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- List of Israeli settlements in the West Bank
Location of West Bank Islands within the continent of Asia
Map of West Bank
Flag Description of Palestinian:This version of Palestine's flag was officially adopted in 1964, and it is said to represent all Palestinian Arabs.
Official name(s) West Bank; Al-Ḍaffah al-Gharbīyah (Arabic); Ha-gadah Ha-maʾaravit (Hebrew)
Population (2013 est.) 3,079,0001COLLAPSE
Total area (sq mi) 2,183
Total area (sq km) 5,655
Background West Bank
From the early 16th century through 1917, the area now known as the West Bank fell under Ottoman rule. Following World War I, the Allied powers (France, UK, Russia) allocated the area to the British Mandate of Palestine. After World War II, the UN passed a resolution to establish two states within the Mandate, and designated a territory including what is now known as the West Bank as part of the proposed Arab state. Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War the area was captured by Transjordan (later renamed Jordan). Jordan annexed the West Bank in 1950. In June 1967, Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War. With the exception of East Jerusalem and the former Israeli-Jordanian border zone, the West Bank has remained under Israeli military control. Under a series of agreements signed between 1994 and 1999, Israel transferred to the Palestinian Authority (PA) security and civilian responsibility for many Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip. Negotiations to determine the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip stalled after the outbreak of an intifada in mid- 2000. In early 2003, the "Quartet" of the US, EU, UN, and Russia, presented a roadmap to a final peace settlement by 2005, calling for two states - Israel and a democratic Palestine. Following Palestinian leader Yasir ARAFAT's death in late 2004 and the subsequent election of Mahmud ABBAS (head of the Fatah political party) as the PA president, Israel and the PA agreed to move the peace process forward. Israel in late 2005 unilaterally withdrew all of its settlers and soldiers and dismantled its military facilities in the Gaza Strip and redeployed its military from several West Bank settlements but continues to control maritime, airspace, and other access. In early 2006, the Islamic Resistance Movement, HAMAS, won the Palestinian Legislative Council election and took control of the PA government. Attempts to form a unity government failed, and violent clashes between Fatah and HAMAS supporters ensued, culminating in HAMAS's violent seizure of all military and governmental institutions in the Gaza Strip. Fatah and HAMAS in early 2011 agreed to reunify the Gaza Strip and West Bank, but the factions have struggled to implement details on governance and security. The status quo remains with HAMAS in control of the Gaza Strip and the PA governing the West Bank. Since the collapse of direct talks between the Israelis and Palestinians in late 2010, President ABBAS has reaffirmed that he will not resume negotiations until Israel halts all settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
West Bank, Arabic Al-Ḍaffah al-Gharbīyah, Hebrew Ha-Gadah Ha-Maʿaravit, area of the former British-mandated (1920–47) territory of Palestine west of the Jordan River, claimed from 1949 to 1988 as part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan but occupied from 1967 by Israel. The territory, excluding East Jerusalem, is also known within Israel by its biblical names, Judaea and Samaria.
The approximately 2,270-square-mile (5,900-square-km) area is the centre of contending Arab and Israeli aspirations in Palestine. Within its present boundaries, it represents the portion of the former mandate retained in 1948 by the Arab forces that entered Palestine after the departure of the British. The borders and status of the area were established by the Jordanian-Israeli armistice of April 3, 1949. Pop. (2006 est.) 2,697,000.
Geography of West Bank
Location: Middle East, west of Jordan
Geographic coordinates: 32 00 N, 35 15 E
Map references: Middle East
- total: 5,860 sq km
- land: 5,640 sq km
- water: 220 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
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Delaware
- total: 404 km
- border countries: Israel 307 km, Jordan 97 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: temperate, temperature and precipitation vary with altitude, warm to hot summers, cool to mild winters
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
Natural resources: NEGL
- arable land: 27%
- permanent crops: 0%
- permanent pastures: 32%
- forests and woodland: 1%
- other: 40%
Irrigated land: NA sq km
Natural hazards: NA
Environment - current issues: adequacy of fresh water supply; sewage treatment
Environment - international agreements:
- party to: none of the selected agreements
- signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: landlocked; highlands are main recharge area for Israel's coastal aquifers; there are 216 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the West Bank and 29 in East Jerusalem (August 1998 est.)
