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Israel

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS

Government: Republic and parliamentary democracy headed by president, titular head of state. Executive power wielded by prime minister and cabinet ministers representing dominant political blocs in Knesset, to which they are collectively responsible. Knesset is unicameral parliament of 120 members elected at-large every four years as a rule by direct secret ballot and under system of proportional representation; voting for party lists rather than individual candidates. Electoral system remains object of political reform. Government system based on no comprehensive written constitution but nine Basic Laws enacted by Knesset. Efforts to introduce constitution delineating principle of separation of powers and establishing supremacy of civil law and secular bill of rights have so far met resistance. Judiciary independent and comprises secular, religious, and military courts. Integrity and performance of governmental system checked by independent and influential ombudsman, Office of the State Comptroller.

Politics: Multiparty system divided into four main categories: left-of-center parties, right-of-center parties, rightwing religious parties, and Arab parties. Inconclusive twelfth Knesset election held in November 1988 repeated pattern of 1984 Knesset elections with neither major party able to form cohesive coalition government without other's equal participation. This resulted in formation of National Unity Government. Long-term electoral trends, however, indicated upswing in support for rightof -center parties.

Administrative Divisions: Divided into six administrative districts and fourteen subdistricts under ultimate jurisdiction of Ministry of Interior. Occupied territories of West Bank and Gaza Strip and annexed Golan Heights administered by Israel Defense Forces.

Foreign Affairs: Foreign policy chiefly influenced by Israel's strategic situation, Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and rejection of Israel by most Arab states. Diplomatic relations established with Egypt following 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty, and Israel maintained de facto peaceful relationship with Jordan. General consensus in Israel over terms of 1978 Camp David Accords, but disagreement over principle of exchanging land for peace, particularly over West Bank, and direct negotiations with Palestine Liberation Organization.

Data as of December 1988