The West Bank

The West Bank

A landlocked area which forms the bulk of the Occupied Palestinian Territories or ‘OPT’ (the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip). The West Bank borders Jordan across the Jordan River to the east, and is surrounded in all other directions by Israel. East Jerusalem, containing holy sites such as al-Aqsa Mosque, is also part of the West Bank.

The West Bank was occupied by Israel in 1967 following the Six-Day War. Israeli settlements in the area have been condemned by the international community for violation of international law, as an occupying power cannot settle civilians in occupied territory.

Israeli treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank, through a complex “architecture of occupation” including the use of military checkpoints, roadblocks, and the Separation Wall, severely restricts Palestinian freedom of movement. Illegal land seizures as well as violence carried out by Israeli settlers are common occurrences for Palestinians.

Under the Oslo Accords, the West Bank was divided into three administrative areas (A, B and C). Area C, which comprises 61 percent of the West Bank, is under the full control of Israel through the Civil (Military) Administration in the West Bank. Area B, which comprises 22 percent of the West Bank, is under the full administrative control of the Palestinian Authority but under the military control of Israel. Area A makes up 17 percent of the West Bank and is under full Palestinian control.

In November 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak approved the first project to build a “barrier” for proclaimed security reasons and border reinforcement. Construction of the Wall (also known as the Separation Barrier) has included confiscation of Palestinian land and the uprooting of trees. Crucially, the Wall is not being built on, or in most cases even near, the 1967 Green Line (the border between Israel and the West Bank that was agreed upon by Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria in the 1949 Armistice Agreements). Rather, the wall cuts deep into the West Bank, expanding Israel’s seizure of Palestinian land and resources and further inhibiting Palestinian freedom of movement. In total, 85 percent of the Wall is actually located in the West Bank, annexing and fragmenting large swathes of the land and separating many Palestinian communities from each other and turning them into ghettos and “military zones”.

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