- Geographically, the West Bank is mostly composed of north-south–oriented limestone hills (conventionally called the Samarian Hills north of Jerusalem and the Judaean Hills south of Jerusalem) having an average height of 2,300 to 3,000 feet (700 to 900 metres). The hills descend eastwardly to the low-lying Great Rift Valley of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. The West Bank does not lie entirely within the drainage system of the Jordan River, as elevated areas in the west give rise to the headwaters of streams flowing westward to the Mediterranean Sea.
Annual rainfall of more than 27 inches (685 mm) occurs in the most highly elevated areas in the northwest and declines in the southwest and southeast, along the Dead Sea, to less than 4 inches (100 mm). Widely variable land-use patterns are dictated by the availability of water. Relatively well-watered nonirrigated terrain in the hills (especially those of Samaria) is used for the grazing of sheep and the cultivation of cereals, olives, and fruits such as melons. Irrigated land in the hills and the Jordan River valley is intensively cultivated for assorted fruits and vegetables.
The industrial development of the West Bank was never strong during the Jordanian period, and by the mid-1960s there were less than a dozen industrial establishments with more than 30 employees in the area. Israeli occupation resulted in constraints on West Bank industrial development; investment capital remained scarce both in the West Bank and Gaza, and only the transportation infrastructure saw much improvement after 1967. This improvement occurred mostly for military reasons, although it also benefited agriculture by facilitating the supply and servicing of markets.
The principal Palestinian municipalities of the West Bank are Janīn, Nāblus, and Ramallah north of Jerusalem and Bethlehem (Bayt Laḥm) and Hebron (Al-Khalīl) south of Jerusalem. Jericho (Arīḥā) is the chief municipality of the Jordan River valley. Several small universities on the West Bank (founded or attaining university status in the 1970s) enroll mostly Palestinian students.
Many Palestinians were displaced after the 1948 and 1967 wars. About 300,000 Palestinians (most of whom were originally from territory captured by Israel in 1948) left the impoverished West Bank for Transjordan (later Jordan) during the year after the 1948 war; and about 380,000 Palestinians fled the West Bank after it was captured by the Israelis in 1967. Between 1967 and 1977 an estimated 6,300 Palestinians were evicted from East Jerusalem and replaced by Jewish immigrants, and many others lost their residency rights under the 1992–96 government of Benjamin Netanyahu.
Demography of West Bank
Population: 1,611,109 (July 1999 est.)
- note: in addition, there are some 166,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank and about 176,000 in East Jerusalem (August 1998 est.)
- 0-14 years: 45% (male 370,770; female 352,803)
- 15-64 years: 52% (male 422,209; female 411,597)
- 65 years and over: 3% (male 22,376; female 31,354) (1999 est.)
Population growth rate: 3.14% (1999 est.)
Birth rate: 35.59 births/1,000 population (1999 est.)
Death rate: 4.2 deaths/1,000 population (1999 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1999 est.)
- at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
- under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
- 15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
- 65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
- total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (1999 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 25.22 deaths/1,000 live births (1999 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
- total population: 72.83 years
- male: 70.96 years
- female: 74.79 years (1999 est.)
Total fertility rate: 4.78 children born/woman (1999 est.)
- noun: NA
- adjective: NA
Ethnic groups: Palestinian Arab and other 83%, Jewish 17%
Religions: Muslim 75% (predominantly Sunni), Jewish 17%, Christian and other 8%
Languages: Arabic, Hebrew (spoken by Israeli settlers and many Palestinians), English (widely understood)
Economy of West Bank
Economy - overview: Economic conditions in the West Bank - where economic activity is governed by the Paris Economic Protocol of April 1994 between Israel and the Palestinian Authority - have deteriorated since the early 1990s. Real per capita GDP for the West Bank and Gaza Strip (WBGS) declined 36.1% between 1992 and 1996 owing to the combined effect of falling aggregate incomes and robust population growth. The downturn in economic activity was largely the result of Israeli closure policies - the imposition of generalized border closures in response to security incidents in Israel - which disrupted previously established labor and commodity market relationships between Israel and the WBGS. The most serious negative social effect of this downturn has been the emergence of chronic unemployment; average unemployment rates in the WBGS during the 1980s were generally under 5%, by the mid-1990s this level had risen to over 20%. Since 1997 Israel's use of comprehensive closures has decreased and, in 1998, Israel implemented new policies to reduce the impact of closures and other security procedures on the movement of Palestinian goods and labor. These positive changes to the conduct of economic activity, combined with international donor pledges of over $3 billion made to the Palestinian Authority in November, may fuel a moderate economic recovery in 1999.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $3.1 billion (1998 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2.2% (1998 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $2,000 (1998 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 33% industry: 25% services: 42% (1995 est., includes Gaza Strip)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA% highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 7.6% (1997 est.)
