Palestinians - Settlements

Until the establishment of Israel in 1948, the Palestinian coastline was dotted with Arab villages. The Galilee area in the north was also heavily settled. The Bedouin (nomadic) population was concentrated in the Negev Desert area. After the division of Palestine into Israel and the West Bank, the coastal area became heavily Jewish. The Jordan Valley was less settled than the Mediterranean coast. After Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza following the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Israeli settlements were built on Palestinian lands, using up to 50 percent of these territories. Around 125,000 Israeli settlers began to live within the Arab area. Under international law, these settlements are considered illegal and may be dismantled as the price of a lasting peace settlement. There are also ancient cities in Palestine: Jerusalem (built by the Jebusites), Jericho (the oldest city in the world), Bethlehem, Beershiba, Gaza, and Nablus (ancient Samaria). Most of these urban centers have an old city surrounded by walls and modern suburbs in the nearby hills. Typical village dwellings are built of local building material, stone in the hills and mud and straw in the villages. Jerusalem's old city and ancient walls are built exclusively of Jerusalem limestone. Wood, which has always been in short supply, is rarely used.

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