In 2013, Israel celebrated its 65th anniversary as an independent country, but its identity and future are still in the process of being shaped. The country today has fulfilled its mission of becoming a haven where Jews from all over the world can live free from persecution. With its energetic spirit, high-tech and cultural achievements, innovative style, and endless absorption of new immigrants, Israel is clearly thriving. But Israel’s security remains at risk, and with constant waves of immigration, the long-term identity of Israel is still a work in progress.
The population of Israel within its 1967 borders now stands at about 7,800,000: Approximately 5,700,000 Israeli citizens are Jewish; 1,850,000 are Arab Christians, Muslims, and Druze; and at least 300,000 are of other backgrounds or are international.
Israel’s Jewish population comes from all over the world. Israel’s Arab citizens form about 22 percent of the county’s population. They are the descendants of Palestinian Muslims and Christians who remained in the newly formed State of Israel after the 1948 partition of British Mandate Palestine and Israel’s War of Independence. These groups automatically became citizens of Israel when the state was created and now number close to two million. Israel’s Arab population is centered in the Galilee, in mainly Arab cities, such as Nazareth, and in mixed Jewish/Arab cities, such as Haifa, Akko, and Jaffa. The Druze people and the once-nomadic Bedouin peoples of the Negev and the Galilee are also part of the Israeli-Arab tapestry. Israel’s Arab citizens are not required to complete military service; however, most Israeli Bedouins and Druze serve voluntarily, and a large number have received citations for valor.
Additionally, in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured and annexed in 1967 following the Six-Day War, live approximately 300,000 East Jerusalem Palestinians who hold permanent Israeli/Jerusalem resident IDs and reside in the homes and neighborhoods where they lived before 1967. Most East Jerusalem Palestinians are not actual Israeli citizens, both by their own choice and the choice of the Israeli government. East Jerusalem Palestinians, unlike the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza, have complete freedom to travel, work, and study inside Israel. Also, along with thousands of foreign workers from Asia, large numbers of refugees from wars in Sudan, Somalia, and elsewhere in Africa have made their way into Israel, adding to the mix of peoples, foods, and cultures you’ll encounter as you travel through the country.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.