Israel is a parliamentary democracy, based on a number of Basic Laws. It has no formal constitution. Religious political parties have in the past blocked all efforts to create a constitution. They hold the opinion that the Jewish state’s constitution must be based upon the Torah (the Five Books of Moses) and the Jewish law (halakhah) that arises from it.
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Two decades on, the system and its leadership seem incapable of resolving these fundamental issues. Opposition parties are allowed to compete in elections, but they are unable to gain significant power on account of the way the system functions and the fact that the military and security establishment still decides important issues.
Omar Barghouti was greatly inspired by Nelson Mandela’s approach to mobilizing the nations of the world against the apartheid regime in South Africa. This approach was introduced in Palestine after the failure of the Camp David II peace negotiations in July 2000 and the outbreak of the second intifada (uprising) in September 2000 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, followed by a major Israeli military operation in the West Bank in 2002.
Israel has a technologically advanced free market economy. Cut diamonds, high-technology equipment and pharmaceuticals are among its leading exports. Its major imports include crude oil, grains, raw materials and military equipment. Israel usually posts sizeable trade deficits, which are offset by tourism and other service exports, as well as significant foreign investment inflows.