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Middle East :: West Bank
page last updated on October 28, 2009
Location of West Bank
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Map of West Bank
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Introduction ::West Bank
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The September 1993 Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements provided for a transitional period of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Under a series of agreements signed between May 1994 and September 1999, Israel transferred to the Palestinian Authority (PA) security and civilian responsibility for Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank and Gaza. Negotiations to determine the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza stalled following the outbreak of an intifada in September 2000, as Israeli forces reoccupied most Palestinian-controlled areas. In April 2003, the Quartet (US, EU, UN, and Russia) presented a roadmap to a final settlement of the conflict by 2005 based on reciprocal steps by the two parties leading to two states, Israel and a democratic Palestine. The proposed date for a permanent status agreement was postponed indefinitely due to violence and accusations that both sides had not followed through on their commitments. Following Palestinian leader Yasir ARAFAT's death in late 2004, Mahmud ABBAS was elected PA president in January 2005. A month later, Israel and the PA agreed to the Sharm el-Sheikh Commitments in an effort to move the peace process forward. In September 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew all its settlers and soldiers and dismantled its military facilities in the Gaza Strip and withdrew settlers and redeployed soldiers from four small northern West Bank settlements. Nonetheless, Israel controls maritime, airspace, and most access to the Gaza Strip. A November 2005 PA-Israeli agreement authorized the reopening of the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt under joint PA and Egyptian control. In January 2006, the Islamic Resistance Movement, HAMAS, won control of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The international community refused to accept the HAMAS-led government because it did not recognize Israel, would not renounce violence, and refused to honor previous peace agreements between Israel and the PA. HAMAS took control of the PA government in March 2006, but President ABBAS had little success negotiating with HAMAS to present a political platform acceptable to the international community so as to lift economic sanctions on Palestinians. The PLC was unable to convene throughout most of 2006 as a result of Israel's detention of many HAMAS PLC members and Israeli-imposed travel restrictions on other PLC members. Violent clashes took place between Fatah and HAMAS supporters in the Gaza Strip in 2006 and early 2007, resulting in numerous Palestinian deaths and injuries. ABBAS and HAMAS Political Bureau Chief MISHAL in February 2007 signed the Mecca Agreement in Saudi Arabia that resulted in the formation of a Palestinian National Unity Government (NUG) headed by HAMAS member Ismail HANIYA. However, fighting continued in the Gaza Strip, and in June 2007, HAMAS militants succeeded in a violent takeover of all military and governmental institutions in the Gaza Strip. ABBAS dismissed the NUG and through a series of presidential decrees formed a PA government in the West Bank led by independent Salam FAYYAD. HAMAS rejected the NUG's dismissal and has called for resuming talks with Fatah, but ABBAS has ruled out negotiations until HAMAS agrees to a return of PA control over the Gaza Strip and recognizes the FAYYAD-led government. FAYYAD and his PA government initiated a series of security and economic reforms to improve conditions in the West Bank. ABBAS participated in talks with Israel's Prime Minister OLMERT and secured the release of some Palestinian prisoners and previously withheld customs revenue. During a November 2007 international meeting in Annapolis Maryland, ABBAS and OLMERT agreed to resume peace negotiations with the goal of reaching a final peace settlement.
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Geography ::West Bank
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Middle East, west of Jordan
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32 00 N, 35 15 E
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total: 5,860 sq km
country comparison to the world: 171
land: 5,640 sq km
water: 220 sq km
note: includes West Bank, Latrun Salient, and the northwest quarter of the Dead Sea, but excludes Mt. Scopus; East Jerusalem and Jerusalem No Man's Land are also included only as a means of depicting the entire area occupied by Israel in 1967
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slightly smaller than Delaware
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total: 404 km
border countries: Israel 307 km, Jordan 97 km
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0 km (landlocked)
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none (landlocked)
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temperate; temperature and precipitation vary with altitude, warm to hot summers, cool to mild winters
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mostly rugged dissected upland, some vegetation in west, but barren in east
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lowest point: Dead Sea -408 m
highest point: Tall Asur 1,022 m
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arable land
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arable land: 16.9%
permanent crops: 18.97%
other: 64.13% (2001)
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150 sq km; note - includes Gaza Strip (2003)
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droughts
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adequacy of fresh water supply; sewage treatment
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landlocked; highlands are main recharge area for Israel's coastal aquifers; there are about 340 Israeli civilian sites - including 100 small outpost communities in the West Bank and 29 sites in East Jerusalem (July 2008 est.)
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People ::West Bank
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2,461,267
country comparison to the world: 140
note: in addition, there are about 187,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank and fewer than 177,000 in East Jerusalem (July 2009 est.)
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0-14 years: 37.3% (male 470,735/female 446,878)
15-64 years: 59.1% (male 744,822/female 708,695)
65 years and over: 3.7% (male 37,471/female 52,666) (2009 est.)
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total: 20.5 years
male: 20.4 years
female: 20.8 years (2009 est.)
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2.178% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 45
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25.44 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 68
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3.66 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 210
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0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 81
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urban population: 72% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 3.3% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
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at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
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total: 15.96 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 123
male: 17.87 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 13.93 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
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total population: 74.54 years
country comparison to the world: 89
male: 72.54 years
female: 76.65 years (2009 est.)
