The West Bank (Arabic: الضفة الغربية aḍ-Ḍaffah l-Ġarbiyyah, Hebrew: הגדה המערבית, HaGadah HaMa'aravit or Cisjordan, also Hebrew: יהודה ושומרון Yehuda ve-Shomron (Judea and Samaria)) is a landlocked territory near the Mediterranean coast of Western Asia, forming the bulk of the Palestinian territories. The West Bank shares boundaries (demarcated by the Jordanian-Israeli armistice of 1949) to the west, north, and south with the state of Israel, and to the east, across the Jordan River, with Jordan. The West Bank also contains a significant coastline along the western bank of the Dead Sea. According to the International Court of Justice advisory ruling (2004), whatever agreements have been made between Israel and Palestinian authorities since 1993 do not alter the fact that these territories, including East Jerusalem, continue "to remain occupied territories" with Israel "the occupying power".
The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has a land area of 5,640 km2 and 220 km2 water, the northwest quarter of the Dead Sea. It has an estimated population of 2,676,740 (July 2013). More than 80%, about 2,100,000, are Palestinian Arabs, and approximately 500,000 are Jewish Israelis living in the West Bank, including about 192,000 in East Jerusalem, in Israeli settlements. The international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Geography
- 4 Economy
- 5 Demographics
- 6 Transportation and communication
- 7 Higher education
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Bibliography
- 11 External links
The name West Bank is a translation of the Arabic term ad-Daffa al-gharbiya, given to the territory west of the Jordan River, conquered by Jordan's Arab Legion in 1948, and annexed to Transjordan in 1950. The term was chosen to differentiate the west bank of the River Jordan from the "East Bank" of this river.
The neo-Latin name Cisjordan or Cis-Jordan (literally "on this side of the River Jordan") is the usual name for the territory in the Romance languages and Hungarian. The name West Bank, however, is standard usage for this geo-political entity in English and some of the other Germanic languages.
In English, the name Cisjordan is occasionally used to designate the entire region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, particularly in the historical context of the British Mandate and earlier times. The analogous Transjordan (literally "on the other side of the River Jordan") has historically been used to designate the region now comprising the state of Jordan, which lies to the east of the Jordan River.
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|History of Palestine|
At the 1920 San Remo conference, the victorious Allied powers (France, UK, USA, etc.) allocated the area to the British Mandate of Palestine (1920–47). It was designated as part of a proposed Arab state by the United Nations (UN) partition plan for Palestine in 1947. The plan recommended partition of the British Mandate into a Jewish State, an Arab State, and an internationally administered enclave of Jerusalem, a more broad region of the modern-day West Bank was assigned to the Arab State.
In fact, following the Second World War, the United Nations passed the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 (II) Future Government of Palestine, which aimed to establish two states within Mandate Palestine. The Resolution designated the territory described as "the hill country of Samaria and Judea" (including what is now known as the "West Bank") as part of the proposed Arab state, but following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War this area was captured by Transjordan (renamed Jordan in 1946). "West Bank" or "Cisjordan" became the name for the area west of the Jordan River, as "East Bank" or "Transjordan" designated the area east of the river.
In the 1949 Armistice Agreements, the West Bank was declared part of Jordanian territory and defined the interim boundary between Israel and Jordan. Jordan ruled over the West Bank from 1948 until 1967, annexing it in 1950. Jordan's claim was never formally recognized by the international community, with the exception of the United Kingdom.
The idea of an independent Palestinian state was not raised by the Arab populations there at the time. King Abdullah of Jordan was crowned King of Jerusalem and granted Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and East Jerusalem Jordanian citizenship.
In June 1967, the West Bank and East Jerusalem were captured by Israel as a result of the Six-Day War. With the exception of East Jerusalem and the former Israeli-Jordanian no man's land, the West Bank was not annexed by Israel but has remained under Israeli military control and is referred to as Judea and Samaria Area by Israel. Although the 1974 Arab League summit resolution at Rabat designated the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”, Jordan did not officially relinquish its claim to the area until 1988, when it severed all administrative and legal ties with the West Bank and eventually stripped West Bank Palestinians of Jordanian citizenship.
Until 1974, Jordan demanded the restoration of its control over the West Bank. In 1988, Jordan's King Hussein announced "full legal and administrative disengagement from the West Bank." On 28 July 1988, King Hussein announced the cessation of a $1.3 billion development program for the West Bank. Over the next few days, he formally dissolved Parliament, ending West Bank representation in the legislature, and severed all administrative and legal ties with the West Bank.
