Background: Following World War II, the British withdrew from their mandate of Palestine, and the UN partitioned the area into Arab and Jewish states, an arrangement rejected by the Arabs. Subsequently, the Israelis defeated the Arabs in a series of wars without ending the deep tensions between the two sides. The territories occupied by Israel since the 1967 war are not included in the Israel country profile, unless otherwise noted. On 25 April 1982, Israel withdrew from the Sinai pursuant to the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. Israel and Palestinian officials signed on 13 September 1993 a Declaration of Principles (also known as the "Oslo Accords") guiding an interim period of Palestinian self-rule. Outstanding territorial and other disputes with Jordan were resolved in the 26 October 1994 Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace. In addition, on 25 May 2000, Israel withdrew unilaterally from southern Lebanon, which it had occupied since 1982. In keeping with the framework established at the Madrid Conference in October 1991, bilateral negotiations were conducted between Israel and Palestinian representatives and Syria to achieve a permanent settlement. In April 2003, US President BUSH, working in conjunction with the EU, UN, and Russia - the "Quartet" - took the lead in laying out a roadmap to a final settlement of the conflict by 2005, based on reciprocal steps by the two parties leading to two states, Israel and a democratic Palestine. However, progress toward a permanent status agreement was undermined by Palestinian-Israeli violence between September 2000 and February 2005. An agreement reached at Sharm al-Sheikh in February 2005 significantly reduced the violence. The election in January 2005 of Mahmud ABBAS as the new Palestinian leader following the November 2004 death of Yasir ARAFAT, the formation of a Likud-Labor-United Torah Judaism coalition government in January 2005, and the successful Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip (August-September 2005), presented an opportunity for a renewed peace effort. However, internal Israeli political events between October and December 2005 have destabilized the political situation and forced early elections, scheduled for March 2006.
Definition: This entry usually highlights major historic events and current issues and may include a statement about one or two key future trends.
Source: CIA World Factbook - Unless otherwise noted, information in this page is accurate as of April 17, 2006
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