Jerusalem and the West Bank
Prior to 1948 Jerusalem, the West Bank (also known by its biblical name Judea and Samaria), and wider Transjordan were under the control of the British Mandate.
In 1946 Jordan was granted independence, and in 1948 the State of Israel was born amidst the first Arab Israeli war. During the war thousands of Arab Palestinians fled the fighting and took refuge in the West Bank. The Armistice Agreement of 1949 granted Jordanian control of the West Bank, and Jordan formally annexed the West Bank in 1950. Jordan controlled the area known as the West Bank and East Jerusalem (including the Old City) until 1967. During this time Israel controlled West Jerusalem, and the Holy City of Jerusalem was split in two. Jordan and Israel were separated by a ceasefire line known as ‘the green line’.
After a difficult regional war in 1967 (known as ‘The Six Day War’), Israel conquered this territory from Jordan, annexing Jerusalem and offering all residents of East Jerusalem Israeli citizenship (although refused its uptake on ideological grounds).
After its peace deal with Israel in 1994, Jordan relinquished any claim to the West Bank, with the view that most if not all of it might become part of a future Palestinian state. Today the West Bank is split between areas controlled or partially controlled by the Palestinian Authority, and areas still administered by the Israeli Defence Forces. In very simple terms, Area A of the West Bank is under Palestinian Authority civil and military control; Area B is under Palestinian Authority civil control and joint Palestinian Authority and Israeli military control; Area C is under Israeli civil and military control. Jews who have moved to areas over the ‘green line’ (also in East Jerusalem) are often referred to as ‘settlers’, and there is significant debate about the legitimacy of their presence in these areas.
The entire topic of the history, legal status and future of Jerusalem and the West Bank is far from simple. Yet it is fascinating and crucially important to the stability and future of the entire region. Your expert guide will explain in detail about the current status of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, what the sticking points are, and how they may be resolved. You will have the opportunity to visit Jewish settlements and Palestinian controlled towns such as Ramallah – a thriving and lively Arab City, where we will be happy to facilitate meetings with local people, leading experts and NGOs partnering for peace. Also a source of controversy is the separation barrier (also known as ‘the fence’, or ‘the wall’) that surrounds much of the West Bank, and you will be able to see it from different vantage points and understand the different perspectives around its construction.
Jerusalem was the most eye-opening and informational while making us feel like we wanted to know more and more. We keep saying we feel like we received a master’s degree in Religion, culture, Israel, Politics in one week.
Rachel B, Colorado
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