Since the 1993 Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority officially controls a geographically non-contiguous territory comprising approx. 11% of the West Bank (known as Area A) which remains subject to Israeli incursions. Area B (approx. 28%) is subject to both Israeli military and Palestinian civil control. Area C (approx. 61%) is under full Israeli control. Though 164 nations refer to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as “Occupied Palestinian Territory”, the state of Israel insists that only territories captured in war from “an established and recognized sovereign” should be considered occupied territories. Israel's occupation of this territory is not recognized by any state. After the 2007 split between Fatah and Hamas, the West Bank areas under Palestinian control are an exclusive part of the Palestinian Authority, while the Gaza Strip is ruled by Hamas.
From 1517 to 1917 the West Bank was part of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey, successor state to the Ottoman Empire, renounced its territorial claims in 1923 signing the Treaty of Lausanne and the area now called the West Bank became an integral part of the British Mandate for Palestine. During the Mandate period Britain had no right of sovereignty, which was held by the people under the mandate. In 1947 the UN General Assembly recommended that the area that became the West Bank become part of a future Arab state, but this proposal was opposed by the Arab states at the time. In 1949 Jordan occupied the West Bank and subsequently annexed it. However its claim was never recognized by the international community. In 1967 Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in the Six-Day War. UN Security Council Resolution 242 that followed called for withdrawal from territories occupied in the conflict. Since 1979 the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly, the United States, the EU, the International Court of Justice, and the International Committee of the Red Cross refer to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as occupied Palestinian territory. General Assembly resolution 58/292 (17 May 2004) affirmed that the Palestinian people have the right to sovereignty over the area.
Both the International Court of Justice and the Supreme Court of Israel have ruled that the status of the West Bank is that of military occupation. In its 2004 advisory opinion the International Court of Justice concluded that:
The territories situated between the Green Line and the former eastern boundary of Palestine under the Mandate were occupied by Israel in 1967 during the armed conflict between Israel and Jordan. Under customary international law, the Court observes, these were therefore occupied territories in which Israel had the status of occupying Power. Subsequent events in these territories have done nothing to alter this situation. The Court concludes that all these territories (including East Jerusalem) remain occupied territories and that Israel has continued to have the status of occupying Power.
In the same vein the Israeli Supreme Court stated in the 2004 Beit Sourik case that:
The general point of departure of all parties – which is also our point of departure – is that Israel holds the area in belligerent occupation (occupatio bellica)......The authority of the military commander flows from the provisions of public international law regarding belligerent occupation. These rules are established principally in the Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, The Hague, 18 October 1907 [hereinafter – the Hague Regulations]. These regulations reflect customary international law. The military commander’s authority is also anchored in IV Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War 1949.
The executive branch of the Israeli government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has defined the West Bank as disputed territory, whose status can only be determined through negotiations. The Ministry says that occupied territories are territories captured in war from an established and recognized sovereign, and that since the West Bank wasn't under the legitimate and recognized sovereignty of any state prior to the Six-Day War, it shouldn't be considered an occupied territory.
The International Court of Justice ruling of 9 July 2004 however found that the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is territory held by Israel under military occupation, regardless of its status prior to it coming under Israeli occupation and the Fourth Geneva convention applies de jure. The international community regards the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) as territories occupied by Israel.
International law (Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention) prohibits "transfers of the population of an occupying power to occupied territories", incurring a responsibility on the part of Israel's government to not settle Israeli citizens in the West Bank.
The future status of the West Bank, together with the Gaza Strip on the Mediterranean shore, has been the subject of negotiation between the Palestinians and Israelis, although the current Road Map for Peace, proposed by the "Quartet" comprising the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations, envisions an independent Palestinian state in these territories living side by side with Israel (see also proposals for a Palestinian state). However, the "Road Map" states that in the first phase, Palestinians must end all attacks on Israel, whereas Israel must dismantle outposts. Since neither condition has been met since the Road Map was "accepted", by all sides, final negotiations have not yet begun on major political differences.
The Palestinian Authority believes that the West Bank ought to be a part of their sovereign nation, and that the presence of Israeli military control is a violation of their right to Palestinian Authority rule. The United Nations calls the West Bank and Gaza Strip Israeli-occupied territories. The United States State Department also refers to the territories as occupied. Many Israelis and their supporters prefer the term disputed territories, because they claim part of the territory for themselves, and state the land has not, in 2000 years, been sovereign.
Palestinian public opinion opposes Israeli military and settler presence on the West Bank as a violation of their right to statehood and sovereignty. Israeli opinion is split into a number of views:
- Complete or partial withdrawal from the West Bank in hopes of peaceful coexistence in separate states (sometimes called the "land for peace" position); (In a 2003 poll, 76% of Israelis supported a peace agreement based on that principle).
- Maintenance of a military presence in the West Bank to reduce Palestinian terrorism by deterrence or by armed intervention, while relinquishing some degree of political control;
- Annexation of the West Bank while considering the Palestinian population with Palestinian Authority citizenship with Israeli residence permit as per the Elon Peace Plan;
- Annexation of the West Bank and assimilation of the Palestinian population to fully fledged Israeli citizens;
- Transfer of the East Jerusalem Palestinian population (a 2002 poll at the height of the Al Aqsa intifada found 46% of Israelis favoring Palestinian transfer of Jerusalem residents).
