Israel, or State of Israel, a country in southwestern Asia. It is a predominantly Jewish state and one of the few non-Arab nations in the Middle East. Israel was established in 1948 in Palestine, a former British mandated territory. Its creation, sanctioned by the United Nations, was the fulfillment of a long-held Jewish dream for a homeland again in the Holy Land, a homeland open to all the Jews of the world. With the emergence of Israel came a bitter Arab-Israeli conflict, the Arabs protesting the loss of land long occupied by them. Four Arab-Israeli wars have since been fought, the last one occurring in 1973.
Israel borders on Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. The armistice lines agreed upon at the end of fighting in 1949 served as boundaries until the Six Day War of 1967. The area within these boundaries is 8,130 square miles (21,056 km2). The Six Day War ended with Israel occupying the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, East Jerusalem and all Jordanian territory west of the Jordan River (the West Bank), and the Golan Heights in Syria. The Sinai, largest of the captured areas, was returned to Egypt in stages during 1974–82. In 1994, following a peace agreement with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and of Jericho (in the West Bank) ended. Further peace agreements in 1995 led to the Israeli withdrawal from most of the Palestinian areas of the West Bank.