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Key Facts About Israel

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Key Facts About Israel

Flag

The colors blue and white were chosen according to the colors of the ‘Tallit’ – the Jewish prayer shawl. The Star of David appearing in the center of the flag has been a Jewish symbol for hundreds of years.

State Emblem

The official emblem of the State of Israel is the Menorah – a candelabrum, whose shape is derived from the sage plant (Moria). In certain species of the plant, the leaves branch out in a way that resembles the candelabrum that stood in the Holy Temple in ancient Jerusalem.

The Menorah appearing in the state emblem is similar to the one carved on the Arch of Titus in Rome. It is flanked by two olive branches that symbolize Israel’s longing for peace.

Official languages

Hebrew and Arabic

Currency

The Israeli currency is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS), which is divided into 100 agorot (as of January 1986). (In March 2018: $1= approx. 3.4 Shekels.)

Capital

Jerusalem. Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in 1950. The United States, like nearly all other countries, maintained its embassy in Tel Aviv until 2018. In December 2017, President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and began the process of relocating the U.S. embassy to the city. It was moved to Jerusalem in May 2018

Declaration of Independence

May 14, 1948

Constitution

None; however, the Declaration of Establishment (1948), the Basic Laws of the parliament (the Knesset), and the Israeli citizenship law fill many of the functions of a constitution.

Governing Branches

Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.

Executive Branch

Includes the President, Prime Minister and government ministries.

President

The first President, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, was sworn into office on February 16, 1949.

The President is the titular head of state and is elected by the Knesset every seven years, and the main duties are largely ceremonial.

 The Prime Minister

The first Prime Minister was David Ben-Gurion.

David Ben-Gurion signs Declaration of Independence during a ceremony at the Tel Aviv Museum. Sitting beside him: Rabbi Yehuda Leib Maimon, May 14, 1948. Photo: Hans Pinn, GPO

The first government was established on March 8, 1949.  Under Israeli law, the Prime Minister serves a term of four years.

Governing system

Democratic – unicameral parliamentary.