In 2005 the United States ambassador to Israel, Daniel C. Kurtzer, expressed U.S. support "for the retention by Israel of major Israeli population centres [in the West Bank] as an outcome of negotiations", reflecting President Bush's statement a year earlier that a permanent peace treaty would have to reflect "demographic realities" on the West Bank. In May 2011 US President Barack Obama officially stated US support for a future Palestinian state based on borders prior to the 1967 War, allowing for land swaps where they are mutually agreeable between the two sides. Obama was the first US president to formally support the policy, but he stated that it had it been one long held by the US in its Middle East negotiations.
The West Bank has an area of 5,628 square kilometres (2,173 sq mi), which comprises 21,2% of former Mandatory Palestine (excluding Jordan) and has generally rugged mountainous terrain. The total length of the land boundaries of the region are 404 kilometres (251 miles). The terrain is mostly rugged dissected upland, some vegetation in west, but somewhat barren in the east. The elevation span between the shoreline of the Dead Sea at -408 m to the highest point at Mount Nabi Yunis, at 1,030 m (3,379 ft) above sea level. The area of West Bank is landlocked; highlands are main recharge area for Israel's coastal aquifers.
There are few natural resources in the area except the highly arable land, which comprises 27% of the land area of the region. It is mostly used as permanent pastures (32% of arable land) and seasonal agricultural uses (40%). Forests and woodland comprise just 1%, with no permanent crops.
The climate in the West Bank is mostly Mediterranean, slightly cooler at elevated areas compared with the shoreline, west to the area. In the east, the West Bank includes the Judean Desert and the shoreline of the Dead Sea - both with dry and hot climate.
The 1993 Oslo Accords declared the final status of the West Bank to be subject to a forthcoming settlement between Israel and the Palestinian leadership. Following these interim accords, Israel withdrew its military rule from some parts of the West Bank, which was divided into three administrative divisions of the Oslo Accords:
|Area||Security||Civil Admin||% of WB
|% of WB
Area A, 2.7%, full civil control of the Palestinian Authority, comprises Palestinian towns, and some rural areas away from Israeli settlements in the north (between Jenin, Nablus, Tubas, and Tulkarm), the south (around Hebron), and one in the center south of Salfit. Area B, 25.2%, adds other populated rural areas, many closer to the center of the West Bank. Area C contains all the Israeli settlements, roads used to access the settlements, buffer zones (near settlements, roads, strategic areas, and Israel), and almost all of the Jordan Valley and the Judean Desert.
Areas A and B are themselves divided among 227 separate areas (199 of which are smaller than 2 square kilometers (1 sq mi)) that are separated from one another by Israeli-controlled Area C.  Areas A, B, and C cross the 11 governorates used as administrative divisions by the Palestinian National Authority, Israel, and the IDF and named after major cities. The mainly open areas of Area C, which contains all of the basic resources of arable and building land, water springs, quarries and sites of touristic value needed to develop a viable Palestinian state, were to be handed over to the Palestinians by 1999 under the Oslo Accords. This was never done.
According to B'tselem, while the vast majority of the Palestinian population lives in areas A and B, the vacant land available for construction in dozens of villages and towns across the West Bank is situated on the margins of the communities and defined as area C. Less than 1% of area C is designated for use by Palestinians, who are also unable to build in their own existing villages in area C due to Israeli authorities' restrictions.
An assessment by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in 2007 found that approximately 40% of the West Bank was taken up by Israeli infrastructure. The infrastructure, consisting of settlements, the barrier, military bases and closed military areas, Israeli declared nature reserves and the roads that accompany them is off-limits or tightly controlled to Palestinians.
In June 2011, the Independent Commission for Human Rights published a report that found that Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were subjected in 2010 to an “almost systematic campaign” of human rights abuse by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, as well as by Israeli authorities, with the security forces of the PA and Hamas being responsible for torture, arrests and arbitrary detentions.
Areas annexed by Israel
Through the Jerusalem Law, Israel extended its administrative control over East Jerusalem. This has often been interpreted as tantamount to an official annexation, though Ian Lustick, in reviewing the legal status of Israeli measures, has argued that no such annexation ever took place. The Palestinian residents have legal permanent residency status. Rejecting the Jerusalem Law, the UN Security Council passed UN Security Council Resolution 478, declaring that the law was "null and void". Although permanent residents are permitted, if they wish, to receive Israeli citizenship if they meet certain conditions including swearing allegiance to the State and renouncing any other citizenship, most Palestinians did not apply for Israeli citizenship for political reasons. There are various possible reasons as to why the West Bank had not been annexed to Israel after its capture in 1967. The government of Israel has not formally confirmed an official reason; however, historians and analysts have established a variety of such, most of them demographic. Among those most commonly cited have been:
- Reluctance to award its citizenship to an overwhelming number of a potentially hostile population whose allies were sworn to the destruction of Israel.
