On the border between Israel and Jordan, just north of the West Bank, is the Jezreel Valley.
It’s lined with fields and dotted with fish farms, and in the mountains above, the biblical King Saul’s bones are buried. This valley is as rich in history as it is in fruit trees, but it is a bloody history, and the blood lingers even still.
It is 12:30pm.
A midday call to prayer begins, and chants of “Alluhu Akbar” resonate over the desertscape before fading off into silence. It is calm, too, but there’s a tension in the arid air, and even the tour guides pick their words carefully. ‘Occupied’ rather than ‘Inhabited,’ and ‘Palestinian Authority,’ not ‘PLO’. Words themselves could ignite a political tinderbox, and the West Bank is definitely stocked with kindling.
The West Bank of the Jordan River — situated in Eastern Israel — is divided into three sectors: A, B, and C respectively.
Area A is not much different from B or C in terms of aesthetic — it is dry desert with Jerusalem stonework jutting into the sky — but as mandated by the Oslo Accords, Area A is under full jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority and is solely reserved for Arab-Palestinians. Without prior authorization, Israeli citizens are not allowed inside.
The walls in the West Bank are only one of many ethnic boundaries that separate Israel from itself. Questions of coexistence between the Israelis and Palestinians are answered by barbed wire and border guards, and though the Jezreel Valley is undeniably beautiful, it has a history of blood, and there are trickles of an uncertain future.