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Jerusalem / West Bank / Gaza
Facts
Area: 22,072 sq km (Israel);6,335 sq km (West Bank/Gaza)
Population: 7 million (Israel);4 million (West Bank/Gaza)
Languages: Hebrew, Arabic (Israel);Arabic (West Bank/Gaza)
Religions: Judaism、Muslim (Israel);Muslim (West Bank/Gaza))
GNI per capita: US$21,900 (Israel);US$1,230 (West Bank/Gaza)
Currency: NIS (new Israeli shekel), 1USD = 3.56 NIS; JOD (Jo
 
The division of the former British mandate of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel in the years after the end of World War II has been at the heart of Middle Eastern conflicts for the past half century. After the Nazi Holocaust, pressure grew for the international recognition of a Jewish state, and in 1948 Israel came into being.
 
Much of the history of the region since that time has been one of conflict between Israel on one side and Palestinians, represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization, and Israel's Arab neighbors, on the other. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced. 
 
Palestinians in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, have lived under Israeli occupation since 1967. The settlements that Israel has built in the West Bank are home to around 400,000 people. 
 
Israel evacuated its settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and withdrew its forces, ending almost four decades of military occupation. However, after the militant Islamic group Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007, Israel intensified its economic blockade of the Strip. 
 
The region contains low coastal plains, central mountain ranges, a rugged dissected upland plateau in the east, and the Negev Desert in the south of Israel. The climate is temperate, with hot summers and mild winters. Natural resources include timber, copper, natural gas, clay, and sand for Israel, and arable land for the West Bank.
 
Palestinians have seen a significant regression of the economy in the past nine years due to Israeli government restrictions. Unemployment in the Gaza Strip is 35 percent. Nearly half of Palestinians in the West Bank live below the poverty line; it rises to 80 percent in Gaza. The continuous construction of a physical barrier, which is mainly within Palestinian land, has further deteriorated the economy, threatened food security, and adversely impacted access to education and health care. Chronic malnutrition is high in the Palestinian Territories, affecting 10 percent of children under the age of 5 (which amounts to 50,000 children in the Gaza Strip).

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