- To ultimately exchange land for peace with neighbouring states
- Fear that the population of ethnic Arabs, including Israeli citizens of Palestinian ethnicity, would outnumber the Jewish Israelis west of the Jordan River.
- The disputed legality of annexation under the Fourth Geneva Convention
The importance of demographic concerns to some significant figures in Israel's leadership was illustrated when Avraham Burg, a former Knesset Speaker and former chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel, wrote in The Guardian in September 2003,
- "Between the Jordan and the Mediterranean there is no longer a clear Jewish majority. And so, fellow citizens, it is not possible to keep the whole thing without paying a price. We cannot keep a Palestinian majority under an Israeli boot and at the same time think ourselves the only democracy in the Middle East. There cannot be democracy without equal rights for all who live here, Arab as well as Jew. We cannot keep the territories and preserve a Jewish majority in the world's only Jewish state – not by means that are humane and moral and Jewish."
As of December 2010, 327,750 Israelis live in the 121 settlements in the West Bank officially recognised by the Israeli government, 192,000 Israelis live in settlements in East Jerusalem. There are approximately 100 further settlement outposts which are not officially recognized by the Israeli government and are illegal under Israeli law, but have been provided with infrastructure, water, sewage, and other services by the authorities.
The international consensus (including the United Nations) is that all Israeli settlements on the West Bank beyond the Green Line border are illegal under international law. In particular, the European Union as a whole considers the settlements to be illegal. Significant portions of the Israeli public similarly oppose the continuing presence of Jewish Israelis in the West Bank and have supported the 2005 settlement relocation. The majority of legal scholars also hold the settlements to violate international law, however individuals including Julius Stone, and Eugene Rostow have argued that they are legal under international law, on a number of different grounds. Immediately after the 1967 war Theodor Meron, legal counsel of Israel's Foreign Ministry advised Israeli ministers in a "top secret" memo that any policy of building settlements across occupied territories violated international law and would "contravene the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention".
The UN Security Council has issued several non-binding resolutions addressing the issue of the settlements. Typical of these is UN Security Council resolution 446 which states [the] practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity, and it calls on Israel as the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention.
The Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention held in Geneva on 5 December 2001 called upon "the Occupying Power to fully and effectively respect the Fourth Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and to refrain from perpetrating any violation of the Convention." The High Contracting Parties reaffirmed "the illegality of the settlements in the said territories and of the extension thereof."
On 30 December 2007, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert issued an order requiring approval by both the Israeli Prime Minister and Israeli Defense Minister of all settlement activities (including planning) in the West Bank.
The Haaretz published on December 2005 about demolition of Palestinian outposts in Bil'in, the demolitions sparked a political debate as according to PeaceNow it was a double standard ("After what happened today in Bil'in, there is no reason that the state should defend its decision to continue the construction" credited to Michael Sfard).
In January 2012, the European Union approved the "Area C and Palestinian state building" report. The report said Palestinian presence in Area C has been continuously undermined by Israel and that state building efforts in Area C of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the EU were of "utmost importance in order to support the creation of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state". The EU will support various projects to "support the Palestinian people and help maintain their presence".
In May 2012, a petition was filed to the Israeli Supreme Court about the legality of more 15 Palestinian outposts and Palestinian building in "Area C". The cases were filed by the non-profit Regavim: National Land Protection Trust.
The petition was one of 30 different petitions with the common ground of illegal land takeover and illegal construction and use of natural resources. some of the petitions (27) had been set for trials and the majority received a verdict.
Ynet News stated on 18 January 2013 that Palestinian activists built an outpost on a disputed area in Beit Iksa, where Israel plans to construct part of the separation fence in the Jerusalem vicinity while the Palestinians claim that the area belongs to the residents of Beit Iksa. named Bab al-Krama
West Bank barrier
The Israeli West Bank barrier is a physical barrier ordered for construction by the Israeli Government, consisting of a network of fences with vehicle-barrier trenches surrounded by an on average 60 meters (197 ft) wide exclusion area (90%) and up to 8 meters (26 ft) high concrete walls (10%) (although in most areas the wall is not nearly that high). It is located mainly within the West Bank, partly along the 1949 Armistice line, or "Green Line" between the West Bank and Israel. As of April 2006 the length of the barrier as approved by the Israeli government is 703 kilometers (437 mi) long.[needs update] Approximately 58.4% has been constructed, 8.96% is under construction, and construction has not yet begun on 33% of the barrier. The space between the barrier and the green line is a closed military zone known as the Seam Zone, cutting off 8.5% of the West Bank and encompassing dozens of villages and tens of thousands of Palestinians.
