Israel Elections
West Bank and Gaza Strip
Home to Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority and more than 100,000 Israeli settlers, this land is at the heart of Palestinian-Israeli relations. The "Occupied Territories", captured by Israel from Jordan and Egypt in 1967, were the scene of the Palestinian uprising or "Intifada".

In the Oslo peace process, Mr Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin agreed a gradual hand-over of occupied land to Palestinian control, in exchange for recognition of Israel and security.

Before Rabin could deliver, he was assassinated by a religious Jew and settlements supporter, determined the 'biblical land of Israel' must not be ceded.

Mr Netanyahu withdrew in fits and starts, under pressure from Washington and against opposition from within his own ruling coalition. The impossibility of placating the settler lobby effectively brought down his government and triggered elections.

Ehud Barak came to power amid high hopes that he would revive the peace process, but in his negotiations with the Palestinians the sensitive issues of Jerusalem, settlements, refugees and final borders remain.