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Israel's Borders

Israel's Borders

On the right you see a map of Israel from 1949 to 1967. The light area is Israel, and the shaded areas mark the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza. pre 67 mapYou can see the ancient lands of Samaria and Judea in the West Bank. Those lands have Biblical significance to both the Christian Zionists and the Jewish fundamentalists.

One Israeli leader who opposed those 1949 boundaries was Menachem Begin. He believed Israel should include all of the West Bank, including Samaria and Judea. Menachem Begin's ultranationalist notions made him a figure on the fringe for the first nineteen years of the existence of Israel. Later, he formed the right wing Likud Party and became Israel's sixth Prime Minister in 1977, ending three decades of political dominance by the Labor Party. We will come back to Begin later in this story.

You can see in the map on the right that Israel is surrounded by Egypt in the South, Jordan in the West, and Syria and Lebanon in the North. At the border with Syria you see the Golan Heights which rise up 3,000 feet. Prior to 1967, Syrians used the Golan to shoot at the Israeli settlers below.

Jerusalem was divided before 1967. In 1949, an armistice agreement between Jordan and Israel guaranteed Israel free access to Jewish Holy Places. The Kingdom of Jordan did not fulfill most conditions of the agreement. jerusalemFor a clearer view of these maps of Jerusalem from the BBC click here.

One of the places Jews didn't have access to was the Western Wailing Wall of the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount with the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque is the holiest site in Judiasm, the third holiest site in Islam, and has special significance to Christianity. It is thus one of the most contested religious sites in the world. The mosque and shrine are currently administered by an Islamic trust that has been granted almost total autonomy by the State of Israel starting in 1967.

Last updated: 14-Jul-2004