Under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu at the end of the 1990s, Israel withdrew from Hebron, and signed the Wye River Memorandum, giving greater control to the Palestinian National Authority. Ehud Barak, elected Prime Minister in 1999, began the new millennium by withdrawing forces from Southern Lebanon and conducting negotiations with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and U.S. President Bill Clinton at the 2000 Camp David Summit. During the summit, Barak offered a plan for the establishment of a Palestinian state. The proposed state included the entirety of the Gaza Strip and over 90% of the West Bank with Jerusalem as a shared capital. Each side blamed the other for the failure of the talks. After a controversial visit by Likud leader Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount, the Second Intifada began. Some commentators contend that the uprising was pre-planned by Arafat due to the collapse of peace talks. Sharon became prime minister in a 2001 special election. During his tenure, Sharon carried out his plan to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip and also spearheaded the construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier, ending the Intifada. ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; By this time 1,100 Israelis had been killed, mostly in suicide bombings. The Palestinian fatalities, from 2000 to 2008, reached 4,791 killed by Israeli security forces, 44 killed by Israeli civilians, and 609 killed by Palestinians.
During Netanyahu's third term, he continued his policy of economic liberalization. In December 2013, the Knesset approved the Business Concentration Law, which intended to open Israel's highly concentrated economy to competition to lower consumer prices, reduce income inequality, and increase economic growth. Netanyahu had formed the Concentration Committee in 2010, and the bill, which was pushed forward by his government, implemented its recommendations. The new law banned multi-tiered corporate holding structures, in which a CEO's family members or other affiliated individuals held public companies which in turn owned other public companies, and who were thus able to engage in price gouging. Under the law, corporations were banned from owning more than two tiers of publicly listed companies and from holding both financial and non-financial enterprises. All conglomerates were given four to six years to sell excess holdings. Netanyahu also began a campaign of port privatization to break what he viewed as the monopoly held by workers of the Israel Port Authority, so as to lower consumer prices and increase exports. In July 2013, he issued tenders for the construction of private ports in Haifa and Ashdod. Netanyahu has also pledged to curb excess bureaucracy and regulations to ease the burden on industry.
Netanyahu was born in 1949 in Tel Aviv, Israel, to Tzila Segal (28 August 1912 – 31 January 2000) who had been born in Petah Tikva in the Ottoman Empire's Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem, and a Warsaw-born father, Prof. Benzion Netanyahu (1910–2012). He was the second of three children. He discovered via a DNA test that he is, in part, of Sephardi Jewish ancestry. He was initially raised and educated in Jerusalem, where he attended Henrietta Szold Elementary School. A copy of his evaluation from his 6th grade teacher Ruth Rubenstein indicated that Netanyahu was courteous, polite, and helpful; that his work was "responsible and punctual"; and that he was friendly, disciplined, cheerful, brave, active and obedient.
Netanyahu was born in Tel Aviv, to Prof. Benzion Netanyahu (original name Mileikowsky) and Tzila (Cela; née Segal). His mother was born in 1912 in Petah Tikva, then in Ottoman Palestine, now Israel. Though all his grandparents were born in the Russian Empire (now Belarus, Lithuania and Poland), his mother's parents emigrated to Minneapolis in the United States. He is related to Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna (the Vilna Gaon) on his paternal side.
The economy of Israel is a highly advanced free-market, primarily knowledge-based economy. Israel ranks within the top 20 nations in the world on the latest report of the UN's Human Development Index, which places it in the category of "Very Highly Developed", allowing the country to enjoy a higher standard of living than many other Western countries. The prosperity of Israel's advanced economy allows the country to have a sophisticated welfare state, a modern infrastructure, and a high-technology sector competitively on par with Silicon Valley. Israel has the second-largest number of startup companies in the world after the United States, and the third-largest number of NASDAQ-listed companies after the U.S. and China. Intel, Microsoft, and Apple built their first overseas research and development facilities in Israel, and other high-tech multi-national corporations, such as IBM, Google, HP, Cisco Systems, Facebook and Motorola have opened R&D centres in the country.
* Silicon Docks: Dublin, Ireland. Contains the European headquarters of companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, and many others.
