Judea and Samaria (“West Bank”)

Judea and Samaria are regions in the south and north heartland of Israel, with roots going back to Biblical times. Although Jews have a continuous presence here for millennia, their numbers increased dramatically following the Six Day War. The area has been a source of tension with the local Arab population who claim the land to be part of what they hope to make the future state of Palestine, though many chances have been missed, especially since the 2003 Oslo Accords, to exploit that opportunity.

Israel and Its Neighborhood

Israel, in the southwestern corner of Asia and the southeast shore of the Mediterranean sea, has a population of over 9 million and a total area of just over 20,000 square kilometers (slightly more than 8000 square miles), ranks 150th among nations in geographical size and 99th in population size. Its population is 80% Jewish and 20% Muslim.

Modern Israel

Israel stands at the crossroads of Europe, Africa, and Asia. Its western border is the Mediterranean Sea. To the north it is bound by Lebanon and Syria, to the east by Jordan and to the south by the Red Sea and Egypt. Israel is about 290 miles (470 km) long and 85 miles (135 km) across at its widest point. Its 2020 population is over 9 million.

Golan Heights

In 1981, Israel extended its law to this strategic plateau seized in wars with Syria. In 2019, U.S. President Trump recognized it as part of Israel, although most other countries do not.

Gaza (Gush Katif) pre-2005

In August 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew its civilian population and military bases from the Gaza strip, removing 21 communities from the Jewish enclave of Gush Katif, removing some 7000 citizens amid protests.

Peace with Egypt

The Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty was signed on March 26, 1979, following the Camp David Accords of September 18, 1978, which set the framework for a peace treaty between both countries.

Yom Kippur War of October 1973

The Yom Kippur War began on October 6, 1973 when the armies of Egypt and Syria attacked Israel across the Suez Canal and in the Golan Heights on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. After a few days of torrid fighting, Egypt established itself on the eastern side of the Suez Canal and the Syrians captured most of the Golan. A counterattack by Israeli forces pushed back Egyptian forces, with the IDF crossing the Canal and approaching Cairo. On the Golan, Syrian forces were repulsed; the IDF penetrated deep in Syrian territory and recaptured Mount Hermon.

Jerusalem Old City Post ’67

Jerusalem’s ancient walled city is roughly a kilometer square and divided into Moslem, Christian, Armenian Quarter, and Jewish Quarters On the eastern site of the Old City is the Temple Mount, on which is today placed the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. The Temple’s western retaining wall is considered holy by Jews.

Jerusalem Post ’67

Weeks after the end of the Six-Day War, on June 27, 1967, the Israeli Parliament passed a law applying Israeli administration and jurisdiction to all areas of Jerusalem acquired in the war. The following day, the Jerusalem municipal boundaries were extended to include eastern Jerusalem, from Atarot and Neve Yaakov in the north to Gilo in the south.

Six Day War (1967)

In May and early June of 1967, tensions between Israel and the surrounding states built to a crisis.

Jerusalem Before 1967

At the end of the War of Independence, Jerusalem was divided between Israel and Jordan. Armistice lines were determined in November 1948 by Moshe Dayan, Israeli Commander of the Jerusalem district, and Abdallah el-Tal, Legion Commander of Jordan’s Jerusalem front. Between the lines drawn by the two commanders, areas left undefined became “no-man’s land.” The area around Armon Hanatziv was used as UN territory, and Mount Scopus became an Israeli enclave containing the Hebrew University, Hadassah Hospital and, officially, the village of Issawiyya. This map was adopted in April 1949 in an armistice agreement signed in Rhodes. The westernmost point between the two parts of the city was at the edge of the Musrara neighborhood, near the Mandelbaum Gate.

Jewish Towns Lost 1947-9

When the War of Independence broke out in 1947, the Jewish community of Hebron fled. During the fighting, nine Jewish communities were captured by the Jordanian army – Kibbutz Beit Ha’arava and Kaliya north of the Dead Sea, four kibbutzim in Gush Etzion west of Bethlehem, Atarot and Neve Yaakov north of Jerusalem, and the Jewish Quarter of its Old City. Kfar Darom, in the Gaza strip, was captured by the Egyptian army.

War of Independence (1947-9)

In 1947, Great Britain turned over Mandatory Palestine to UN responsibility. The General Assembly appointed a committee which after much study and discussion recommended partitioning the land into Jewish state and Arab states, wi­­th Jerusalem under international supervision. On November 29, the partition resolution was accepted by a vote of 33-13.

UN Partition Plan of 1947

In 1947, Great Britain turned over Mandatory Palestine to UN responsibility. The General Assembly appointed a committee which after much study and discussion recommended partitioning the land into Jewish state and Arab states, wi­­th Jerusalem under international supervision. On November 29, the partition resolution was accepted by a vote of 33-13.

The British Mandate

The San Remo Peace Conference of 1920 delegated to Great Britain the authority to administer the Land of Israel and Transjordan, collectively called the Palestine Mandate. In 1921, the British severed the Jewish national home from Transjordan. In 1922, Churchill published a White Paper on this subject and, later that year, the League of Nations approved the changed mandate, effective 1923.

Setting the Northern Border

In May 1916, France and Great Britain signed the Sykes-Picot Agreement, in which the claims of both sides to the Levant were set down, determining areas of administration and influence. Until 1923, the sides were involved in hard bargaining, with the British insisting on two principles: control of the Biblical area “from Dan to Beer Sheba;” and control of its water sources, the Jordan River and Sea of Galilee.

Setting the Southern Border

Great Britain wanted to change the border with the Ottoman Empire, under strong German influence, to push the Ottomans further from the Suez Canal. In 1892, the Turks agreed to allow Egyptian guard stations near the Gulf of Eilat. In April of 1906, the Turks were pressed to set the border between Aqaba and Rafah.

Jewish Communities Under Islam

After the death of Emperor Julian II in 363 CE, most Jewish settlements in the south were ruined. However, Jews remained in the historical Land of Israel, mainly in Galilee and the larger cities.

Kingdom of Herod

King Herod, of Edomite extraction, ruled as king of Israel from 40 to 4 BCE. He was appointed by Rome after conquest of the Jewish kingdom from the Hasmoneans. When Augustus became Caesar in 30 BCE, persuaded him of his loyalty. Augustus rewarded him by adding Jericho, the coastal region south of Dor and the region east of the Sea of Galilee. In 23 BCE, he was given the Bashan, Horen, and Tarchon regions, and three years later, the Golan Heights.

Kingdoms of David and Solomon

King David ruled Israel from 990 BCE to 968 BCE; and his son Solomon ruled after him until 928 BCE. David enlarged his kingdom and brought it to the peak of political and military power. Solomon “ruled over all the kingdoms west of the Euphrates River from Tiphsah to...