from Greek Samareia, from Aramaic Shamerayin, ultimately from Hebrew Shomeron, from Shemer, name of the owner who sold the site to King Omri (cf. 1 Kings xvi:24).
Old English, "the Jewish people," from Latin Israel, from Greek, from Hebrew yisra'el "he that striveth with God" (Gen. xxxii.28), symbolic proper name conferred on Jacob and extended to his descendants, from sara "he fought, contended" + El "God." As an independent Jewish state in the country formerly called Palestine, it is attested from 1948.
The name given to Jacob after he wrestled with God. Israel is also the name of the northern kingdom of the Israelites, when their nation was split in two after the death of King Solomon. (See under “World Geography.”)
Republic in the Middle East, formerly part of Palestine. Israel is bordered by Lebanon to the north, Syria and Jordan to the east, the Gulf of Aqaba (an arm of the Red Sea) to the south, Egypt to the southwest, and the Mediterranean Sea to the west. Its capital and largest city is Jerusalem.
Note: The state of Israel, a homeland for Jews worldwide, was proclaimed in 1948. Since then, conflict has arisen because of opposition by the surrounding Arab peoples to the formation of a Jewish state on what they consider Arab territory (see Arab-Israeli conflict).
Note: As a move toward permanent peace between Israel and the Arab states, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat met with U. S. President James Earl Carter in the United States and signed a peace treaty in 1979.
Note: The United States has been Israel's major supporter, but Israeli settlements on the West Bank strained U.S.-Israel relations.
Note: Periodic Palestinian intifadas against Israeli domination of the West Bank and Gaza Strip continue.