The barrier generally runs along or near the 1949 Jordanian-Israeli armistice/Green Line, but diverges in many places to include on the Israeli side several of the highly populated areas of Jewish settlements in the West Bank such as East Jerusalem, Ariel, Gush Etzion, Immanuel, Karnei Shomron, Givat Ze'ev, Oranit, and Maale Adumim.
Supporters of the barrier claim it is necessary for protecting Israeli civilians from Palestinian attacks, which increased significantly during the Al-Aqsa Intifada; it has helped reduce incidents of terrorism by 90% from 2002 to 2005; over a 96% reduction in terror attacks in the six years ending in 2007, though Israel's State Comptroller has acknowledged that most of the suicide bombers crossed into Israel through existing checkpoints. Its supporters claim that the onus is now on the Palestinian Authority to fight terrorism.
Opponents claim the barrier is an illegal attempt to annex Palestinian land under the guise of security, violates international law, has the intent or effect to pre-empt final status negotiations, and severely restricts Palestinian livelihoods, particularly limiting their freedom of movement within and from the West Bank thereby undermining their economy.
After the signing of the Oslo Accords, the West Bank was divided into 11 governorates under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian National Authority. Since 2007 there are two governments claiming to be the legitimate government of the Palestinian National Authority, one based in the West Bank and one based in the Gaza Strip.
|Ramallah and Al-Bireh Governorate||260,018||844|
(including Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem)
Israeli administrative districts
The West Bank is further divided into 8 administrative regions: Menashe (Jenin area), HaBik'a (Jordan Valley), Shomron (Shechem area, known in Arabic as Nablus), Efrayim (Tulkarm area), Binyamin (Ramallah/al-Bireh area), Maccabim (Maccabim area), Etzion (Bethlehem area) and Yehuda (Hebron area).
Consequences of occupation
The main reason for economic depression is the Israeli occupation.
According to a 2007 World Bank report, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank has destroyed the Palestinian economy, in violation of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access. All major roads (with a total length of 700 km) are basically off-limits to Palestinians, making it impossible to do normal business. Economic recovery would reduce Palestinian dependence on international aid by one billion dollars per year.
A more comprehensive 2013 World Bank report calculates that, if the Interim Agreement was respected and restrictions lifted, a few key industries alone would produce USD 2.2 billion per annum more (or 23% of 2011 Palestinian GDP) and reduce by some USD 800 million (50%) the Palestinian Authority's deficit; the employment would increase by 35%.
In December 2007, an official Census conducted by the Palestinian Authority found that the Palestinian Arab population of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) was 2,345,000. However, the World Bank and American-Israeli Demographic Research Group identified a 32% discrepancy between first-grade enrollment statistics documented by the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS)’ 2007 projections, with questions also raised about the PCBS’ growth assumptions for the period 1997–2003. Israeli Border Police in 2006 observed 25,000 Palestinian Arabs emigrating from Palestinian Authority-controlled territories.
There are 350,143 Israeli settlers living in the West Bank excluding East Jerusalem, as well as around 210,000 living in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem. There are also small ethnic groups, such as the Samaritans living in and around Nablus, numbering in the hundreds.
As of October 2007, around 23,000 Palestinians in the West Bank work in Israel every day with another 9,200 working in Israeli settlements. In addition, around 10,000 Palestinian traders from the West Bank are allowed to travel every day into Israel.
In 2008, approximately 30% of Palestinians or 754,263 persons living in the West Bank were refugees or descendants of refugees from villages and towns located in what became Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, according to UNRWA statistics. A 2011 EU report noted that between 200,000 and 320,000 Palestinians used to live in the Jordan Valley, most of which is in Area C, in 1967, but demolition of Palestinian homes and prevention of new buildings has seen the number drop to 56,000. In a similar period, the Jewish population in Area C has grown from 1,200 to 310,000.
Major population centers
The most densely populated part of the region is a mountainous spine, running north-south, where the cities of Jerusalem, Nablus, Ramallah, al-Bireh, Jenin, Bethlehem, Hebron and Yattah are located as well as the Israeli settlements of Ariel, Ma'ale Adumim and Beitar Illit. Ramallah, although relatively mid in population compared to other major cities as Hebron, Nablus and Jenin, serves as an economic and political center for the Palestinians. Near Ramallah the new city of Rawabi is under construction. Jenin in the extreme north and is the capital of north of the West Bank and is on the southern edge of the Jezreel Valley. Modi'in Illit, Qalqilyah and Tulkarm are in the low foothills adjacent to the Israeli Coastal Plain, and Jericho and Tubas are situated in the Jordan Valley, north of the Dead Sea.
The population of the West Bank is 75% Muslim while 17% is Jewish. The remaining 8% are Christians and others.
