West Bank

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West Bank

The West Bank ( Arabic الضفة الغربية, DMG aḍ-Ḍaffa al-Ġarbiyya, aḍ-Ḍiffa al-Ġarbiyya , Hebrew הגדה המערבית haGada haMa'arawit ) or West Bank ( English West Bank ), also Cisjordan , in Israel officially Judea and Samaria ( Hebrew יהודה ושומרון Yehuda we-Shomron ), is an area in the Middle East west of Jordan and east of Israel with an area of ​​about 5800 square kilometers; around 220 square kilometers of this is water. Of the estimated 2.4 million residents of the area in 2012, 83 percent are Palestinians and 17 percent are Jews , who live in an estimated 355 Israeli settlements and their outposts.

The area is known in the Bible as the settlement area of ​​various Canaanite peoples, namely the Phoenicians , the Samaritans and the Hebrews . The latter also established the kingdoms of Israel and Judas . In the course of its several thousand year history, the area has been conquered and occupied many times ; Parts of it belonged to the ancient empires of Assyria , Egypt , Persia and Rome and later to the Abbasid Caliphate , the Ottoman Empire and the British Empire .

As part of the British League of Nations mandate for Palestine , the UN General Assembly awarded the West Bank to the Arab state to be founded in the partition plan of 1947 . It was occupied by Jordan in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948 and annexed in 1950 . It was conquered by Israel in the Six Day War of June 1967 and has been under Israeli military administration ever since, while East Jerusalem and the surrounding area were annexed by Israel in 1980 - in violation of international law, according to a UN resolution. Since 1993 parts of the West Bank, including the cities of Jericho, Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Bethlehem and 80% of Hebron, have been administered by the Palestinian Authority (PNA).

  • Palestinian self-government area, "Area A" according to the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (Oslo Agreement),
  • Palestinian self-government area under the control of the Israeli military (Area B).
  • Managed by the Israeli military (Area C);
  • Israeli settlement,
  • Outpost of an Israeli settlement,
  • communal area of ​​the settlement (prohibited to Palestinians).
  • Status of West Bank Territories in accordance with the Oslo agreements:
  • Territory annexed by Israel
  • Area A : Palestinian Police and Civil Control
  • Area B : Israeli-Palestinian Police and Palestinian Civil Control
  • Area C : Israel Police and Civil Control
  • Concept history

    The most common name for this part of Palestine since the middle of the last century is the English name West Bank , in German also known as West Bank . These names refer to the land west of the Jordan River and the state of (Trans) Jordan . Bank stands for the English word for bank , embankment .

    The terms West Bank and East Bank were coined by the Jordanian King Abdallah I , who translated these English terms into Arabic, where they became popular and from which they were then translated back into English.

    Area of ​​the League of
    Nations mandate for Palestine within the borders from 1920 to 1923 (orange) as a former intended home for the Jewish people

    At the time of British rule ( League of Nations mandate for Palestine ), the terms Cis-Jordan and Trans-Jordan , also Western and Eastern Palestine, were in use. Both Winston Churchill and the politician Zeev Jabotinsky spoke of "the two banks of the river". Eastern Palestine, also known as the East Bank, was separated from the Mandate Palestine by the British and became an emirate under the name of Transjordan , which gained independence in 1946 as the Kingdom of Transjordan . In the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948, Transjordan conquered the eastern part of Jerusalem and large parts of the area of ​​western Palestine designated as an Arab state in the UN partition plan. After the military occupation and subsequent annexation of the territories of western Palestine conquered in 1948, the state was renamed in 1950 and henceforth referred to as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan . Today the Arab state of Jordan finally returned all claims to its former occupied territory. The name Cisjordanien , which is still in use today in the Romance languages, means translated on this side of the Jordan River , analogously to Transjordan means on the other side of the Jordan River .

    “Judea and Samaria” as the name for the whole area goes back to the New Testament and was also used in reverse order. Sometimes terms such as the hill country of Samaria or Judea were and are used.

    The original names Yehuda and Shomron can already be found in the Jewish Bible. Jehudah , Greek and Latin Judea , is the hilly area south of Jerusalem, Shomron , Greek and Latin Samaria , that north of the city to south of Galilee . In Israel, the area has been referred to as Judea and Samaria (Jehuda we'Schomron) in official publications since the 1970s .


