| ||At the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a dispute over land and borders. The geography of the conflict revolves around the three territorial units of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, defined by armistice lines drawn after a war in the region in 1948. Since then, military action, settlement and population growth have also shaped the situation on the ground. |
Pre-9147: British Control
|British control: Sykes-Picot|
The Sykes-Picot agreement was a secret understanding concluded in 1916 between Great Britain and France, with the assent of Russia, for the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. The agreement was not implemented, but it established the principles for the division a few years later of the Turkish-held region into the French and British-administered areas of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine.
| ||British control: Mandate Palestine|
Palestine - comprising what are now Israel, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jordan - was among several former Ottoman Arab territories placed under the administration of Great Britain by the League of Nations. The mandate lasted from 1920 to 1948. In 1923 Britain granted limited autonomy to Transjordan, now known as Jordan.
1947-1949: Israel Founded
|Israel founded: UN partition plan|
The United Nations General Assembly decided in 1947 on the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem to be an international city. The plan, which was rejected by the native Arabs, was never implemented.
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Israel founded: Armistice
War broke out in 1948 when Britain withdrew, the Jews declared the state of Israel and troops from neighbouring Arab nations moved in. After eight months of fighting an armistice line was agreed, establishing the West Bank and Gaza Strip as distinct geographical units.
1967: The Six Day War
|Six-Day War: Before the war|
From 1948 to 1967, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, was ruled by Jordan. During this period, the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian military administration. Israeli troops captured Egypt's Sinai peninsula during the 1956 British, French and Israeli military campaign in response to the nationalisation of the Suez Canal. The Israelis subsequently withdrew and were replaced with a UN force. In 1967, Egypt ordered the UN troops out and blocked Israeli shipping routes - adding to already high levels of tension between Israel and its neighbours.
| || Six-Day War: After the war|
In a pre-emptive attack on Egypt that drew Syria and Jordan into a regional war in 1967, Israel made massive territorial gains capturing the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula up to the Suez Canal. The principle of land-for-peace that has formed the basis of Arab-Israeli negotiations is based on Israel giving up land won in the 1967 war in return for peace deals recognising Israeli borders and its right to security. The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt as part of the 1979 peace deal with Israel.
Jerusalem: before 1967 and Now
|Jerusalem: Before 1967|
The armistice line drawn at the end of the 1948 war divided Jerusalem into two. Between 1949 and 1967, Israel controlled the western part of Jerusalem, while Jordan took the eastern part, including the old walled city containing important Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious sites.
| ||Jerusalem: After 1967|
Israel captured the whole of Jerusalem in 1967 and extended the city's municipal boundaries, putting both East and West Jerusalem under its sovereignty and civil law. In 1980 Israel passed a law making its annexation of East Jerusalem explicit. The city's status remains disputed, with Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem considered illegal under international law. Israel is determined that Jerusalem be its undivided capital, while Palestinians are seeking to establish their capital in East Jerusalem.
West Bank: Autonomy and Population
|West Bank: Palestinian-controlled areas|
Since the 1993 Declaration of Principles resulting from the Oslo peace process, there have been several handovers of land to differing degrees of Palestinian control. Currently 59% of the West Bank is officially under Israeli civil and security control. Another 23% of it is under Palestinian civil control, but Israeli security control. The remainder of the territory is governed by the Palestinian National Authority - although such areas have been subject to Israeli incursions during the recent intifada.
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West Bank: Population centres
The areas of Palestinian Authority control are mainly located in Palestinian urban areas – the population centres where much of the fast-growing population lives. These take up about 8.5% of the West Bank. About 2.3 million Palestinians live in the West Bank, together with about 400,000 Israeli settlers - including those who live in East Jerusalem. About 6.7 million people live in Israel, of whom about 1.3 million are Israeli Arabs.
West Bank: Settlements and Check-points
|West Bank: Israeli settlements|
Since 1967, Israel has pursued a policy of building settlements on the West Bank. These cover about 2% of the area of the West Bank and are linked by Israeli-controlled roads. There are also large tracts of Israeli-controlled land designated as military areas or nature reserves.
| || West Bank: Israeli checkpoints|
Military checkpoints on West Bank roads allow Israel to monitor and control travel in much of the West Bank. During the recent Palestinian intifada, Israeli troops have also encircled and staged incursions into population centres and severely restricted the movement of Palestinian civilians. In 2002, Israel began building a security barrier near the north-western edge of the West Bank.
Gaza: Population and Security
|Gaza Strip: Population|
Gaza, one of the most densely populated tracts of land in the world, is home to about 1.3m Palestinians, about 33% of whom live in United Nations-funded refugee camps. About 8,000 Jewish settlers also lived in the Gaza Strip until September 2005 when they and the troops that protected them were withdrawn. Before the withdrawal, travel in and out of Gaza was severely restricted for long periods.
Gaza Strip: Access and security
Israel controls Gaza's airspace, coast and most of its borders. In November 2005 Israel agreed to allow the Palestinians and Egypt to control the Rafah crossing point (with video surveillance by an EU-Palestinian team), and to increase traffic through Erez and Karni crossing points. The construction of a sea port was also given the go-ahead. The future of Gaza's destroyed airport is yet to be agreed.