The West Bank – what/where is it?

June 10, 2008 by Lisa

You’ve heard of “The West Bank” in news reports. Maybe you’re not so sure if it’s on the coast or inland so you’ve gazed at a map and see that it’s a decent size territory in Israel north of some body of water. What’s the big deal about the West Bank anyway, other than it’s part of the territory of Israel and it’s always in the news?

Do you know what is contained in the West Bank? Do you know WHY they refer to it as “The West Bank” and not by another phrase?

Take a look here and see what places are contained within the famous West Bank.

Let’s see – there’s the eastern section of the religious capital city Jerusalem, all of Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, Nabulus… This is the territory known in the Bible as Judea and Samaria. Now THAT makes more sense, doesn’t it? Judea and Samaria. Oh, okay. Now we know more about what and where this West Bank is. So why don’t they just call it that so the rest of us know what they’re talking about? Do you have any ideas? I’m wagering that it’s because people would get upset if they heard that certain people are wanting to take Judea and Samaria away from Israel. If it stays abstract, nobody really cares. Right?

Do you notice what the map says? “-Israeli occupied-” Do you know what that is intended to imply? That Israel does not belong there. You only occupy territory if you’re an invader. So let’s find out what happened. The West Bank was under Jordanian control for a while, it was called the West Bank of the Jordan River. During the Six-Day War in 1967 Israel captured this territory and it’s part of the nation of Israel still today. Wikipedia says this:

Prior to the First World War, the area now known as the West Bank was under Ottoman rule as part of the province of Syria. In the 1920 San Remo conference, the victorious Allied powers allocated the area to the British Mandate of Palestine. The 1948 Arab-Israeli War saw the establishment of Israel in parts of the former Mandate, while the West Bank was captured and annexed by Jordan, who destroyed any existing Jewish villages. The 1949 Armistice Agreements defined its interim boundary. From 1948 until 1967, the area was under Jordanian rule, and Jordan did not officially relinquish its claim to the area until 1988. Jordan’s claim was never recognized by the international community. The West Bank was captured by Israel during the Six-Day War. With the exception of East Jerusalem it was not annexed by Israel. Most of the residents are Arabs, although large numbers of Israeli settlements have been built in the region.

In 1967 Israel was the conquering country of this territory but it wasn’t till 1988 that Jordan relinquished it’s claim to the territory? Still, 1988 was 20 years ago. Israel hasn’t officially annexed this territory yet, which seems to show that it’s a sensitive political move to do so. Only Israel has claims to this territory, as far as I know, and it is covered under Israeli law. As long as the West Bank has been a part of the country of Israel the Arabs living in that territory have remained and have not been asked (or forced) to leave. That was part of the 1948 request too, “Please don’t leave. Please be comfortable staying here in your homes and your cities. We can live and work together.” Still, the maps say “occupied”. Occupied? Of course they occupy it, it’s part of their territory. That’s like saying the US occupies Hawaii or Texas. Of course. So why say “occupy”? I’m wagering that it’s because it just feeds the anti-Israel cause.

So I ask you to join me in referring to this territory as it should be – this is the area of Judea and Samaria, part of the modern country of Israel. Many Arabs live there, they live in other parts of Israel as well. In the US we have people from other cultures and countries too, so we should understand what it’s like in Israel for there to be people of various nationalities living in one country. Next time you hear a news report concerning The West Bank, remember just what and where that is and remind yourself that “This is happening in Judea and Samaria”.

Some 500,000 Jews live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem among 2.7 million Palestinians. Some want to push their neighbors into the sea and others want all the fighting to go away so they can make a living, raise their children and live a peaceful life in the land of their ancestors along side their neighbors.