CONCLUSION

THE POPULATION OF ISRAEL 5755 / 1995

The cornerstone of Israel’s population policy is the reinforcement of the family within modern society. The Government encourages women and men alike to work and achieve self-fulfillment, prescribes equality in education and wages, and supports the family by providing daycare centers, housing for the impoverished, various benefits under social- welfare labor laws, and child allowances. Government policy on procreation is pro-natal, based on responsible parenthood and recognition of the exclusive right of couples to decide whether or not to have children. Care and assistance for the elderly have been expanded in recent years, with emphasis on integration in family and community life.

It is state policy to encourage Jews to move to Israel. Efforts are made to ease immigrants’ social and occupational integration. The main cause of demographic change in recent years (e.g., the ratios of Jews to Arabs and immigrants to nonimmigrants) has been the arrival and integration of Jews from the former Soviet Union. The economy, which had been mired in stagnation, was energized, but tensions developed in the immigrant-absorption process, especially with respect to housing, employment, and the placement of immigrants in jobs commensurate with their credentials.

Israel has performed respectably in achieving a balanced dispersion of its population. The share of the population along the coastal strip has decreased; that in the peripheral and development regions has increased. The state continues to promote this trend by offering tax benefits, low- priced housing, job opportunities, and more efficient transportation in the preferred regions.

The population enjoys a high level of health, and most intergroup disparities have been eliminated. A policy of universal health insurance was adopted in 1985; a National Health Insurance Law was passed in 1994 and went into effect in January 1995. This policy stresses enhancement of knowledge, narrowing of disparities, improvement of health conditions, reduction of environmental and occupational dangers, and introduction of a more healthful lifestyle.

Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arab countries have been engaged in a peace process in the past few years. Thus far, peace accords have been concluded with Egypt and Jordan, and an agreement has been signed with the Palestinians. Once regional peace is achieved, the time will come to embark on multidisciplinary cooperation between Israel and its neighbors, including cooperation and improvements in the various fields of population and development.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Statistical Abstract of Israel 1994, Central Bureau of Statistics, Jerusalem, 1994.

Demographic Characteristics of the Population in Israel 1990, Publication no. 939, Central Bureau of Statistics, Jerusalem, 1993.

Immigration to Israel 1992, Publication no. 944, Central Bureau of Statistics, Jerusalem, 1993.

"Immigrants from the USSR" (findings and follow-up study conducted in January-April 1992), Supplement to the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics, no. 4, 1993; no. 1, 1994, Jerusalem.