West Bank

West Bank
an area in the Middle East, between the W bank of the Jordan River and the E frontier of Israel: occupied in 1967 and subsequently claimed by Israel; formerly held by Jordan.

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West Bank

Introduction West Bank
Background: 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 Hebron, 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. Geography West Bank -
Location: Middle East, west of Jordan
Geographic coordinates: 32 00 N, 35 15 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 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
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Delaware
Land boundaries: 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
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Dead Sea -408 m highest point: Tall Asur 1,022 m
Natural resources: arable land
Land use: arable land: NEGL% permanent crops: 0% other: 100% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: NA sq km
Natural hazards: droughts Environment - current issues: adequacy of fresh water supply; sewage treatment
Geography - note: landlocked; highlands are main recharge area for Israel's coastal aquifers; there are 231 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the West Bank and 29 in East Jerusalem (August 2001 est.) People West Bank
Population: 2,163,667 (July 2002 est.) note: in addition, there are about 182,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank and about 176,000 in East Jerusalem (August 2001 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 44.4% (male 492,446; female 468,321) 15-64 years: 52% (male 575,282; female 550,793) 65 years and over: 3.6% (male 33,163; female 43,662) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 3.39% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 34.94 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 4.26 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 3.18 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/ female total population: 1.04 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 21.24 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.47 years female: 74.29 years (2002 est.) male: 70.76 years
Total fertility rate: 4.77 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA% HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: 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)
Literacy: definition: NA total population: NA% male: NA% female: NA% Government West Bank
Country name: conventional long form: none conventional short form: West Bank Economy West Bank -
Economy - overview: Economic output in the West Bank is governed by the Paris Economic Protocol of April 1994 between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Real per capita GDP for the West Bank and Gaza Strip (WBGS) declined by about one-third between 1992 and 1996 due to the combined effect of falling aggregate incomes and rapid population growth. The downturn in economic activity was largely the result of Israeli closure policies - the imposition of border closures in response to security incidents in Israel - which disrupted labor and commodity market relationships between Israel and the WBGS. The most serious social effect of this downturn was rising unemployment; unemployment in the WBGS during the 1980s was generally under 5%; by 1995 it had risen to over 20%. Israel's use of comprehensive closures during the next five years 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 changes fueled an almost three-year- long economic recovery in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; real GDP grew by 5% in 1998 and 6% in 1999. Recovery was upended in the last quarter of 2000 with the outbreak of Palestinian violence, which triggered tight Israeli closures of Palestinian self-rule areas and severely disrupted trade and labor movements. In 2001, and even more severely in 2002, internal turmoil and Israeli military measures in Palestinian Authority areas have resulted in the destruction of much capital plant and administrative structure, widespread business closures, and a sharp drop in GDP. Another major loss has been the decline in earnings of Palestinian workers in Israel.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $2.1 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: -35% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,000 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 9% industry: 28% services: 63% note: includes Gaza Strip (1999 est.) Population below poverty line: 50% (2001 est.) Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1% (includes Gaza Strip) (2001 est.)
Labor force: NA Labor force - by occupation: services 66%, industry 21%, agriculture 13% (1996)
Unemployment rate: 26% (includes Gaza Strip) (2001 est.)
Budget: revenues: $930 million note: includes Gaza Strip (2000 est.) expenditures: $1.2 billion, including capital expenditures of $15 million
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 Nablus 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 - imports: NA kWh
Agriculture - products: olives, citrus, vegetables; beef, dairy products
Exports: $603 million (includes Gaza Strip) (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: olives, fruit, vegetables, limestone
Exports - partners: Israel, Jordan, Gaza Strip
Imports: $1.9 billion (includes Gaza Strip) (c.i.f., 2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: food, consumer goods, construction materials
Imports - partners: Israel, Jordan, Gaza Strip
Debt - external: $108 million (includes Gaza Strip) (1997 est.) Economic aid - recipient: $800 million disbursed (includes Gaza Strip) (2001 est.)
Currency: new Israeli shekel (ILS); Jordanian dinar (JOD)
Currency code: ILS; JOD
Exchange rates: new Israeli shekels per US dollar - 4.2757 (December 2001), 4.2057 (2001), 4.0773 (2000), 4.1397 (1999), 3.8001 (1998), 3.4494 (1997); Jordanian dinars per US dollar - fixed rate of 0.7090 (from 1996)
Fiscal year: calendar year (since 1 January 1992) Communications West Bank Telephones - main lines in use: 95,729 (total for West Bank and Gaza Strip) (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: NA
Telephone system: general assessment: NA domestic: NA international: NA note: Israeli company BEZEK and the Palestinian company PALTEL are responsible for communication services in the West Bank Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 0, shortwave 0 note: the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation broadcasts from an AM station in Ramallah on 675 kHz; numerous local, private stations are reported to be in operation (2000)
Radios: NA; note - most Palestinian households have radios (1999) Television broadcast stations: NA
Televisions: NA; note - many Palestinian households have televisions (1999) Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 8 (1999)
Internet users: 60,000 (includes Gaza Strip) (2001) Transportation West Bank
Railways: 0 km
Highways: total: 4,500 km paved: 2,700 km unpaved: 1,800 km (1997 est.) note: Israelis have developed many highways to service Jewish settlements
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: none
Airports: 3 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 3 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 under 914 m: 1 (2001) Military West Bank
Military expenditures - dollar figure: $NA
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: NA% Transnational Issues West Bank Disputes - international: West Bank and Gaza Strip are Israeli-occupied with current status subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement - permanent status to be determined through further negotiation

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Area (pop., 2002 est.: 2,414,000), Palestine, west of the Jordan River and east of Jerusalem.

Covering an area of about 2,270 sq mi (5,900 sq km), excluding east Jerusalem, the territory is also known within Israel by its biblical names, Judaea and Samaria. It is a region with deep history, forming the heart of historic Palestine. Populated areas include Nabulus, Hebron, Bethlehem, and Jericho. Under a 1947 UN agreement, most of what is now the West Bank was to become part of a Palestinian state. When the State of Israel was formed, the Arabs attacked Israel (see Arab-Israeli wars), and the partition plan was never adopted. Following a truce, Jordan remained in control of the area and annexed it in 1950. Israel subsequently occupied it during the Six-Day War of 1967. During the 1970s and '80s Israel established settlements there, provoking resentment among the Arab population and protest from the international community. Arab uprisings began in 1987 in the Gaza Strip and spread to the West Bank (see intifādah). Jordan relinquished its claims in 1988, ceding them to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Secret meetings between the PLO and Israel in 1993 led to an end of violence and an agreement granting Palestinian self-rule in parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Further negotiations to resolve outstanding issues proceeded intermittently in the 1990s but broke down amid renewed violence in late 2000.

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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.

      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 (Netanyahu, Benjamin).

      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 (Hāshimite) 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 (Begin, Menachem) (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 (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 (Arafāt, Yāsirʿ) 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 (Abbas, Mahmoud) 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.

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Universalium. 2010.

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