Labor force: NA
- note: excluding Israeli settlers
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 13%, industry 13%, commerce, restaurants, and hotels 12%, construction 8%, other services 54% (1996)
Unemployment rate: 17.3% (1997 est.)
revenues: $816 million expenditures: $866 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1997 est.) note: includes Gaza Strip
Industries: generally small family businesses that produce cement, textiles, soap, olive-wood carvings, and mother-of-pearl souvenirs; the Israelis have established some small-scale, modern industries in the settlements and industrial centers
Industrial production growth rate: NA%
Electricity - production: NA kWh
- note: most electricity imported from Israel; East Jerusalem Electric Company buys and distributes electricity to Palestinians in East Jerusalem and its concession in the West Bank; the Israel Electric Company directly supplies electricity to most Jewish residents and military facilities; at the same time, some Palestinian municipalities, such as Nabulus and Janin, generate their own electricity from small power plants
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: NA% hydro: NA% nuclear: NA% other: NA%
Electricity - consumption: NA kWh
Electricity - exports: NA kWh
Electricity - imports: NA kWh
Agriculture - products: olives, citrus, vegetables; beef, dairy products
Exports: $781 million (f.o.b., 1997 est.) (includes Gaza Strip)
Exports - commodities: olives, fruit, vegetables, limestone
Exports - partners: Israel, Jordan
Imports: $2.1 billion (c.i.f., 1997 est.) (includes Gaza Strip)
Imports - commodities: food, consumer goods, construction materials
Imports - partners: Israel, Jordan
Debt - external: $108 million (1997 est.)
Economic aid - recipient: $NA
Currency: 1 new Israeli shekel (NIS) = 100 new agorot; 1 Jordanian dinar (JD) = 1,000 fils
Exchange rates: new Israeli shekels (NIS) per US$1 - 4.2260 (November 1998), 3.4494 (1997), 3.1917 (1996), 3.0113 (1995), 3.0111 (1994); Jordanian
dinars (JD) per US$1 - 0.7090 (January 1999), 0.7090 (1998), 0.7090 (1997), 0.7090 (1996), 0.7005 (1995), 0.6987 (1994)
Fiscal year: calendar year (since 1 January 1992)
People of West Bank
About 75% of the population of the West Bank consists of Sunni Muslim Palestinian Arabs, many of whom live in large, impoverished refugee camps; 17% are Jewish Israelis living in government-subsidized settlements; and the rest are mainly Christian Palestinian Arabs. Arabic, Hebrew, and English are spoken. The land in the N West Bank is fertile, and olives, citrus and other fruits, vegetables, beef, and dairy products are produced. Family businesses and small-scale industries manufacture such goods as architectural limestone, textiles, and handicrafts, although investment capital is paltry. The area is also dependent on work in neighboring Israel for employment. Real economic development has been stagnated by a lack of resources and often set back by the Arab-Israeli violence arising out of the occupation and in response to Palestinian attacks in Israel; Israeli control of roughly 50% of the region's land and over roads and other key segments of the infrastructure also has been an impediment to development of the Palestinian economy.
Culture of West Bank
The United Nations definition of a "Palestinian refugee" is a person whose "normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict,” and their descendants, regardless of whether they reside in areas designated as "refugee camps" or in established, permanent communities. The number of refugees who fled or were expelled is controversial; estimates range from under 500,000 to over 950,000. The final UN estimate was 711,000. The West Bank has 699,817 refugees.
Thousands live in refugee camps that have gradually become permanent settlements. The crowded camps comprise small concrete-block huts with corrugated metal doors and roofing. Food is cooked on a metal grate placed over charcoal. Thin mats serve as beds. People bathe and wash clothes in metal drums filled from a community well.
Balata is the largest West Bank camp with a registered refugee population of 21,445. The camp was established in 1950 on land at Nablus. The first West Bank group to defend refugee rights was established in Balata in early 1994. The camp was very active during the intifadah (1987-1993). Many refugees were killed and injured, and numerous shelters were demolished by the Israeli army.
