A two-state solution – an Israel and a Palestine – would give the Middle East peace and set the stage for a refugee crisis that has lasted since the Second World War. But the jump-making process in the 1990s came to an end. In the Gaza Strip and on the West Bank, an independent Palestine now exists in half; the peace agreements gave a divided autonomy and Israeli supremacy exists. As negotiations stand still and Palestinian leaders move in different directions, the United States, the mediator, has taken steps that have made the two-state solution even more distant.
Geography and climate
Gaza strip and scattered enclaves on the West Bank. It is the territories that Palestine consists of, pending a final peace agreement with Israel, to clarify the borders of both countries.
The West Bank is located between Israel and Jordan. The area is bounded on the eastern side by the Jordan River and the large salt lake Dead Sea. The boundary to the west is not fixed. The West Bank is mostly mountainous, with altitudes around 800 meters. At the far east of the Jordan River the landscape is flat.
The Gaza Strip is on the southeastern corner of the Mediterranean, with a short border with Egypt to the south. Gaza is otherwise surrounded by Israel. The Gaza Strip is a plain with sandy beach facing the sea.
Both Palestinians and Israelis claim Jerusalem, which Israel controls. The Palestinians want to make East Jerusalem their capital, and this demand has strong support in the outside world. For now, Ramallah on the West Bank, just north of Jerusalem, serves as the capital of the Palestinian Authority created in the 1990s (see below). The main city of Gaza is called Gaza City. The distance between Gaza City and Jerusalem is less than eight miles. The route goes almost entirely over Israeli territory.
The West Bank’s division into enclaves is a temporary solution. In the mid-1990s, several peace agreements were concluded between Palestinian representatives and Israel, which had occupied the territories since 1967. What the peace process managed to accomplish before it stalled was local self-government for the Palestinians under continued Israeli supremacy. At the West Bank, the negotiations created a complicated patchwork of Israeli and Palestinian rule where the land is now divided into three categories (see Political system). Most of the area remains under Israeli control. Israel also controls the roads between the Palestinian enclaves on the West Bank.
From Gaza, Israel withdrew completely in 2005 (see Modern History), but Israel still controls Gaza’s borders besides the one in the south toward Egypt.
Since 2007, the West Bank and Gaza have been subject to two separate boards. On the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority, dominated by the secular movement Fatah, and on the Gaza Strip, the Islamist rule of Hamas rules.
There is a clear difference between summer and winter. Summer extends from May to October.
In the West Bank, summer is hot and dry while the climate is more humid in Gaza. In November, the winter season begins. During the winter, it rains a lot, especially in the mountainous areas of the West Bank where there may also be snow.
FACTS – GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
Adjacent country (s): Israel, Jordan, Egypt
Other major cities: Nablus, Bayt Lahm (Bethlehem), Ariha (Jericho), al-Khalil (Hebron), Jenin, Tulkarm, Khan Yunis
Average Precipitation/year: 40–800 mm in the mountains, 140 mm in the Jordan Valley and 400 mm in Gaza
Average/day: 12 °C (Jan), 32 °C (Aug)