The landlocked West Bank - the larger of the two Palestinian territories - is home to some three million Palestinians. Inhabited since at least the 15th century B.C., the West Bank has been dominated by many different peoples throughout its history; it was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in the early 16th century. The West Bank fell to British forces during World War I, becoming part of the British Mandate of Palestine. Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the West Bank was captured by Transjordan (later renamed Jordan), which annexed the West Bank in 1950; it was captured by Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967. Under a series of agreements known as the Oslo Accords signed between 1993 and 1999, Israel transferred to the newly created Palestinian Authority (PA) security and civilian responsibility for many Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip.
In addition to establishing the PA as an interim government, the Oslo Accords divided the West Bank into three areas with one fully managed by the PA, another fully administered by Israel, and a third with shared control until a permanent agreement could be reached between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel. In 2000, a violent intifada or uprising began across the Palestinian territories, and in 2001 negotiations for a permanent agreement between the PLO and Israel on final status issues stalled. Subsequent attempts to re-start direct negotiations have not resulted in progress toward determining final status of the area.
The PA last held national elections in 2006, when the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS) won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Fatah, the dominant Palestinian political faction in the West Bank, and HAMAS failed to maintain a unity government, leading to violent clashes between their respective supporters and HAMAS’s violent seizure of all PA military and governmental institutions in the Gaza Strip in June 2007. In December 2018, the Palestinian Constitutional Court dissolved the PLC. In recent years, Fatah and HAMAS have made several attempts at reconciliation, but the factions have been unable to implement agreements.Since 1994, the PA has administered parts of the West Bank under its control, mainly the major Palestinian population centers and areas immediately surrounding them. Roughly 60% of the West Bank remains under full Israeli civil and military control, impeding movement of people and goods through the territory.
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NOTE: The information regarding West Bank on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of West Bank 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about West Bank 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.
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