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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 the 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 many Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Negotiations to determine the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip stalled following the outbreak of an intifada in September 2000. 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. 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 of 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 still controls maritime, airspace, and other access to the Gaza Strip. In January 2006, the Islamic Resistance Movement, HAMAS, won control of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). 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. Violent clashes between Fatah and HAMAS supporters in the Gaza Strip in 2006 and early 2007 resulted in numerous Palestinian deaths and injuries. In February 2007, ABBAS and HAMAS Political Bureau Chief Khalid MISHAL 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 that same month dismissed the NUG and through a series of presidential decrees formed a PA government in the West Bank led by independent Salam FAYYAD. Fatah and HAMAS in May 2011, under the auspices of Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation negotiations, agreed to reunify the Palestinian territories, but the factions have struggled to finalize details on governing and security structures. The status quo remains with HAMAS in control of the Gaza Strip and ABBAS and the Fatah-dominated PA governing the West Bank. FAYYAD and his PA government continue to implement a series of security and economic reforms to improve conditions in the West Bank. ABBAS, who on behalf of the Palestinians in September submitted a UN membership application, has said he will not resume negotiations with current Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin NETANYAHU until Israel halts all settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.


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Middle East, west of Jordan, east of Israel

Geographic coordinates
32 00 N, 35 15 E

Map references
Middle East

Area World Ranking: 172
Total 5,860 sq km
Land 5,640 sq km
Water 220 sq km
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

Area - comparative
Slightly smaller than Delaware

Land boundaries
Total 404 km
Border countries Israel 307 km, Jordan 97 km

0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims
None (landlocked)

Temperate; temperature and precipitation vary with altitude, warm to hot summers, cool to mild winters

Mostly rugged dissected upland, some vegetation in west, but barren in east

Elevation extremes
Lowest point Dead Sea -408 m
Highest point Tall Asur 1,022 m

Natural resources
Arable land

Land use
Arable land 16.9%
Permanent crops 18.97%
Other 64.13% (2001)

Irrigated land
180 sq km; note - includes Gaza Strip (2003)

Natural hazards

Environment - current issues
Adequacy of freshwater supply; sewage treatment

Geography - note
Landlocked; highlands are main recharge area for Israel's coastal aquifers; there are about 355 Israeli civilian sites including about 145 small outpost communities in the West Bank and 32 sites in East Jerusalem (2010 est.)


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West Bank:
Country Locator

GPS points from West Bank

square Magharat Ar Rukn West Bank (general)

square Khirbat Al Mutilla West Bank (general)

square Kafr Rumman West Bank (general)

square `ayn Al `usfurah West Bank (general)

square `ayn Al Masyunah West Bank (general)

square `ayn Bubin West Bank (general)

square Gane Modi`in West Bank (general)

square `ayn Al Buwayrah West Bank (general)

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