    The course of the barrier in 2011
    Barrier: mostly a security fence (here south of Hebron )
    Barriers near Jewish settlements: in a few places stronger security fortifications

    The West Bank has a border of 404 kilometers, of which 307 kilometers with Israel and 97 kilometers with Jordan. It is demarcated from Jordan by the Jordan and the Dead Sea , but there is no natural limit to Israel. The 1949 Armistice Line , often referred to as the Green Line , arches south from the Sea of ​​Galilee towards Jerusalem , which it cuts through, and reaches the Dead Sea in another arc southeast of Hebron .

    In Resolution 242 in November 1967 in addition to the withdrawal of Israeli forces from is "secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force" (the) areas that were occupied in the recent conflict, the right of every state in the region stressed.

    Since around 2003, the Israeli government-operated construction of the Israeli barrier , which only runs along the Green Line in a few places and cuts deep into the West Bank in the larger Israeli settlement blocks , has been causing some fierce criticism . Israel founds the barrier system, which is largely a fence-like barrier, designed as a protective wall in a few places, with the protection of Israeli national territory and Israeli citizens from radical Islamic Arab terrorists and suicide bombers and describes the system as provisional. More than 1,000 Israelis were killed in attacks by Palestinians on Israeli buses, night clubs and coffee houses. The terror war lost its intensity in the wake of the slow peace negotiations, but also because Israel sealed off the West Bank with the barrier from Israel, which makes uncontrolled border crossing very difficult.

    Traffic routes are cut through the barrier and residents are temporarily expropriated. This is clearly evident in the area east of Jerusalem and near Qalqiliya , where access to the Arab heartland is made more difficult for the Arab majority population in large Arab metropolitan areas, in order to protect the Jewish minority population from Arab terrorist attacks and suicide bombings. The official Palestinian side warns against a planned annexation. An expert opinion on behalf of the International Court of Justice in The Hague comes to the conclusion that the separation of areas from the heartland by the barrier is illegal.


    The population of the West Bank is estimated differently depending on the source. The CIA estimates an estimated total population of 2,622,544 in 2012, including the population of East Jerusalem, of which about 311,100 Israeli Jewish settlers in the West Bank and about 187,000 in East Jerusalem. Assuming a population of around 435,000 in East Jerusalem, including 245,000 Arabs, one can assume a population of around 2,200,000 in the rest of the West Bank, including a good 300,000 Jewish settlers.

    The West Bank is still home to some refugee camps for Palestinian refugees who fled what is now Israel in 1947/48. However, this part of the population is increasingly being absorbed by the local Palestinian population.

    The Arab part of the population is growing mainly due to a high birth rate. The number of Jewish residents is also increasing, but depends heavily on the political situation and the construction of new settlements. In 2009 the population of Israel grew by 1.8 percent. The growth of the Jewish population was 1.6 percent. In the same year, the settlements in the West Bank grew by 5.6 percent. 40 percent of this is due to immigration from Israel and abroad. The Israeli military jurisdiction applies to the Arab population, while the Jewish population is subject to civil jurisdiction.

    The proportion of Christians at the beginning of the 20th century was 11 percent. As a result of the Palestine War and the Six Day War , a large part of the Christian population emigrated . In 2017, the Christian population in the West Bank was 1.7 percent.

    Jewish settlements

    Peace offer made by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with a solution to the settlement problem through a territorial exchange
    The Jewish settlement of Ariel
    The Jewish settlement of Chemdat in the Jordan Valley

    The first 30 settlements were built in the West Bank between 1967 and 1977. The first settlement was Kfar Etzion in what is now Gush Etzion commune . At the end of 2010 there were more than 200 Israeli Jewish settlements and around 145 unauthorized, mostly smaller so-called “outposts” in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem). There are also 32 larger and smaller Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, which was added to the city of Jerusalem in 1980. The annexation of East Jerusalem was condemned by the United Nations Security Council in resolution 478 and declared to be contrary to international law and is not recognized by the international community.

    According to the agreements in the 2002/2003 roadmap, which the Palestinians had rejected , all Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank should have been frozen. Not only Russia sees Israel's continuous settlement construction in the occupied territories as a violation of the roadmap, but also the USA is now calling for a complete settlement freeze, also in East Jerusalem. Israel is sticking to its claim to all of Jerusalem and is defending new construction activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem with the concept of “natural growth”.

