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About the Landscape of Palestine

Palestine

The West Bank varies considerably. It is largely an upland landscape at 2,000-3,000ft (700-900m).

Some of it is quite green, especially in winter and spring, and some of it, mainly the Judaean hills, is semi-desert. Being limestone, it has significant underground aquifers and rivers. Water-sources are coveted by the Israelis who have commandeered many of them, selling water back to Palestinians at a high price (and subsidising West Bank settlers' water bills), preventing Palestinians' access to underground water on their own land.

Much of the landscape is covered with old agricultural terracing - this land has been extensively farmed over many centuries. The climate was more equable in the past too. Palestinian farmers grow olives and fruit and, in more watered areas, vegetables and herbs, and there is grazing by sheep, goats and, in parts, cattle.

Some towns and villages are in valleys and others are on hilltops with ancient wells where, in the hot summer, they are cooled by the breezes. Israeli settlements tend to be on hilltops too, asserting dominance, but this makes them dependent on oil supplies for commuting, power and water-pumping - there's an Israeli settlement on the hill at the top of this picture.

On the second picture down you can see the Judaean Desert - a dry area populated mainly by Bedouin.

At the bottom you can see the tortuous main road from Ramallah and Jericho to Bethlehem, which climbs the steep valley side of Wadi Nar (the Valley of Fire). It's dramatic to drive along, and it's the main road from the northern to the southern West Bank.

Above it is a classic Palestinian village in the northern West Bank with its characteristic minaret.

Overall, the West Bank is an impressive landscape.
This is one reason why Israel has its settlement project here - compared with flatter 'Israel proper' it is scenic, atmospheric and inspiring to live in.

© Text and pictures copyright Palden Jenkins 2011. This is online material supplementing the book Pictures of Palestine by Palden Jenkins. You may print it out in single copies for your own non-commercial use or forward it by e-mail as long as the piece is unaltered and properly attributed to the author. The book's website is at www.palden.co.uk/pop

NEXT: About Bethlehem
The rather famous and nowadays not-so-little town
where I spend most of my time when in Palestine

 
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