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Israel is a small yet diverse Middle Eastern country with a long coastline on the eastern Mediterranean Sea and a small window on the Red Sea on the Gulf of Eilat (Aqaba). Israel is bordered by Egypt and Gaza Strip to the southwest, by Jordan and the West Bank to the east (with which it shares a border along the Jordan River and the Dead Sea), and by Syria and Lebanon to the north.

Israel is considered a Holy Land (together with areas of Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Territories), to four major world religions - Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Bahá'í Faith - as well as a vibrant modern history and culture, based in no small part on the diverse, mostly immigrant origins of its inhabitants from the Arab world and the Jewish Diaspora. These aspects make Israel a fascinating (if sometimes challenging) drawcard for many travellers and pilgrims.

Israel is a highly urbanized and economically developed society and is therefore best divided for the traveller into its main cities and towns, followed by the regions and other sites.

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, Israel's Arab neighbors invaded the nation with the hope of regaining previously held territory. The Israelis defeated the Arabs in a series of wars without ending the deep tensions between the two sides. On 25 April 1982, Israel withdrew from the Sinai pursuant to the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. 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 (from the Israeli-occupied West Bank) and Syria, to achieve a permanent settlement. But progress toward a permanent status agreement has been undermined by the outbreak of Palestinian-Israeli violence since September 2000.

Citizens from most European, North American and Australasian countries do not need a visa prior to arrival. Note that German citizens born before January 1, 1928, do have to apply for a visa in advance. This visa will be given if you were not heavily involved in events during the Nazi era and will be valid for the whole time your passport is valid. Further note that in some Arab states it constitutes a crime for their citizens to enter Israel at all. Even if you're an Arab-born citizen of a European or North American country having entered Israel may have consequences when returning to your country of birth.

Pay attention to the fact that many Arab countries (such as Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia etc.) deny entry to any person that has been to Israel. Not only an Israeli stamp puts your entry into these countries at risk but also a stamp from another country (such as Egypt or Jordan) that you can only receive in a border crossing point towards Israel. If arriving by air or by sea and wishing to go to Arab states with the same passport, ask the Israeli immigration officer to put his stamp onto a separate piece of paper. Then you're safe not to be denied entry by the Arab states named above. Citizens of some countries (such as Germany) have the possibility of applying for a second passport. This allows them to have an Israeli stamp in one passport and travel to the Arab states with another one.

Most European and American visitors get three months stay when they arrive by plane. In the past westerners entering by land have been given two weeks, this is no longer true (as of November 2005). Israeli immigration may take a dim view of travelers arriving from Arab countries, but you are unlikely to face anything worse than very time-consuming, and repetitive, but polite questioning.

Information provided by Wikipedia

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