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Map of the West Bank today

The West Bank and East Jerusalem were occupied by Jordan (formerly Transjordan) for a period of nearly two decades (1948–1967) starting from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In 1950, with British approval, and despite Arab League opposition, Jordan extended its jurisdiction over the West Bank. The inhabitants of the West Bank became citizens of Jordan.


1948 Arab-Israeli war

On 14 May 1948 Israel declared the establishment of the State of Israel based on the UN Partition Plan. The Jordanian Arab Legion under the leadership of Sir John Bagot Glubb, known as Glubb Pasha was given orders to enter Palestine, secure the UN designated Arab area, and then enter the Jerusalem corpus separatum as defined by the UN Partition Plan. See 1948 Arab-Israeli War Third phase: May 15, 1948 - June 11, 1948.

"A key feature of the Arabs' plans was the complete marginalization of the Palestinians. … This aptly reflected the political reality: The military defeats of April-May had rendered them insignificant. The Arab League through the first half of 1948 had consistently rejected Husseini's appeals to establish a government-in-exile. … Under strong pressure from Egypt, which feared complete Hashemite control over the Palestinians, the League Political Committee in mid-September authorized the establishment of a Palestinian 'government.'" (Benny Morris, Righteous Victims)

On September 22, 1948, the All-Palestine Government was established in Gaza captured by Egypt, and on September 30, the rival First Palestinian Congress, which promptly denounced the Gaza "government", was convened in Amman.

By the end of the war, Jordan forces had control over the West Bank and East Jerusalem. On April 3, 1949, Israel and Jordan signed an Armistice Agreement. The main points included:

UN Partition Plan For Palestine 1947

Map of 1947 Partition Plan showing West Bank as part of Palestinian Arab state

  • Jordan withdrew its forces from its front posts overlooking the Plain of Sharon. In return, Israel agreed to allow Jordanian forces to take over positions in the West Bank previously held by Iraqi forces.

The remainder of the area that had been designated as Arab under the partition plan was partly occupied by Egypt (the Gaza Strip), partly occupied and annexed by Israel (West Negev, West Galilee, Jaffa). The intended international enclave of Jerusalem was divided between Israel and Jordan, both eventually annexing their portions.


Rather than attempting to establish an independent Palestinian state for its West Bank subjects, Jordan formally annexed East Jerusalem and the West Bank on April 24, 1950, giving all resident Palestinians automatic Jordanian citizenship. (They had already received the right to claim Jordanian citizenship in December 1949.) Only the United Kingdom formally recognized the annexation of the West Bank, de facto in the case of East Jerusalem.[1] Pakistan is often claimed to have recognized Jordan's annexation too, but this is dubious.[2][3]

Border Wars

Tensions continued between Jordan and Israel through the early fifties, with Palestinian guerrillas and Israeli commandos crossing the Green Line despite the Jordanian army's efforts to prevent both occurrences. In retaliation for an attack by Palestinian infiltrators' killing of three Israeli civilians, 50 Palestinians died in an Israeli commando unit operation in the West Bank.

Abdullah I of Jordan, who had become Emir of Transjordan in 1921 and King in 1923, was assassinated in 1951 during a visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem by a Palestinian gunman following rumours that he was discussing a peace treaty with Israel. The trial found that this assassination had been planned by Colonel Abdullah Tell, ex-military governor of Jerusalem, and Dr. Musa Abdullah Husseini. He was succeeded by his grandson King Hussein of Jordan once he came of age in 1953, after his father Talal's brief reign.

Six Day War

The Israel Defense Force completely pushed the Jordanian army out of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The formerly Jordanian-controlled West Bank and East Jerusalem with its one million Palestinian population came under Israeli military occupation. About 300,000 Palestinian refugees fled to Jordan.

See also: Political status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Rapprochement and peace

Hussein of Jordan 1997

King Hussein of Jordan ruled the West Bank until Jordan was defeated in the 1967 war with Israel

On July 31 1988, Jordan ceded its claims to the West Bank — with the exception of guardianship over the Muslim Holy Sites of Jerusalem — to the Palestine Liberation Organization, as "the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people."[4][5]

The 1993 Oslo Accords between the PLO and Israel "opened the road for Jordan to proceed on its own negotiating track with Israel."[6]

The Washington Declaration[7] was initialed one day after the Oslo Accords were signed. "On July 25, 1994, King Hussein met with Israeli Prime Minister Rabin in the Rose Garden of the White House, where they signed the Washington Declaration, formally ending the 46-year state of war between Jordan and Israel."[6]

Finally, on October 26, 1994, Jordan signed the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace normalizing relations between the two countries and resolved territorial disputes between them.

Jordanian occupation

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