This chapter provides a brief historical background and a description of major events in Israel. It also provides basic political, economic, and social data arranged in the following categories: polity, economy, population, purchasing power parities, life expectancy, ethnic groups, capital, political rights, civil liberties, and status. The chapter discusses the progress and decline of political rights and civil liberties in Israel. The Palestinian government indefinitely postponed local elections in May 1998, citing the threat of Israeli interference. However, most believe that democratic municipal elections would reflect widespread Palestinian disillusionment both with the Oslo accords and with Yasir Arafat's leadership. Israeli demands for a Palestinian crackdown on terrorism have given rise to state security courts, which lack almost all due process rights. Suspected Islamic militants are rounded up en masse and often held without charge or trial. Palestinians accused by Israel of security offenses in Israeli-controlled areas are tried in Israeli military courts.