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West Bank

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Middle East : West Bank
Flag
Image:Palestine-flag.png
Quick Facts
Capital
Government
Currencynew Israeli shekel (ILS); Jordanian dinar (JOD)
Areatotal: 5,860 sq km
note: includes West Bank, Latrun Salient, and the northwest quarter of the Dead Sea, but excludes Mt. Scopus; East Jerusalem and Jerusalem No Man's Land are also included only as a means of depicting the entire area occupied by Israel in 1967
water: 220 sq km
land: 5,640 sq km
Population2,163,667 (July 2002 est.)
note: in addition, there are about 187,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank and fewer than 177,000 in East Jerusalem (February 2002 est.)
LanguageArabic, Hebrew (spoken by Israeli settlers and many Palestinians), English (widely understood)
ReligionMuslim 75% (predominantly Sunni), Jewish 17%, Christian and other 8%

This is an article about the former West Bank of Jordan, now with parts under the Palestinian Authority and parts under Israeli occupation. Another West Bank exists in the Middle East: the West Bank of Luxor in Egypt.

The West Bank is a Palestinian enclave in the Middle East between Israel and Jordan, to the north of the Dead Sea. It is known as the West Bank because it lies on the western bank of the Jordan River.

This part of the world is steeped in biblical history and contains sites of religious and archaeological significance to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

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West Bank

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Image:we-map.png
Map of West Bank
West Bank

Understand

The regions of Judea, Samaria and Benjamin are sometimes known as the Occupied Territories, because Israel captured this land in 1967, the West Bank remains disputed territory due to Palestinian demands that it be a part of a future Palestinian state. Some Israelis see the West Bank territories as historically Jewish land and a biblical birthright and seek to resettle it by building settlements there. Israel is also building a security barrier within the West Bank, aimed at both preventing the infiltration of terrorists into Israel's pre-1967 borders and creating a de factor border ahead of future negotiations.

West Bank

Climate

Temperate; temperature and precipitation vary with altitude, warm to hot summers, cool to mild winters.

West Bank

Terrain

Mostly rugged dissected upland, some vegetation in west, but barren in east.

  • lowest point: Dead Sea -408 m
  • highest point: Tall Asur 1,022 m
West Bank

History

The Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements (the DOP), signed in Washington on 13 September 1993, provided for a transitional period not exceeding five years of Palestinian interim self-government in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Under the DOP, Israel agreed to transfer certain powers and responsibilities to the Palestinian Authority, which includes the Palestinian Legislative Council elected in January 1996, as part of the interim self-governing arrangements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A transfer of powers and responsibilities for the Gaza Strip and Jericho took place pursuant to the Israel-PLO 4 May 1994 Cairo Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area and in additional areas of the West Bank pursuant to the Israel-PLO 28 September 1995 Interim Agreement, the Israel-PLO 15 January 1997 Protocol Concerning Redeployment in HebronHebron, the Israel-PLO 23 October 1998 Wye River Memorandum, and the 4 September 1999 Sharm el-Sheikh Agreement. The DOP provides that Israel will retain responsibility during the transitional period for external security and for internal security and public order of settlements and Israeli citizens. Direct negotiations to determine the permanent status of Gaza and West Bank had begun in September 1999 after a three-year hiatus, but have been derailed by a second intifadah that broke out in September 2000. The resulting widespread violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel's military response, and instability within the Palestinian Authority continue to undermine progress toward a permanent agreement.

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