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State and Religious Communities: the Case of Israel

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Chapter Summary

The "labyrinthine" relationship between religion and state in Israel, "founded as a home for the Jewish people, in which freedom of religious worship and conscience would be guaranteed to members of all faiths", is authoritatively described in the Initial and First Periodic Report on the implementation of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, submitted in 1998 by Israel to the United Nations Human Rights Committee. To understand the system that developed in Israel, it is indispensable to examine the regime established during the Ottoman period and under the British Mandate. The 1993 Fundamental Agreement Between the Holy See and the State of Israel, that led to diplomatic relations between both parties, is discussed in the chapter. The relationship between the State and religious communities must be seen in the light of the place of Jewish religion in the State, an outcome of the mainly secular Zionist movement.

Keywords: Israel; Jewish people; religious communities



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