Israel. Israel conducted two parliamentary elections during the year. In the April election, challenger Benny Gantz and his newly formed middle party Blåvitt ended up so even with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party that both proclaimed victors. But it was the right-wing Prime Minister (65 seats out of 120) of the incumbent Prime Minister who was to form a government – knowing that Benny Gantz had promised to make the government’s work “a hell of a hell”. It couldn’t be. In May, Netanyahu was forced to admit that he had failed to form government. He failed to reach a collaboration with the party Yisrael Beiteinu, led by former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. At the end of May, the Knesset was dissolved and new elections were announced until 17 September.
The election, the second in less than six months, also became very smooth. The incumbent Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Likud Party failed to gain a majority, but still became the first to try to form a government. On October 21, Netanyahu announced that he had to cancel the trials. Benny Gantz now got the chance, but he too had to give up a month later. This means that the country faces a third new election in less than a year.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: Click to see the meanings of 3-letter acronym and abbreviation of ISR in general and in geography as Israel in particular.
Prime Minister Netanyahu had hoped that the new elections would strengthen his position and that he would be able to retain his prosecution immunity. But in late November, he was indicted for, among other things, bribery and fraud. The prosecution has long rested on him and his wife Sara; among other things, the couple has received gifts, such as jewelry and champagne, in exchange for political services. In February, Prosecutor Avichai Mandelblit announced his intention to bring Netanyahu to trial, but as long as he was Prime Minister, with prosecution immunity, this was not possible. Netanyahu himself calls the prosecution a “politically motivated witch hunt”.
The Israel-Palestine conflict continued unabated throughout the year. In February, a UN report came out saying that there was clear evidence that Israel committed human and human rights violations at the Palestinian protests last year, including in connection with the inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem in May 2018. According to the UN no less than 6,000 unarmed protesters were shot by the Israeli military; Among those killed were 189 Palestinians (of whom 35 were children), as well as two journalists and three nurses. Israel dismissed the UN report as “hostile, lying and angular” and argued that it was only defending the border from armed extremists.
On the anniversary of the big demonstrations in 2018, nearly 40,000 Palestinian protesters gathered at the Israeli border in Gaza. The protests against Israel were sometimes violent when the protesters threw grenades and set fire to car tires. Israeli military responded with gunfire and tear gas; four Palestinians were killed. The Palestinian organization Hamas said the protests, now entering its second year, would continue until the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip ceased.
At the end of March, the United States recognized the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory. President Donald Trump signed the decree in connection with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to the White House. The EU member states opposed the decree, and according to the Syrian Foreign Ministry (the Golan borders Syria) made “the United States the worst enemy of the Arab world”.
In November, another important American recognition for Israel came that Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory (the West Bank) do not necessarily constitute a violation of international law. However, this statement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo contradicts the Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupation power from allowing its own citizens to settle in occupied territory. The EU responded by emphasizing that it will not change its position that the settlements on the West Bank are a violation of international law.
At the beginning of May, the conflict with the Palestinians escalated sharply, after Hamas sent hundreds of rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip. Israel responded to the shooting with a targeted attack on “two rocket ramps”. Possibly the attack was a revenge from the Palestinians; the day before, four Palestinians, including two Hamas members, had been killed by Israeli military forces in the Gaza Strip. According to other analysts, it was a planned, strategic attack given that Israel lacks government, that several major Israeli celebrations would soon be celebrated and that the Eurovision Song Contest was close to understanding. About twenty people were killed in the attacks, which were over in a few days. The Israeli Defense Forces later stated that about 300 targets were attacked; One of the targets was said to be a center for cyberattacks against Israel.
In August, rocket fire from Palestinian and Israeli sites also occurred. In November, the Gaza conflict escalated further after Israel killed a high-ranking Palestinian jihadist leader, Baha Abu al-Ata, from the armed Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement. According to Israel, he was behind many of the latest attacks on Israeli targets. Palestinian militant groups responded with widespread rocket attacks from Gaza. After a few days, and some thirty dead, they managed to negotiate a cease-fire with the help of Egypt as a negotiator.
According to CountryAAH, the population of Israel in 2019 was 8,519,266, ranking number 101 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.640% yearly, and the population density was 393.6866 people per km2.