Israel and neighbors
When the British left Palestine after WWII, the U.N. carved out
Arab and Jewish states, despite Arab objections. After a series of
Arab-Israeli wars, Israel now occupies the West Bank and Gaza Strip,
where many uprooted Palestinians live in refugee camps. Peace pacts
were signed with Egypt and Jordan, but a peace process begun in 1993
for a permanent settlement with the Palestinian leadership of Yasser
Arafat has faltered, while Syria, which dominates Lebanon, remains
hostile toward Israel.
Area: Israel (8,000 square miles, slightly smaller than
New Jersey); Jordan (34,448 square miles).
Capital: Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in
1950, but Palestinians want part of it as a capital, a symbolic move
to Muslims because it contains important holy sites.
Population: Israel (5.9 million); Syria (16 million);
Lebanon (3.5 million); Jordan (4.9 million).
Economic aid: Israel got $1.1 billion from the United
States in 1999.