West Bank

The West Bank (Arabic: الضفة الغربية‎ aḍ-Ḍaffah l-Ġarbiyyah, Hebrew: הגדה המערבית‎, HaGadah HaMa'aravit, also Hebrew: יהודה ושומרון‎ Yehuda ve-Shomron (Judea and Samaria)) is a landlocked geographical area, located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The West Bank also contains a significant coastline along the western bank of the Dead Sea.

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 2,622,544 (June 2012). More than 80 percent, about 2,000,000, 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.

The West Bank or Cisjordan term has its origins in the Middle Ages, with the creation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Prior to the First World War, the area now known as the West Bank was under Ottoman rule for 400 years as part of the provinces of Syria. At the 1920 San Remo conference, the victorious Allied powers (France, UK, USA, etc.) allocated the area to the British Mandate of Palestine. 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 1949). "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. The interim boundary between Israel and Jordan's West Bank was defined in the 1949 Armistice Agreements. 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.

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.

Since the 1993 Oslo Accords, parts of the West Bank are under full or partial control of the Palestinian Authority. Though 164 nations refer to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as “Occupied Palestinian Territory”, the government of Israel holds that only territories captured in war from “an established and recognized sovereign” should be considered occupied territories. 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.

Read more about West Bank:  History, Geography, Climate, Demographics, Higher Education, Legal Status, Political Positions

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