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West Bank

The neutrality of this article is disputed.

The West Bank or Judea and Samaria is the name of a region to the west of the Jordan River that was occupied by Israel in 1967, not including the Gaza Strip. The name Cisjordan is also used for this region, especially in European languages.

The boundaries between the state of Israel and the West Bank are not clearly defined yet and are the result of the 1949 Armistice Agreement which followed the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. It was occupied and annexed by Jordan from 1949 to 1967. Israel gained control of the territory in the 1967 Six-Day War. The West Bank is considered as occupied by Israel, though Israel and varied other groups prefer the term "control" to "occupation" (see occupied Palestinian territories). The West Bank is inhabited by Arabs, Jews, and other ethnic groups (see Palestinians).

Table of contents
1 Cities in the West Bank
2 Status
3 Transport and Communication
4 External links

Cities in the West Bank

The most densely populated part of the region is a mountainous spine, running north-south, where the cities of Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Hebron are located. Jenin, in the extreme north of the West Bank is on the southern edge of the Jezreel Valley, Qalqilya and Tulkarm are in the low foothills adjacent to the Israeli coastal plain, and Jericho is situated near the Jordan River, just north of the Dead Sea. Maale Adumim (about 6 km east of Jerusalem) and Ariel (between Nablus and Ramallah) are the largest Jewish towns in the region.

Origin of Name

The region did not have a separate existence until 1948-9, when it was defined by the ceasefire lines between the Israeli and Arab (mostly Jordanian) armies. The name "West Bank" was apparently first used by Jordanians at the time of their annexation of the region, and has become the most common name used in English. The name "Cisjordan" or "Cis-jordan" (literally "on this side of the Jordan") is the usual name in French, Spanish, and some other languages. In English, the name "Cisjordan" is also used to designate the entire region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, but such usage was extremely rare before the past few decades. The names Judea and Samaria, used by some Israelis, are Biblical.

Political terminology

Israelis refer to the region either as a unit -- "The West Bank" ("ha-Gada ha-Ma'aravit") -- or as two units -- Judea ("Yehuda") and Samaria ("Shomron"), after the two biblical kingdoms, (the southern kingdom of Judah and the northern Kingdom of Israel -- the capital of which was, for a time, in the town of Samaria). The border between Judea and Samaria is a belt of territory immediately north of Jerusalem) sometimes called the "land of Benjamin".

The Arab world and especially the Palestinians strongly object to the terms Judea and Samaria, the use of which they deem to reflect Israeli expansionist aims. Instead, they refer to the area as "the occupied West Bank of the Jordan River", emphasizing that the area is under Israeli military control and jurisdiction (see "occupied Palestinian territories").


The West Bank has been the object of negotiation, terrorism and war.

The status of the West Bank, together with the Gaza Strip on the Mediterranean shore, has long been disputed, though almost everyone agrees that the area is heading for statehood (see proposals for a Palestinian state).

Current situation:
1. Israel's eastern border was never defined by anyone.
2. The disputed territories were not part of any state (except Jordan) since the
Ottoman Empire days.
3. According to the Camp David Accords (1978) with Egypt, the 1994
agreement with Jordan and the Oslo accords with the PLO the final
status of the territories would be fixed only during the permanent
agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

The United Nations call the West Bank and Gaza Strip Israeli-occupied (see Occupied territories for discussion of what "occupied" means). The US generally agrees with this formulation, although the term disputed territories comes closer to a neutral point of view.

Generally, the Arab World considers the West Bank the rightful property of its Palestinian residents and regards the Israeli presence as an occupation force. Supporters of this view commonly refer to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as the "occupied territories". The vast majority of Palestinians also feel that the West Bank ought to be a part of their sovereign nation, and that the presence of Israeli military forces is a violation of that sovereignty (see Palestinian Authority).

Many official Arab maps show the West Bank, Gaza, and the rest of the territory bounded by Egypt, the Jordan River, Syria, Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea as "Palestine". Israeli maps often show the whole region as "Israel".

Israeli opinion is split into those who advocate, variously:


Main article:
History of the West Bank and Gaza Strip or History of Israel

A part of the pre-1948 Mandatory Palestine, the territories now known as West Bank were mostly part of the territory reserved by the 1947 Partition Plan (UN General Assembly Resolution 181) for an Arab state. According to the plan, the city of Jerusalem and the surrounding towns (including Bethlehem and Ramallah) would be an internationally adminsitered territory, whose future would be determined at a later date. While a Palestinian Arab state failed to materialize, the territory was captured by the neighboring kingdom of Jordan. This occupation was not recognized by the UN or by the international community.

The boundary line between Israel proper and the West Bank was determined by the cease-fire talks in 1949 and is often called the "Green Line". During the 1950s, there was a signiciant phenomenon of Palestinian refugee infiltration and terrorismthrough the Green Line. In the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel captured this territory, but the U.N. did not recognize it either and asked for Israel's withdrawal in Resolution 242. In 1988, Jordan withdrew all claims to it.

The 1993 Oslo accords declared the final status of the West Bank to be a subject to a forthcoming settlement between Israel and the Palestinian leadership. Following the accords, Israel withdrew its military rule from some parts of West Bank, which was then split into:

Areas B and C constitute the majority of the territory, made up out of the rural areas, while urban areas---where the majority of the Palestinian population resides---are mostly Area A.

Israel has been criticized for reconstruction of numerous settlements in the West Bank. It is alleged that it breaks international law by doing so. See Israeli settlements for a discussion of this question. Others disagree and state the settlements are legal as the Balfour Declaration allowed Jewish settlement on these lands and no authorative legal document has come out against it since.

Transport and Communication

The West Bank has 4,500 km of roads, of which 2,700 km are paved. The Israelis have developed many highways to service their settlements. It also has three paved airports. There are no railways.

The Israeli company Bezeq and the Palestinian company PALTEL are responsible for communication services in the West Bank. The Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation broadcasts from an AM station in Ramallah on 675 kHz; numerous local, private stations are reported to be in operation. Most Palestinian households have a radio, and many have a TV, but there are no figures available.

See also Palestine and Ottoman Empire.

External links