Israelis refer to the region either as a unit -- "The West Bank" (Hebrew: "ha-Gada ha-Ma'aravit" "הגדה המערבית") -- or as two units -- Judea (Hebrew: "Yehuda" "יהודה") and Samaria (Hebrew: "Shomron" "שומרון"), after the two biblical kingdoms, (the southern kingdom of Judah and the northern Kingdom of Israel -- the capital of which was, for a time, in the town of Samaria). The border between Judea and Samaria is a belt of territory immediately north of Jerusalem sometimes called the "land of Benjamin".
The Arab world and especially the Palestinians strongly object to the terms Judea and Samaria, the use of which they deem to reflect Israeli expansionist aims. Instead, they refer to the area as "the occupied West Bank of the Jordan River", emphasizing that the area is under Israeli military control and jurisdiction (see "occupied Palestinian territories").
The West Bank has been the object of negotiation, terrorism and war.
The future status of the West Bank, together with the Gaza Strip on the Mediterranean shore, has long been disputed, though almost everyone agrees that the area is heading for statehood (see proposals for a Palestinian state).
The United Nations call the West Bank and Gaza Strip Israeli-occupied (see Occupied territories for discussion of what "occupied" means). The US generally agrees with this formulation. Israel prefers the term disputed territories, claiming it comes closer to a neutral point of view; this viewpoint is not accepted by most other countries, which consider "occupied" to be the neutral term.
Generally, the Arab World considers the West Bank the rightful property of its Palestinian residents and regards the Israeli presence as an occupation force. Supporters of this view commonly refer to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as the "occupied territories". The vast majority of Palestinians also feel that the West Bank ought to be a part of their sovereign nation, and that the presence of Israeli military forces is a violation of that sovereignty (see Palestinian Authority).
Israel views the current situation as follows:
There are unofficial Arab maps that show the West Bank, Gaza,
- Israel's eastern border was never defined by anyone.
- The disputed territories were not part of any state (Jordanian annexation was never recognized) since the Ottoman Empire days.
- According to the Camp David Accords (1978) with Egypt, the 1994 agreement with Jordan and the Oslo accords with the PLO the final status of the territories would be fixed only during the permanent agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.