The occupied territories at a glance
Full Name:   Occupied territories of Palestine/West Bank and Gaza
Capital:  na
Area:  6,020sq km
Population: 4147000 (2008)
Head of state:  Mahmoud Abbas (Chairman of the Palestinian Authority)
Currency:  Israeli New Shekel, Jordanian Dinar, Egyptian Pound
Languages:  Arabic, English, Hebrew

The West Bank lies on the west bank of the Jordan River. Since 1967 most of the West Bank has been under Israeli military occupation. To the west, north and south, the West Bank shares borders with mainland Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies Jordan. The West Bank also contains a significant coast line along the western bank of the Dead Sea.

Gaza on the Mediterranean is the largest city in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian territories. The city has a population of about 410,000 in the inner city and 1.4 million people in the metropolitan area. The word Gaza is often used to refer to the entire Gaza Strip, so the city is often called Gaza City for clarity. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, although it continues to control airspace, sea and land access to the strip.

The Palestinian Authority was established in 1984 to govern the West Bank and Gaza. The two areas, however, have been ruled separately, since Islamic group, the Harakat al-Muqawamat al-Islamiyyah (Hamas) seized control in Gaza in June 2007.

Gaza’s economy has almost ground to a halt in the past three years, since Israel tightened its blockade following the Hamas takeover of government in June 2007. A report from the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem released in April 2010, says the blockade has led to the closing of 95 per cent of Gaza’s factories and workshops. Prior to the siege, there were more than 4,000 factories and workshops in the territory, but the latest estimates suggest only 500-600 are still functioning.

Unemployment exceeds 40 per cent and more than 70 per cent of the population depends on food aid from international organizations.

As a result, there is now a growing disparity between the economies of West Bank and Gaza. While real gross domestic product (GDP) in the West Bank in 2009 was estimated to have grown by 8.5 per cent, the equivalent figure for Gaza was just 1 per cent, according to the IMF.

While clearance revenues – Israeli repayments of taxes collected from Palestinian commercial activities – in the West Bank reached NIS4bn ($1.05bn) in 2009, Gaza yielded just NIS352m that year, a decline of 13 per cent.

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