Israel has emerged as a regional economic and military powerhouse, leveraging its booming high-tech sector, massive defense industry, and concerns about Iran to foster partnerships around the world, even with some of its former foes. The State of Israel was declared in 1948, after Britain withdrew from its mandate of Palestine. The UN proposed partitioning the area into Arab and Jewish states, and Arab armies that rejected the UN plan were defeated. Israel was admitted as a member of the UN in 1949 and saw rapid population growth, primarily due to migration from Europe and the Middle East, over the following years. Israel fought wars against its Arab neighbors in 1967 and 1973, followed by peace treaties with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. Israel took control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 war, and subsequently administered those territories through military authorities. Israel and Palestinian officials signed a number of interim agreements in the 1990s that created an interim period of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. While the most recent formal efforts to negotiate final status issues occurred in 2013-2014, the US continues its efforts to advance peace. Immigration to Israel continues, with more than20,000 new immigrants, mostly Jewish, in 2020. The Israeli economy has undergone a dramatic transformation in the last 25 years, led by cutting-edge, high-tech sectors. Offshore gas discoveries in the Mediterranean, most notably in the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields, place Israel at the center of a potential regional natural gas market. However, longer-term structural issues such as low labor force participation among minority populations, low workforce productivity, high costs for housing and consumer staples, and a lack of competition, remain a concern for many Israelis and an important consideration for Israeli politicians. Former Prime Minister Benjamin NETANYAHU dominated Israel’s political landscape from 2009 to June 2021, becoming Israel’s longest serving prime minister before he was unseated by Naftali BENNETT, after Israel’s fourth election in two years. BENNETT formed the most ideologically diverse coalition in Israel’s history, including the participation of an Arab-Israeli party. Under the terms of the coalition agreement, BENNETT would remain as prime minister until August 2023, then Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair LAPID would succeed him. Israel signed normalization agreements – brokered by the US – with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Morocco in late 2020 and with Sudan in early 2021.