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Place: Israel and the Occupied Territories

Israel is a relatively small country at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. Israel is bordered by Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. In 2005, Israel’s population was over six million.

The land mass that now forms Israel and the Occupied Palestinian  Territories has a number of attributes that directly relate to the ongoing Arab-Israeli dispute. Among these are purely geographical considerations. The quality of the land itself ranges from fertile to completely unsuitable for agriculture. Water sources such as the Jordan River are vital and may be the source of future conflicts in the Middle East. There are also security implications, especially from the point of view of Israel, which since its inception has had  some hostile Arab states. While Israel has good relations with Egypt and Jordan, it also has the significant advantage of being the only country in the region with nuclear arms.

Finally, the land itself has deep religious significance for people of the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian faiths. It contains many of the holy sites of all three of these religions, making it difficult for each group to remain neutral. At the same time there are similarities between these groups as they are all monotheistic and they are all a part of the Abrahamic faith tradition.

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