Traditional villages comprise single-story houses made of white stone. They have a kitchen, a sitting room, bathing room, and small bedrooms. Many homes have gardens and are enclosed by a high wall with a gate. Wealthier people can have two-story homes, the top used for living quarters and entertaining, the bottom for utilities and storage.
- A serving of baklava
The main meal is eaten between 2pm and 3pm, and may include falafel, sandwiches made with deep-fried balls of garlic- and lemon-flavored chickpea mix, hummus, or grilled lamb sandwiches, called shwarma. Pita bread is a part of every meal. Lamb, eggplant, chicken, and rice are widely eaten, as are baklava pastries, made with honey and almonds or pistachios. Palestinian men drink coffee or tea as a social activity. Mensaf, a large platter of rice covered with a lamb or goat stew and pine nuts, is served at weddings, feasts, and funerals.
Poet and journalist Mahmoud Darwish is highly political and deals with the Israeli occupation. His poem "Identity Card," written in 1964, is one of the best-known works by a Palestinian. He also composed Palestine's Declaration of Independence. In his anthology The Wind-Driven Reed and Other Poems, (1979) Fouzi al-Asmar evokes the Palestinian longing for a homeland.
Palestinian-American Edward Said, a historian and essayist, explored Palestinians problems and aspirations in Peace and Its Discontents and other books. Other highly regarded émigré write'rs include Liana Badr and Hassan al-Kanafani.
Fiction writer Ghassan Kanafani, depicts the aimlessness and desperation of Palestinian refugees in short stories in All That Remains: Palestine's Children. The works of many leading Palestinian writers are translated in Salma Khadra Jayyusi's Modern Palestinian Literature.
Palestinians dance the Dabke. Palestinian music is one of many regional sub-genres of Arabic music. While it shares much in common with Arabic music, both structurally and instrumentally, there are musical forms and subject matter that are distinctively Palestinian.
Palestinian farmers (fellahin) sang a variety of work songs, while fishing, shepherding, harvesting and making olive oil. Traveling storytellers and musicians called zajaleen were also common, known for their epic tales. Weddings were home to distinctive music, especially the dabke, a complex dance performed by linked groups of dancers. Popular songs were in widely-varying forms, especially meyjana and dalauna.
After the creation of Israel in 1948, the centers for Palestinian music were in the Israeli towns of Nazareth and Haifa, where performers composed in the classical styles of Cairo and Damascus. The shared Palestinian identity first arose during this period, and a new wave of performers emerged with distinctively Palestinian themes, relating to the dreams of statehood.
Late in the 1970s, a new wave of popular Palestinian stars emerged, including Sabreen and Al Ashiqeen. After the 1987 Intifada, a more hard-edged group of performers and songwriters emerged, led by El Funoun, a songwriter.
In the 1990s, Palestinian cultural expression began to stabilize. Wedding bands, having long since disappeared during the fighting, reappeared and played popular Egyptian and Lebanese songs. Tania Nasser soon emerged as a major star, and became well-known for her support of feminism among Palestinian women.
Beginning in the late 1990s, Palestinian youth forged a new Palestinian musical sub-genre - Palestinian rap or hip hop - which blends Arabic melodies and Western beats, with lyrics in Arabic, English and even Hebrew. Young Palestinian musicians tailored the style to express their own grievances.
DAM were pioneers in forging this blend. As Arab citizens of Israel, they rap in Arabic, Hebrew, and English often challenging stereotypes about Palestinians and Arabs head-on in songs like Meen Erhabe? (Who's a terrorist?) Other Palestinian hip hop artists include members of The Philistines, N.O.M.A.D.S, MWR, and the Palestinian Rapperz.
History of West Bank
Upon the departure of the British occupying forces in May 1948 and the proclamation of the State of Israel, the armies of five Arab countries entered Palestine. In the ensuing conflict—the first of the Arab-Israeli wars—Israel expanded beyond the territory contemplated by the partition plan. The West Bank, as demarcated by the Jordanian-Israeli armistice of 1949, was broadly similar to (but smaller than) one of the zones designated as an Arab state by the United Nations (UN) partition plan for Palestine in 1947. According to that plan, Jerusalem was to have been an international zone. However, the city was instead divided into Israeli (west) and Jordanian (east) sectors. The Arab state whose creation was envisioned by the 1947 UN partition plan never came into being, and the West Bank was formally annexed by Jordan on April 24, 1950, although this annexation was recognized only by Great Britain and Pakistan.
