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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.


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