At the heart of Israel's agenda for the future is the continuing Arab-Israeli conflict, with its dimensions of potential conflict and of peace, but placed within the context of numerous territorial and political disputes still to be resolved. Israel's need and desire for peace is not a subject for debate among Israelis, although the means to that end are. Nevertheless, the quest for peace remains a central theme of national life, and Israelis are preoccupied with survival and security.
   Israel has fought seven major wars and countless skirmishes with the Arabs, has built an impressive and highly sophisticated but costly military, and holds a strategic edge over its neighbors. Despite, or perhaps because of, its battlefield successes and the specter of future combat, Israelis continuously recalculate the military balance between themselves and the Arab and Islamic worlds. Concerns about weapons acquisitions, force structure, capability, and the willingness of Arab and Islamic nations to engage in battle with Israel are never far from the center of attention. Factors in these assessments include the regional instability accompanying the war in Iraq with its sectarian violence and the tensions between radical and moderate Muslims and the transfer of nonconven-tional weapons (nuclear, biological, and chemical), technology, and long-range missiles by extraregional actors, such as Russia, China, and North Korea, to such militant Arab and Islamic countries as Syria and Iran, as well as terrorist groups, like Hamas and Hezbollah. The possibility of war with potentially high levels of casualties and other unbearable costs remains a matter of deep public concern. For most Israelis, the prospects for a future in which they will live in peace with their immediate and more distant neighbors in the Middle East seem to lie at a point beyond the immediate future.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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