Transportation and communication
The West Bank has 5,147 km (3,198 mi) of roads, all of which are paved.
Transportation infrastructure is particularly problematic as Palestinian use of roads in Area C is highly restricted, and travel times can be inordinate; the Palestinian Authority has also been unable to develop roads, airports or railways in or through Area C, while many other roads were restricted only to public transportation and to Palestinians who have special permits from Israeli authorities.
At certain times, Israel maintained more than 600 checkpoints or roadblocks in the region. As such, movement restrictions were also placed on main roads traditionally used by Palestinians to travel between cities, and such restrictions are still blamed for poverty and economic depression in the West Bank. Underpasses and bridges (28 of which have been constructed and 16 of which are planned) link Palestinian areas separated from each other by Israeli settlements and bypass roads"
Israeli restrictions were tightened in 2007.
As of August 2007[update], a divided highway is currently under construction that will pass through the West Bank. The highway has a concrete wall dividing the two sides, one designated for Israeli vehicles, the other for Palestinian. The wall is designed to allow Palestinians to pass north-south through Israeli-held land and facilitate the building of additional Jewish settlements in the Jerusalem neighborhood.
As of February 2012[update], a plan for 475-kilometer rail network, establishing 11 new rail lines in West Bank, was confirmed by Israeli Transportation Ministry. The West Bank network would include one line running through Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Ma'aleh Adumim, Bethlehem and Hebron. Another would provide service along the Jordanian border from Eilat to the Dead Sea, Jericho and Beit She'an and from there toward Haifa in the west and in also in a northeasterly direction. The proposed scheme also calls for shorter routes, such as between Nablus and Tul Karm in the West Bank, and from Ramallah to the Allenby Bridge crossing into Jordan.
The Palestinian Paltel telecommunication companies provide communication services such as landline, cellular network and Internet in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Dialling code +970 is used in the West Bank and all over the Palestinian territories. Until 2007, the Palestinian mobile market was monopolized by Jawwal. A new mobile operator for the territories launched in 2009 under the name of Wataniya Telecom. The number of Internet users increased from 35,000 in 2000 to 356,000 in 2010.
Radio and television
The Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation broadcasts from an AM station in Ramallah on 675 kHz; numerous local privately owned stations are also in operation. Most Palestinian households have a radio and TV, and satellite dishes for receiving international coverage are widespread. Recently, PalTel announced and has begun implementing an initiative to provide ADSL broadband internet service to all households and businesses. Israel's cable television company HOT, satellite television provider (DBS) Yes, AM and FM radio broadcast stations and public television broadcast stations all operate. Broadband internet service by Bezeq's ADSL and by the cable company are available as well. The Al-Aqsa Voice broadcasts from Dabas Mall in Tulkarem at 106.7 FM. The Al-Aqsa TV station shares these offices.
Seven universities are operating in the West Bank:
- Bethlehem University, a Roman Catholic institution of the Lasallian tradition partially funded by the Vatican, opened its doors in 1973.
- In 1975, Birzeit College (located in the town of Bir Zeit north of Ramallah) became Birzeit University after adding third- and fourth-year college-level programs.
- An-Najah College in Nablus likewise became An-Najah National University in 1977.
- Hebron University was established as College of Shari'a in 1971 and became Hebron University in 1980.
- Al-Quds University was founded in 1995, unifying several colleges and faculties in and around East Jerusalem.
- In 2000, the Arab American University – the only private university in the West Bank – was founded outside of Zababdeh, with the purpose of providing courses according to the American system of education.
- Ariel University is located in the Israeli settlement of Ariel and was granted full university status in 17 July 2012. It was established in 1982.
Most universities in the West Bank have politically active student bodies, and elections of student council officers are normally along party affiliations. Although the establishment of the universities was initially allowed by the Israeli authorities, some were sporadically ordered closed by the Israeli Civil Administration during the 1970s and 1980s to prevent political activities and violence against the IDF. Some universities remained closed by military order for extended periods during years immediately preceding and following the first Palestinian Intifada, but have largely remained open since the signing of the Oslo Accords despite the advent of the Al-Aqsa Intifada (Second Intifada) in 2000.
The founding of Palestinian universities has greatly increased education levels among the population in the West Bank. According to a Birzeit University study, the percentage of Palestinians choosing local universities as opposed to foreign institutions has been steadily increasing; as of 1997, 41% of Palestinians with bachelor degrees had obtained them from Palestinian institutions. According to UNESCO, Palestinians are one of the most highly educated groups in the Middle East "despite often difficult circumstances". The literacy rate among Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) is 94,6% for 2009.
