israeli citizens were established within each of them.

Israel has applied civilian law to the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, incorporating them into its territory and offering their inhabitants permanent residency status and the possibility to become full citizen if they asked it.

In contrast, the West Bank has remained under military occupation, and it and the Gaza Strip are seen by the Palestinians and most of the international community as the site of a future Palestinian state.

The UN Security Council has declared the incorporation of the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem to be "null and void" and continues to view the territories as occupied.

The West Bank was occupied by Israel in 1967. The population are mainly Arab Palestinians, including refugees of the 1948 Arab-Israeli? War. From their occupation in 1967 until 1993, the Palestinians living in these territories were under Israeli military administration. Since the Israel-PLO letters of recognition, most of the Palestinian population and cities have been under the internal jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, and only partial Israeli military control, although Israel has on several occasions redeployed its troops and reinstated full military administration during periods of unrest.

In response to increasing attacks as part of the Second Intifada, the Israeli government started to construct the Israeli West Bank barrier, which is partially built within the West Bank.

The Gaza strip was occupied by Egypt from 1948 to 1967 and then by Israel from 1967 to 2005. In 2005, as part of Israel's unilateral disengagement plan, Israel removed all of its residents and forces from the territory. However, Israel still controls Gaza's airspace and sea access and has on occasion sent troops into the area.

Gaza has a border with Egypt and an agreement between Israel, the EU, the PA and Egypt governed how border crossing would take place (it was monitored by European observers), However the election of a Hamas government has led to problems in implementing it resulting in the border crossing being closed much of the time. Internal control of Gaza is in the hands of the Hamas government.

Geographic Issues
-Israel has major cities near international borders and is surrounded by Arab neighbors.
-The Golan Heights were a series of highland hills near Israel that were under Syrian control but Israel took over that territory in the 1967 war
-The West Bank was under Jordan's control for a short time but now is Palestinian territory and subject to Israeli controls and military interventions

Population Demographics
The State of Israel had population of approximately 7,503,800 inhabitants as of December 2009. 75.4% of them were Jewish (about 5,660,700 individuals), 20.3% were Arabs (About 1,523,900 inhabitants), while the remaining 4.3% (about 319,200 individuals) were defined as "others" (family members of Jewish immigrants who were not registered at the Interior Ministry as Jews, non-Arab Christians, non-Arab Muslims and residents who do not have a religious classification).

* Total population growth rate: 1.8% -this is the growth rate will not continue to be this high as Israel cannot count on continued immigrants from Russia

During the 1990s, the Jewish population growth rate was about 3% per year, as a result of massive immigration to Israel, primarily from the republics of the former Soviet Union. There is also a high population growth rate among certain Jewish groups, especially adherents of Haredi Judaism.

The Palestinian territories in this context are defined to include West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza strip. It is one of a number of designations for those portions of the British Mandate of Palestine captured and occupied by Jordan and by Egypt in the late 1940s, and captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day? War.

Population growth rate
2.75% (2008 est.) This high growth rate may continue for some time given that there are no reasons for it to subside

Given these growth rates, the Palestinians will surpass the Israelis in total numbers. They could demand that Israel recognize them as citizens and demand the right to vote or have some power of self-determination instead of a two-state solution.

-one of the biggest reasons for the conflict would be the holy sites in Jerusalem. Both sides are intransigent because they refuse to give up territories they believe central to their faith.
-The Western Wall is the site of the remnants of an early and important temple for the Jews
-The Dome of the Rock is important to the Muslims as it is the place where Mohammad ascended into heaven
-some of the holy sites are literally one on top of the other making it impossible to divide them

The Wall
The Israeli West Bank barrier is a security barrier being constructed by the State of Israel. It consists of a network made mostly of fences with vehicle-barrier trenches surrounded by an on average 60 meter wide exclusion area (90%). In some areas the barrier is an 8 meter tall concrete wall. (10%). The barrier is built mainly in the West Bank and partly along the 1949 Armistice line, or "Green Line" between Israel and Palestinian West Bank. In April 2006, the length of the barrier approved by the Israeli government was 703 kilometers (436 miles). In August 2008, approximately 58.04% had been constructed, 8.96% was under construction, and construction had not yet begun on 33% of the barrier. The Jerusalem Post reported in July 2007 that the barrier may not be completed until 2010, seven years after it was originally supposed to be finished.

The barrier is highly controversial. Supporters argue that the barrier is necessary to protect Israeli civilians from Palestinian terrorism, including the suicide bombing attacks that increased significantly during the Al-Aqsa? Intifada; The significantly reduced number of incidents of suicide bombings since the construction of the barrier has shown that the barrier saves lives.

Opponents of the barrier object that the route substantially deviates from the Green Line into the occupied territories captured by Israel in the Six-Day? War of 1967. They argue that the barrier is an illegal attempt to annex Palestinian land under the guise of security, violates international law,7 has the effect of pre-empting final status negotiations, and severely restricts Palestinians who live nearby, particularly their ability to travel freely within the West Bank and to access work in Israel.In a 2004 advisory opinion, the International Court of Justice considered that "Israel cannot rely on a right of self-defence or on a state of necessity in order to preclude the wrongfulness of the construction of the wall". The Court found that "the construction of the wall, and its associated régime, are contrary to international law"

Settler opponents condemn the barrier for appearing to renounce the Jewish claim to the whole of the Land of Israel.

Two similar barriers, the Israeli Gaza Strip barrier and the Israeli-built11 7-9 meter (23 – 30 ft) wall separating Gaza from Egypt (temporarily breached on January 23, 2008), have been less controversial.