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3.22 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 65
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NA
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NA
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NA
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noun: NA
adjective: NA
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Palestinian Arab and other 83%, Jewish 17%
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Muslim 75% (predominantly Sunni), Jewish 17%, Christian and other 8%
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Arabic, Hebrew (spoken by Israeli settlers and many Palestinians), English (widely understood)
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 92.4%
male: 96.7%
female: 88% (2004 est.)
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total: 14 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2006)
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NA
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Government ::West Bank
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conventional long form: none
conventional short form: West Bank
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Economy ::West Bank
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The West Bank - the larger of the two areas comprising the Palestinian Authority (PA) - has experienced a general decline in economic conditions since the second intifada began in September 2000. The downturn has been largely a result of Israeli closure policies - the imposition of closures and access restrictions in response to security concerns in Israel - which disrupted labor and trading relationships. In 2001, and even more severely in 2002, Israeli military measures in PA areas resulted in the destruction of capital, the disruption of administrative structures, and widespread business closures. International aid of at least $1.14 billion to the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2004 prevented the complete collapse of the economy and allowed some reforms in the government's financial operations. In 2005, high unemployment and limited trade opportunities - due to continued closures both within the West Bank and externally - stymied growth. Israel's and the international community's financial embargo of the PA when HAMAS ran the PA during March 2006 - June 2007 interrupted the provision of PA social services and the payment of PA salaries. Since then the FAYYAD government in the West Bank has restarted salary payments and the provision of services but would be unable to operate absent high levels of international assistance.
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$11.95 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 142
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
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$6.641 billion (2008 est.) (2008 est.)
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0.8% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 185
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$2,900 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 167
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
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agriculture: 8%
industry: 13%
services: 79% (includes Gaza Strip) (2007 est.)
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605,000 (2006)
country comparison to the world: 149
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agriculture: 17%
industry: 15%
services: 68% (June 2008)
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16.3% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 158
18.6% (2006)
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46% (2007 est.)
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lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
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revenues: $1.149 billion
expenditures: $2.31 billion
note: includes Gaza Strip (2006)
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11.5% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 166
3.6% (2006)
note: data in include Gaza Strip
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NA% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 111
7.73% (31 December 2006)
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$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 101
$1.574 billion (31 December 2007)
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$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 95
$3.048 billion (31 December 2007)
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$359.7 million (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 151
$368.2 million (31 December 2007)
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$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 94
$2.475 billion (31 December 2007)
$2.729 billion (31 December 2006)
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olives, citrus, vegetables; beef, dairy products
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cement, quarrying, textiles, soap, olive-wood carvings, and mother-of-pearl souvenirs; the Israelis have established some small-scale, modern industries in the settlements and industrial centers
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2.4% (includes Gaza Strip) (2005)
country comparison to the world: 96
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500 million kWh; note - most electricity imported from Israel; East Jerusalem Electric Company buys and distributes electricity to Palestinians in East Jerusalem and its concession in the West Bank; the Israel Electric Company directly supplies electricity to most Jewish residents and military facilities; some Palestinian municipalities, such as Nablus and Janin, generate their own electricity from small power plants
country comparison to the world: 160
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3.265 billion kWh
country comparison to the world: 121
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2.8 billion kWh
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bbl NA
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$339 million (2006)
country comparison to the world: 172
$301 million (2005)
note: includes Gaza Strip
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olives, fruit, vegetables, limestone
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$1.3 billion (2006)
country comparison to the world: 165
$2.44 billion (2005)
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food, consumer goods, construction materials
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$1.3 billion (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148
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new Israeli shekels (ILS) per US dollar - 3.56 (2008 est.), 4.14 (2007), 4.4565 (2006), 4.4877 (2005), 4.482 (2004)
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Communications ::West Bank
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348,000 (includes Gaza Strip) (2008)
country comparison to the world: 111
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1.153 million (includes Gaza Strip) (2008)
country comparison to the world: 140
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general assessment: NA
domestic: Israeli company BEZEK and the Palestinian company PALTEL are responsible for fixed line services; the Palestinian JAWAL company provides cellular services
international: country code - 970 (2004)
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AM 0, FM 25, shortwave 0 (2008)
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30 (2008)
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.ps; note - same as Gaza Strip
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356,000 (includes Gaza Strip) (2008)
country comparison to the world: 118
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Transportation ::West Bank
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2 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 204
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total: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2009)
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total: 5,147 km
country comparison to the world: 153
paved: 5,147 km
note: includes Gaza Strip (2006)
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Military ::West Bank
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males age 16-49: 545,653
females age 16-49: 515,102 (2009 est.)
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male: 30,233
female: 28,745 (2009 est.)
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NA
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Transnational Issues ::West Bank
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West Bank and Gaza Strip are Israeli-occupied with current status subject to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement - permanent status to be determined through further negotiation; Israel continues construction of a "seam line" separation barrier along parts of the Green Line and within the West Bank; Israel withdrew from four settlements in the northern West Bank in August 2005; since 1948, about 350 peacekeepers from the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), headquartered in Jerusalem, monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating, and assist other UN personnel in the region
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refugees (country of origin): 722,000 (Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA)) (2007)
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