- Israel Defense Forces, Ordinance No. 187, "Ordinance about Interpretation", "The term Region of Yehuda ve-HaŠomron will be identical in meaning, for all purposes, including any legal issue or security legislation, to the term Region of HaGada HaMa'aravit", 17 December 1967, Major General Uzi Narkis, Commander of Central District and IDF Forces in the Region of HaGada HaMa'aravit. Published in Hebrew and Arabic in Collection no. 9 of ordinances for the West Bank, 22 January 1968, p. 368
- Dishon (1973) Dishon Record 1968 Published by Shiloah Institute (later the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies) and John Wiley and Sons, ISBN 0-470-21611-5 p 441
- "The World Factbook – Middle East: West Bank". Central Intelligence Agency See also Geography of the West Bank.
- Saree Makdisi,Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation, W. W. Norton & Company, 2010 p.20.
- "IDF: More than 300,000 settlers live in West Bank". Haaretz. Israel. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
- Roberts, Adam. "Prolonged Military Occupation: The Israeli-Occupied Territories Since 1967". The American Journal of International Law (American Society of International Law) 84 (1): 85–86. "The international community has taken a critical view of both deportations and settlements as being contrary to international law. General Assembly resolutions have condemned the deportations since 1969, and have done so by overwhelming majorities in recent years. Likewise, they have consistently deplored the establishment of settlements, and have done so by overwhelming majorities throughout the period (since the end of 1976) of the rapid expansion in their numbers. The Security Council has also been critical of deportations and settlements; and other bodies have viewed them as an obstacle to peace, and illegal under international law.."
- Pertile, Marco (2005). "'Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory': A Missed Opportunity for International Humanitarian Law?". In Conforti, Benedetto; Bravo, Luigi. The Italian Yearbook of International Law 14. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 141. ISBN 978-90-04-15027-0. "the establishment of the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory has been considered illegal by the international community and by the majority of legal scholars."
- Barak-Erez, Daphne (2006). "Israel: The security barrier—between international law, constitutional law, and domestic judicial review". International Journal of Constitutional Law (Oxford University Press) 4 (3): 548. "The real controversy hovering over all the litigation on the security barrier concerns the fate of the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. Since 1967, Israel has allowed and even encouraged its citizens to live in the new settlements established in the territories, motivated by religious and national sentiments attached to the history of the Jewish nation in the land of Israel. This policy has also been justified in terms of security interests, taking into consideration the dangerous geographic circumstances of Israel before 1967 (where Israeli areas on the Mediterranean coast were potentially threatened by Jordanian control of the West Bank ridge). The international community, for its part, has viewed this policy as patently illegal, based on the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention that prohibit moving populations to or from territories under occupation."
- Drew, Catriona (1997). "Self-determination and population transfer". In Bowen, Stephen. Human rights, self-determination and political change in the occupied Palestinian territories. International studies in human rights 52. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. pp. 151–152. ISBN 978-90-411-0502-8. "It can thus clearly be concluded that the transfer of Israeli settlers into the occupied territories violates not only the laws of belligerent occupation but the Palestinian right of self-determination under international law. The question remains, however, whether this is of any practical value. In other words, given the view of the international community that the Israeli settlements are illegal under the law if belligerent occupation …"
- "The Constituent Assembly First Knesset 1949-1951". Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
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- Joseph Massad said that the members of the Arab League granted de facto recognition and that the United States had formally recognized the annexation, except for Jerusalem. See Joseph A. Massad, Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001),ISBN 0-231-12323-X, page 229. Records show that the United States de facto accepted the annexation without formally recognizing it. United States Department of State / Foreign relations of the United States, 1950. The Near East, South Asia, and Africa pg. 921
- It is often stated that Pakistan recognized it as well, but that seems to be incorrect; see S. R. Silverburg, Pakistan and the West Bank: A research note, Middle Eastern Studies, 19:2 (1983) 261–263.
- Armstrong, Karen. Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths. New York: Ballantine Books, 1996. p. 387.
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- Resolution 446, Resolution 465, Resolution 484, among others
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- Occupied Palestinian Territory - EU
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- Mark Gibney; Stanlislaw Frankowski (1999). Judicial Protection of Human Rights: Myth or Reality?. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger/Greenwood. p. 72. ISBN 0-275-96011-0.
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- IDF completes evacuation of Bil'in 'outpost' Some 150 troops break into caravan built near West Bank village to protest construction of separation fence.
- Europe to pursue Area C projects, YnetNews 12 January 2012
- "A2. European Union, Internal Report on "Area C and Palestinian State Building," Brussels, January 2012 (excerpts)". Journal of Palestine Studies (University of California Press) 41 (3 (Spring 2012)): 220–223.
- Dozens of Palestinian outposts created in Judea and Samaria: The Supreme Court will decide
- Illegal Palestinian quarry near Beit Fajar to close
- List of petitions by the Regavim NGO
- "Palestinians erect outpost in E1 zone".
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- Wall Street Journal, "After Sharon", 6 January 2006.