    Since the roadmap was accepted by Israel from 2002/2003 to 2009, the Jewish population of the settlements in the West Bank has grown from 211,400 to over 289,600. That corresponds to a growth of approx. 37 percent in six years. Contrary to the presentation of the Israeli government that it is only a question of “natural growth”, one can assume a targeted immigration policy. This is also confirmed by Shaul Arieli, former Israeli brigade commander for the Gaza Strip and former head of the Israeli governmental Peace Administration, in his analysis.

    Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor accused the US administration of President Barack Obama of disregarding existing oral and written agreements with the previous government of George W. Bush that allow Israel to expand settlements by calling for a settlement freeze in the West Bank . This is countered by the agreements set out in the roadmap under George W. Bush. The then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also admitted in 2008 that the construction of settlements was in contradiction to Israel's promises.

    Most of the Jewish population in the West Bank is concentrated in the vicinity of Jerusalem and Modi'in Illit on the western edge of the West Bank.

    Significance from an Israeli military strategic point of view

    In terms of military strategy, Israel uses the West Bank as a buffer zone against possible military attacks by neighboring countries. The stationing of anti-aircraft batteries in the higher areas is also intended to enable greater security through longer reaction times. The military security architecture of Israel does not seem to be willing or able to do without these positions at the moment.

    Religious Significance of the West Bank for Jews

    Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud speaks of the cultural and religious importance of the West Bank as follows: “The relationship between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel has existed for over 3500 years. Judea and Samaria are the places where our ancestors Abraham , Isaac and Jacob stayed, as well as David , Solomon and Jeremiah . They do not represent a foreign land, but the land of our ancestors. "


    Ramallah 2010
    Market in the old town of Hebron with empty stalls 2006


    The agricultural products of the Palestinian and Israeli farmers are typically Mediterranean. Are grown avocados , dates , citrus plants , but also wine and olives and cut flowers, and the Dead Sea bath salts are obtained. There is also a little cattle breeding.

    Import duties to the EU

    The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) concluded an agreement with Israel in 1993, which enables the duty-free import of Israeli goods into these countries. In 1995 the European Union signed a free trade agreement with almost all Mediterranean countries, including Israel, as part of the Barcelona Process . The EU and Israel laid down preferential trading conditions, including in the customs area. The agreement entered into force in 2000. The only exceptions are products that are grown and manufactured in the West Bank.

    The European Court of Justice ruled in a decision of February 25, 2010 (case: C-386/08) that the goods manufactured in territories occupied by Israel, here by Soda Club , which are manufactured in Mishor Adumim in the West Bank, are not are considered Israeli products and are therefore not exempt from customs duties in the EU.


    Criticism comes e.g. B. from Amnesty International : Products that were manufactured in settlements in the occupied territories and still declared as "Made in Israel" are a violation of international law, as there is no recognition of this area under international law. After a lawsuit by the Psagot winery , the European Court of Justice ruled in November 2019 that the products from the settlements should be labeled accordingly.

    Expropriations and alleged unequal access to resources such as groundwater are also criticized.

    With the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign , Palestinian organizations, to which numerous organizations and individuals have joined, are demanding a boycott of Israeli goods, not only those of Jewish settlers in the West Bank but also from all over Israel, as well as a boycott of cultural and scientific encounters in every form.


    The traffic takes place exclusively on the street. The West Bank has a road network of around 4500 kilometers, of which 2700 kilometers are paved. There are four types of roads: the mostly poorly developed roads that are accessible to all vehicles, roads that are free for vehicles with Israeli plates , roads that are only accessible for vehicles with Palestinian plates with a special permit, roads that are reserved for vehicles with Israeli plates and roads closed to Israeli vehicles. The use of the roads is checked at border checkpoints. There are three asphalt airfields, but they are not used for civilian purposes.


    The Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem criticizes Israeli policies that forbid Palestinians from using certain roads. This makes it impossible for Palestinians to reach villages in some places. In addition, in some places the Palestinians are forbidden from just crossing streets. As a result, some places can only be reached on foot.