From 1950 until it was occupied by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967, the West Bank was governed as part of Jordan, though it was divided from the Jordanian population of the East Bank by the Jordan River. The relationship between the East and West banks was uneasy, both because of Palestinian suspicions of the Hashemite dynasty and because of the aspirations of Palestinians in the West Bank for a separate state. The web of relationships connecting the two halves of Jordan grew during this period, however, and by 1967 the West Bank represented about 47 percent of Jordan’s population and about 30 percent of its gross domestic product.
During the 1967 war, Israel occupied the West Bank and established a military administration throughout the area, except in East Jerusalem, which Israel incorporated into itself, extending Israeli citizenship, law, and civil administration to the area. During the first decade of Israeli occupation, there was comparatively little civil resistance to Israeli authorities and very little support among Arab residents of resistance activity.
This period of relative calm began to wane during the late 1970s and early ’80s as Israel began a more aggressive course of establishing settlements. By the early ’80s the settlements numbered in the scores, and in the early years of the 21st century the West Bank settlements numbered more than 100, permeating most of the region. Land, businesses, and buildings were expropriated from the Arab inhabitants, many of whom were long absent, having fled the wars of 1948 and 1967. During the administration of Menachem Begin (1979–83), the number of Israeli settlements more than tripled, and the number of Israeli settlers increased more than fivefold. Israeli claims of a right to administer land in the West Bank not cultivated or privately owned (a category that might amount to between 30 and 70 percent of the West Bank, depending on the definitions adopted) gave rise to suspicions that Israel intended ultimately to annex the area piecemeal.
Throughout the 1970s and ’80s the issue of Israeli rule over the West Bank Palestinians remained unresolved. Israel regarded possession of the West Bank as vital to its security, and the growing number of Israeli settlements further stiffened Israeli unwillingness to relinquish control of the area. At the same time, the chief political representative of the West Bank Palestinians, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), refused to negotiate with Israel and, until 1988, was unwilling to recognize Israel’s right to exist; Israel refused to negotiate with or recognize the PLO for years after that date.
In 1988 Jordan’s King Ḥussein renounced all administrative responsibility for the West Bank, thereby severing his country’s remaining connections with the area. Meanwhile, anti-Israeli protests broke out among the Arabs of the West Bank in December 1987 and became virtually a permanent feature of West Bank life for the next few years, despite the Israeli army’s continued attempts to suppress the disorders.
As a result of secret negotiations begun in April 1993, Israel and the PLO reached agreement in September on a plan to gradually extend self-government to the Palestinians of the West Bank (and Gaza Strip) over a five-year period prior to a final settlement of the issue of Palestinian statehood. Under the plan, Israel’s civilian and military administration would be dissolved and the Israeli army withdrawn from populous Arab areas. In the West Bank the plan’s actual implementation began in May 1994 with the Israelis’ withdrawal from the town of Jericho and its environs. By 2000 the Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled less than one-fifth of the West Bank, while Israeli occupation (in some areas, combined with PA local administration) continued in the remainder.
In 2006 parliamentary elections, Fatah—an influential force in Palestinian politics since its foundation by Yāsir ʿArafāt in the 1950s—suffered a decisive loss to Ḥamās, reflecting years of dissatisfaction with Fatah’s governance, which was criticized as corrupt and inefficient. The victory of Ḥamās, a group that was regarded by many as a terrorist organization, resulted in sanctions and boycotts from Israel, the United States, and the European Union. In 2007, with violence escalating in the Gaza Strip and the failure of a coalition government, PA president Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the Ḥamās-led government and established in its place an emergency cabinet favouring Fatah. The increasingly violent power struggle between Ḥamās and Fatah resulted in a split between the West Bank, run by Fatah through the emergency PA government, and the Gaza Strip, controlled by Ḥamās. Israel and other members of the international community moved to aid the West Bank, offering shows of economic and diplomatic support for Abbas and Fatah while cutting aid to the Gaza Strip.
Ramallah town, West Bank also spelled Rām Allāh town in the West Bank, adjacent to the town of Al-Bīrah (east) and north of Jerusalem. Administered as part of the British mandate of Palestine (1920 ...[[Ramallah (town, West Bank)<<<read on>>>]]
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