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"Moyer's show is the best on the Palestinian situation that I have seen on network television, but it still seemed unbalanced. There was only one official representing the Palestinians and no interviews with ordinary Palestinians like those done with the Israeli settlers." Talk back on the boards.

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Which group has the best chance of achieving peace in the Middle East?

West Bank settler
4.05.02
Politics and Economy:
Troubled Lands
More on This Story:
West Bank Settlements

The question of settlements in the West Bank has become one of the most divisive issues in the current crisis in the Middle East. There are over 200,000 Israelis living among 2 million Palestinians on land each claim as their own. In recent months bombings and shootings have increased in the West Bank, and again this week Israeli troops moved into the area. The fate of the settlements remains a major sticking point in any major peace initiative. This, along with the Gaza Strip and Golan Heights, is the land in the concept "land for peace." (Read more about the Saudi plan, the Oslo Accords, and The Mitchell Report and Tenent proposals.)

The Middle East
The lands in question have changed hands many times down the millenia — and people of three religions — Jewish, Muslim and Christian — all locate some of their holiest places in the area of the West Bank. Jerusalem is one such center of conflict there. It was the Six Day War of 1967 which brought the West Bank and Gaza Strip (as well as the Sinai Peninsula since ceded to Egypt) under Israeli control.

Take the Virtual Tour of Jerusalem from CNN.com.

The West Bank
Israelis themselves are divided over the settlement issue. In late February, a poll in Israel's largest paper, Yediot Aharonot, found majority support for evacuating all settlements in Gaza (57%) and some or all in the West Bank (59%). As tensions have risen in the six weeks since then, national polls find a growing number of Israelis in favor of "transfer" — the removal of Palestinians from the West Bank.

Check out the timeline from PBS/POV.org.

West Bank Areas A, B and C
Since the 1993 Declaration of Principles, which resulted from the Oslo peace process, there have been several handovers of land to differing degrees of Palestinian civil and security control.

In 1993, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat returned to Gaza to take up his new position as head of the new Palestinian self-rule Authority (PA). Later that year, a comprehensive peace treaty between Israel and Jordan was signed. In 1995 Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Rabin signed the Taba agreement (known as Oslo II) in Washington to expand Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza and allow elections.

Read the Oslo Accords.

West Bank Settlement Shilo
The character of Israeli settlers in the West Bank is changing. As reported recently by the LOS ANGELES TIMES, the net number of settlers is decreasing. Secular settlements are shrinking, while religious settlements are growing. In addition, many young people who commute across the borders into Israel to work are staying put, leaving the settlements to the older generation.

Sources: THE NEW YORK TIMES; THE TIMES OF LONDON; THE LOS ANGELES TIMES; CNN; THE BBC

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