West Bank

This term refers to the area of land west of the Jordan River that Israel captured from Jordan in 1967.

Definition

The term West Bank refers to the area of land west of the Jordan River that Israel captured from Jordan in 1967. This area contains four distinct administrative statuses:

  • Palestinian Areas under Israeli Control – The Palestinian populated territories which are under Israeli Civil Administration (Areas C);
  • Israeli Settlements – Areas under Israeli law, although not officially annexed;
  • East Jerusalem – Israel annexed East Jerusalem (including some surrounding villages in the West Bank) to the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem;
  • Palestinian areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority – some under both security and administrative control (Areas A) and some under administrative control only (Areas B).

Background

1948 Israeli War of Independence – The territory which today comprise the West Bank was captured by Jordan in the 1948 war. In 1949, Israel and Jordan signed an Armistice Agreement (4/49) confirming Jordanian control over the West Bank.

Jordanian Control (1948-1967)

1950 Annexation – In 1950, King Abdallah of Jordan formally annexed the West Bank, thereby uniting the two banks of the Jordan River under the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Most countries did not recognize Jordan's annexation as legal.

West Bank Palestinians (refugees and non-refugees1) were given full citizenship.

Israeli Control (1967-Present)

Israeli Administration – After Israel took control of the West Bank from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt (4/6/67), it established a distinct military government in accordance with the international law of occupation.2 Nevertheless, Israel disputes the applicability of the laws of occupation outlined in the Geneva Convention to the West Bank.3

UN Resolution 242 and 338 – Resolutions calling for a just and peaceful solution based on an Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967 which included the West Bank.4

1978 Camp David Accords – Called for the establishment of a Palestinian Self-Governing Authority in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.5

1988 Jordanian Renunciation of Claims - On July 31 King Hussein announced the severance of all administrative and legal ties with the West Bank.6

The Oslo Process (1993-2001)

Declaration of Principles7 (9/93) – Israel and the PLO formally recognized the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a Single Territorial Unit.

Gaza-Jericho Agreement (5/94) – The Palestinian Authority was established in the Gaza Strip and the city of Jericho.8 This agreement also incorporated the Paris Protocol which established a Customs Envelope9 that includes the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Israel.

Interim Agreement (9/95) – This agreement laid out the division of the West Bank territory into three areas: Area A – Under Palestinian security and administrative control; Area B – Under Palestinian administrative control and Israeli security control; Area C – Under both Israeli security and administrative control.

2005 Gaza Disengagement

In the Disengagement Plan Israel withdrew from parts of the Northern West Bank and from the Gaza Strip and dismantled Israeli settlements.

As opposed to the Gaza Strip, Israel has thus far made no indication that it intends to relinquish Responsibility over the West Bank.


1 Ginat, Joseph and Edward J. Perkins eds., The Palestinian Refugees: Old Problems – New Solutions, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 2001, pp.154-55.
2 Benvenisti Eyal, The International Law of Occupation, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1993, p.107.
3 Some Israeli lawyers argue that the Geneva Convention only deals with "occupation of territory of a High Contracting Party". Consequently, since the Jordanian annexation was not legal, Jordan could not represent the West Bank as such a party at the Convention. In addition, as the West Bank itself was not a signatory to the Convention's regulations do not apply. The Israeli Supreme Court will not review West Bank administration in light of the Fourth Geneva Convention as it views the Convention as treaty law and therefore beyond the scope of its jurisdiction. Benvenisti, pp.118-119.
4 Resolution 242 was passed in the aftermath of the 1967 War, whereas resolution 338 was passed during the 1973 War.
5 No distinction was made between these two territories.
6 Two days earlier, King Hussein formally dissolved Parliament, ending West Bank representation in the legislature. Prior to 1989, Jordan’s last parliamentary elections were held in April of 1967, two months prior to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.
7 See The Declaration of Principles, Article IV: Jurisdiction: "The two sides view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit, whose integrity will be preserved during the interim period"
8 Ruth Lapidoth, "An Israeli View: Unity Does not Require Uniformity", Bitterlemons.org, 22/8/05, paragraph 3.
9 A Customs Envelope is a singular area under the control of one sovereign actor which imposes uniform taxes on imports and exports. No additional customs or tariffs are imposed within this internal arrangement