- "Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory". 30 January 2004.
- Sen. Clinton: I support W. Bank fence, PA must fight terrorism. Haaretz, 13 November 2005
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- Set in stone, The Guardian, 15 June 2003
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- World Bank (2013). "West Bank and Gaza - Area C and the future of the Palestinian economy". World Bank, Washington DC. Retrieved 18 January 2014. "While internal Palestinian political divisions have contributed to investor aversion to the Palestinian territories, Israeli restrictions on trade, movement and access are clearly the binding constraint to investment: these restrictions substantially increase the cost of trade and make it impossible to import many production inputs into the Palestinian territories, as illustrated, for instance, on the example of the telecommunications sector. For Gaza, the restrictions on import and export are in particular severe. In addition to the restrictions on labor movement between the Palestinian territories, the restrictions on movement of labor within the West Bank have been shown to have a strong impact on employability, wages, and economic growth. Israeli restrictions render much economic activity very difficult or impossible to conduct on about 61 percent of the West Bank territory, called Area C. Restrictions on movement and access, and the stunted potential of Area C."
- Movement and access restrictions in the West Bank: Uncertainty and inefficiency in the Palestinian economy. World Bank Technical Team. 9 May 2007.
- World Bank (2013). "West Bank and Gaza - Area C and the future of the Palestinian economy". World Bank, Washington DC. Retrieved 18 January 2014. "[...] assumed that the various physical, legal, regulatory and bureaucratic constraints that currently prevent investors from obtaining construction permits, and accessing land and water resources are lifted, as envisaged under the Interim Agreement. [...] It is understood that realizing the full potential of such investments requires other changes as well - first, the rolling back of the movement and access restrictions in force outside Area C, which prevent the easy export of Palestinian products and inhibit tourists and investors from accessing Area C; and second, further reforms by the Palestinian Authority to better enable potential investors to register businesses, enforce contracts, and acquire finance. [...] Neglecting indirect positive effects, we estimate that the potential additional output from the sectors evaluated in this report alone would amount to at least USD 2.2 billion per annum in valued added terms - a sum equivalent to 23 percent of 2011 Palestinian GDP. The bulk of this would come from agriculture and Dead Sea minerals exploitation. [...] x. Tapping this potential output could dramatically improve the PA's fiscal position. Even without any improvements in the efficiency of tax collection, at the current rate of tax/GDP of 20 percent the additional tax revenues associated with such an increase in GDP would amount to some USD 800 million. Assuming that expenditures remain at the same level, this extra resource would notionally cut the fiscal deficit by half - significantly reducing the need for donor recurrent budget support. This major improvement in fiscal sustainability would in turn generate significant positive reputational benefits for the PA and would considerably enhance investor confidence. xi. The impact on Palestinian livelihoods would be impressive. An increase in GDP equivalent to 35 percent would be expected to create substantial employment, sufficient to put a significant dent in the currently high rate of unemployment. If an earlier estimated one-to-one relationship between growth and employment was to hold, this increase in GDP would lead to a 35 percent increase in employment. This level of growth in employment would also put a large dent in poverty, as recent estimates show that unemployed Palestinians are twice as likely to be poor as their employed counterparts."
- "Palestinians grow by a million in decade". The Jerusalem Post. 9 February 2008. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
- https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/we.html#People CIA Factbook| West Bank| People
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- Statistical Atlas of Palestine – Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics
- Global Integrity Report: West Bank has governance and anti-corruption profile.
- West Bank entry at The World Factbook
- Palestinian Territories at the United States Department of State
- Palestine from UCB Libraries GovPubs
- Palestine Facts & Info from Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs
- United Nations – Question of Palestine
- Disputed Territories: Forgotten Facts about the West Bank and Gaza Strip – from Israeli government's Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- West Bank on the Open Directory Project
- Large map of West Bank (2008) – C.I.A./Univ. of Texas, Austin
- Large map of West Bank (1992)
- A series of geopolitical maps of the West Bank
- 1988 "Address to the Nation" by King Hussein of Jordan Ceding Jordanian Claims to the West Bank to the PLO
- Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association – establishing links between the North London Borough of Camden and the town of Abu Dis in the West Bank
- Map of Palestinian Refugee Camps 1993 (UNRWA/C.I.A./Univ. of Texas, Austin)
- Map of Israel 2008 (C.I.A./Univ. of Texas, Austin)
- Map of Israeli Settlements in the West Bank Dec. 1993 (C.I.A./Univ. of Texas, Austin)
- Map of Israeli Settlements in the Gaza Strip Dec. 1993 (C.I.A./Univ. of Texas, Austin)
- Israeli Settlements interactive map and Israeli land use from The Guardian
- West Bank access restrictions map (highly detailed), by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- Squeeze them out; As Jewish settlements expand, the Palestinians are being driven away 4 May 2013 The Economist
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