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Israel And The West Bank 100 Years Ago

Israel is holding early elections called by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that opinion polls suggest will be too close to call. As the world watches what impact the results will have on the deadlocked Israeli-Palestinian peace process, these hand-painted photographs from 1919 show life in a region that is very different from the Middle East of today. Nevertheless, the tensions that drive the current conflict were already simmering under the surface.

Panorama of Jerusalem, 1919. The city is claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians. In 1919, Jerusalem and Palestine were occupied by British forces, which had captured the region from the Ottomon Empire during World War I.
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Panorama of Jerusalem, 1919. The city is claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians. In 1919, Jerusalem and Palestine were occupied by British forces, which had captured the region from the Ottomon Empire during World War I.

A pack train outside the Damascus Gate. The city currently has a population of 780,000. A League of Nations report in 1920 put the entire population of Palestine at just 700,000.
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A pack train outside the Damascus Gate. The city currently has a population of 780,000. A League of Nations report in 1920 put the entire population of Palestine at just 700,000.

A market in Jerusalem. In 1919, Arabs made up 90 percent of the population of Palestine, according to the League of Nations report. Over the next four years, 40,000 Jews came from Europe.
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A market in Jerusalem. In 1919, Arabs made up 90 percent of the population of Palestine, according to the League of Nations report. Over the next four years, 40,000 Jews came from Europe.

Traditional crafts still thrived in 1919 -- here, a village carpenter makes ploughs.
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Traditional crafts still thrived in 1919 -- here, a village carpenter makes ploughs.

Bethlehem street scene (street leading to the Church of the Nativity). Bethlehem has been under the control of the Palestinian Authority since 1995.
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Bethlehem street scene (street leading to the Church of the Nativity). Bethlehem has been under the control of the Palestinian Authority since 1995.

Via Dolorosa, in the Old City of Jerusalem, is believed to be the path that Jesus walked, carrying his cross, on the way to his crucifixion.
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Via Dolorosa, in the Old City of Jerusalem, is believed to be the path that Jesus walked, carrying his cross, on the way to his crucifixion.

A monk in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jerusalem
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A monk in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jerusalem

A woman in embroidered costume in Ramallah, now the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority
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A woman in embroidered costume in Ramallah, now the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority

The Dome of the Rock, in Jerusalem, bears great religious significance for Muslims, Jews, and Christians.
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The Dome of the Rock, in Jerusalem, bears great religious significance for Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

A Ramallah peasant spinning wool
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A Ramallah peasant spinning wool

A shepherd with his flock
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A shepherd with his flock

Harvesting barley. Agriculture is still the mainstay of the economy in the West Bank. Israel has a highly developed industrial base.
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Harvesting barley. Agriculture is still the mainstay of the economy in the West Bank. Israel has a highly developed industrial base.

The river Jordan, which now forms the border between the West Bank and Jordan
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The river Jordan, which now forms the border between the West Bank and Jordan

Portrait of a Jew from Yemen
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Portrait of a Jew from Yemen

The Sea of Galilee -- actually the largest freshwater lake in Israel
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The Sea of Galilee -- actually the largest freshwater lake in Israel

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