    For cities in the West Bank, see List of Cities in the Palestinian Territories or Places in Palestine

    Culture and sights

    See also

    Web links

    Commons : West Bank  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
    Wiktionary: West Bank  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Wiktionary: West Bank  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Wiktionary: Cisjordanien  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Wikivoyage: West Bank  Travel Guide

    Individual evidence

    1. a b c d e CIA The World Factbook: West Bank. CIA , June 20, 2012, accessed July 9, 2012 .
    2. Resolution 478 of the UN Security Council. Retrieved July 20, 2016 .
    3. ^ Joel Beinin: Press Information Notes 1: The Demise of the Oslo Process. MERIP, March 26, 1999, archived from the original on August 16, 2000 ; accessed on June 26, 2017 (English).
    4. ^ Zeev Jabotinsky: The East Bank of the Jordan. Retrieved July 9, 2012 .
    5. Necessary, legitimate and provisional - Shimon Stein, Israeli ambassador in Berlin on the Israeli barrier, Germany radio interview by Hans-Joachim Wiese from February 23, 2004
    6. Petra Ramsauer: Muslim Brothers: Your Secret Strategy. Your Global Network , Styriabooks, 2014, ISBN 978-3-99040-260-3 , Chapter 3: Egypt.
    7. ^ Moshe Zuckermann : A wall is being built - Israel has reached a crossroads . In: From Politics and Contemporary History , No. 35–36, September 9, 2002
    8. ^ IGH Legal Consequences of the construction of a wall in the occupied Palestinian territory . (PDF) WG Peace Research , July 9, 2004 (English)
    9. Chart: Settler Population in East Jerusalem, 2005–2009. (No longer available online.) In: fmep.org. Foundation for Middle East Peace, July 2011, archived from the original April 14, 2013 ; accessed on December 29, 2019 (English).
    10. Jewish settlements in the West Bank continue to grow . ( Memento of the original from February 4, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. In: Der Standard , October 27, 2006 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / derstandard.at
    11. Ronit Sela: No equal rights for everyone in the West Bank. In: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Israel Office. May 31, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2017 .
    12. The tripartite West Bank. In: Südwest Presse . February 24, 2012, accessed June 21, 2017 .
    13. Alexandra Föderl-Schmid: This is how Christians feel in the Middle East. Süddeutsche Zeitung , December 24, 2017, accessed on August 2, 2018 .
    14. Dror Etkes: West Bank: the system of land acquisition. About the ongoing process of expropriating Palestinian lands for the benefit of Israeli settlers. In: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Israel Office. August 31, 2017. Retrieved September 28, 2017 .
    15. ↑ The dispute over Israel's settlement plan comes to a head. German wave
    16. B'Tselem : The settlement expansion: no "natural growth". In: tlaxcala.es. July 11, 2009. Retrieved September 28, 2017 .
    17. Jörg Lau: "Natural growth": the great vertigo . Zeit online , weblog, June 3, 2009
    18. ^ Settlement construction in the West Bank: Olmert admits violations of the roadmap . Spiegel Online , January 5, 2008; accessed on August 22, 2014
    19. Yaakov Amidror: Military-Strategic Aspects of the Topography of the West Bank with a View to the Security of the State of Israel. Jerusalem Center, accessed August 22, 2014 .
    20. Sebastian Engelbrecht: “We're not giving up!” The history of the Israeli settler movement. Report from Deutschlandfunk dated August 1, 2009, accessed on October 7, 2009.
    21. ^ Imports from Israel into the Community (warning) . ( Memento of October 16, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Federal Customs Administration
    22. ECJ: Judgment case: C-386/08
    23. ECJ: No duty exemption for products from the occupied Palestinian territories according to the EC-Israel Association Agreement
    24. Made in Israel . In: ai-Journal , November 2003
    25. Gideon Levy and Alex Levac: "Gideon Levy Something's Rotten at This Settlement Winery - and We Don't Mean the Grapes" Haaretz.com of November 21, 2019; Die Welt, November 12, 2019
    26. ^ A b Forbidden Roads. Israel's Discriminatory Road Regime in the West Bank . (PDF; 1.8 MB) B'Tselem , Information Sheet August 2004 (English) accessed on September 10, 2013

    Coordinates: 31 ° 58 '  N , 35 ° 18'  E