, the city is a major seaport located on Israel's Mediterranean coastline in the Bay of Haifa covering 63.7 km2. It lies about 90 km north of Tel Aviv and is the major regional center of northern Israel. According to researcher Jonathan Kis-Lev, Haifa is considered a relative haven for coexistence between Jews and Arabs. Two respected academic institutions, the University of Haifa and the Technion, are located in Haifa, in addition to the largest K–12 school in Israel, the Hebrew Reali School. The city plays an important role in Israel's economy. It is home to Matam, one of the oldest and largest high-tech parks in the country; Haifa also owns the only underground rapid transit system located in Israel, known as the Carmelit. Haifa Bay is a center of heavy industry, petroleum refining and chemical processing. Haifa formerly functioned as the western terminus of an oil pipeline from Iraq via Jordan.
In 2000, a modest discovery was made when a 33-billion-cubic-metre (BCM), or 1,200-billion-cubic-foot, natural-gas field was located offshore Ashkelon, with commercial production starting in 2004. however, this field is nearly depleted—earlier than expected due to increased pumping to partially compensate for the loss of imported Egyptian gas in the wake of unrest associated with the fall of the Mubarak regime in 2011. In 2009, a significant gas find named Tamar, with proven reserves of 223 BCM or 223 e9m3 (307 BCM total proven + probable) was located in deep water approximately 90 km west of Haifa, as well as a smaller 15 BCM (15 e9m3) field situated nearer the coastline. Furthermore, results of 3D seismic surveys and test drilling conducted since 2010 have confirmed that an estimated 621 BCM (621 e9m3) natural-gas deposit named Leviathan exists in a large underwater geological formation nearby the large gas field already discovered in 2009.
The proceeds from these sources was invested in industrial and agricultural development projects, which allowed Israel to become economically self-sufficient. Among the projects made possible by the aid was the Hadera power plant, the Dead Sea Works, the National Water Carrier, port development in Haifa, Ashdod, and Eilat, desalination plants, and national infrastructure projects.
Israel has the second-largest number of startup companies in the world after the United States, and the third-largest number of NASDAQ-listed companies after the U.S. and China. Intel and Microsoft built their first overseas research and development facilities in Israel, and other high-tech multi-national corporations, such as IBM, Google, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems, Facebook and Motorola have opened research and development centres in the country. In 2007, American investor Warren Buffett's holding company Berkshire Hathaway bought an Israeli company, Iscar, its first acquisition outside the United States, for $4 billion.
The common Israeli saying, "Haifa works, Jerusalem prays, and Tel Aviv plays" attests to Haifa's reputation as a city of workers and industry. The industrial region of Haifa is in the eastern part of the city, around the Kishon River. It is home to the Haifa oil refinery, one of the two oil refineries in Israel (the other refinery being located in Ashdod). The Haifa refinery processes 9 million tons (66 million barrels) of crude oil a year. Its nowadays unused twin 80-meter high cooling towers, built in the 1930s, were the tallest buildings built in the British Mandate period. Matam (short for Merkaz Ta'asiyot Mada – Scientific Industries Center), the largest and oldest business park in Israel, is at the southern entrance to the city, hosting manufacturing and R&D facilities for a large number of Israeli and international hi-tech companies, such as Apple, Amazon, Abbot, Cadence, Intel, IBM, Magic Leap, Microsoft, Motorola, Google, Yahoo!, Elbit, CSR, Philips, PwC and Amdocs. The campus of the University of Haifa is also home to IBM Haifa Labs.
The company announced 500 million users in July 2010. Half of the site's membership used Facebook daily, for an average of 34 minutes, while 150 million users accessed the site from mobile devices. A company representative called the milestone a "quiet revolution." In November 2010, based on SecondMarket Inc. (an exchange for privately held companies' shares), Facebook's value was $41 billion. The company had slightly surpassed eBay to become the third largest American web company after Google and Amazon.com.
In May 2005, Accel Partners invested $12.7 million in Facebook, and Jim Breyer added $1 million of his own money. A high-school version of the site launched in September 2005. Eligibility expanded to include employees of several companies, including Apple Inc. and Microsoft.