Israel is shifting to an Israeli blue and white internet: The new Hebrew ccTLD on the internet has been born, and as a result, the State of Israel joins additional countries enabling the use of domain names in their own native language on the World Wide Web. Yesterday morning, November 22, the Israel Internet Association (RA) (ISOC-IL) began to grant the general public the option of registering domain names entirely in Hebrew.
The new Israeli ccTLD will operate with the suffix “.ישראל,” in parallel to the existing domain with the extension .IL that has been in operation since the 1980’s.
Registration takes place on a “first come, first served” basis, as is the norm at the Association and at state domain name registries around the world.
There are a number of reasons for opting to use a domain name in Hebrew:
- Increasing the sense of belonging to the local Israeli community.
- Underscoring the Israeli connection to the service or business.
- Providing an opportunity for those less fluent in English to use a Hebrew domain name, easily and in the local language.
- Many names, including generic words that are attractive to various fields, have yet to be taken, and may be registered for relevant businesses and services.
- A domain name in Hebrew enables Hebrew speakers to be referred to it easily, also from a non-internet medium such as printed material or a television or radio broadcast.
As we have mentioned, the principle of equality upon which the method of operation of the Israeli domain names registry is based, underscores the manner in which the Israeli domain names registry operates – in an impartial and transparent manner without any political or commercial considerations whatsoever. This method of operation guarantees that any domain name, however attractive, will be registered for use by whoever first requests it.
The opening of the registration of Hebrew domain names to the broader public was preceded in recent months by an early registration procedure (known as the ‘Sunrise’ procedure, which is the standard among global registries for opening new TLDs), during which ISOC-IL enabled incorporated entities such as companies, associations, statutory corporations, political parties, etc., as well as the owners of textual Israeli trademarks, to exercise their right to register a Hebrew domain name that matches their name or registered trademark. By the end of the Sunrise procedure, 150 entities and companies had secured the registration of these domain names (out of 700 applications, the majority of which did not comply with the legal prerequisites).
The existing domain names in Hebrew in the “.IL” TLD continue to operate as usual. Their holders have been awarded a “protected registration” period, during which the holders are entitled to the right of first refusal, limited in time, to register the identical domain name in the “.ישראל” TLD automatically, without the need to submit an application in the Sunrise procedure (apart from exceptional cases of clashing rights or domain names that are unable to be registered at all).
In addition to the possibility of registering domain names in the second-level domain directly under “.ישראל”, four sectoral domains will be established – “ממשל” – for the various government services (as a parallel to gov.il), צהל – for IDF activity (as a parallel to the existing idf.il), ישוב – for the municipal authorities (parallel to muni.il) and אקדמיה – for the activity of recognized academic institutions (parallel to ac.il). Only defined entities belonging to a specific sector may be registered under the sectoral domains.
All the information on the new TLD and how to enter the domain names search service in the new TLD in Hebrew are available to the public on the כולנו.ישראל (“We’re all .ישראל”) website as well as on the Israel Internet Association’s website.
Yoram Hacohen, CEO of the Israel Internet Association:
“Starting today, all Israeli citizens will be able to register their websites entirely in Hebrew. This is a significant step forward and a natural stage of progression for the Israeli internet community, which has both symbolic and practical implications. This will help numerous businesses deepen their connection to Israelis, while also increasing the linguistic diversity on the internet, and making this usage more accessible to those who are not fluent in English. We intend to examine the progress of the new ccTLD and, based on its success, we shall explore the possibility of establishing a new ccTLD in Arabic, too.”