407-645-5933 ext. 236 marisa.west@shalomorlando.org

Many of you know that I am in Israel right now. I came to participate in a program called Encounter. Encounter takes Jewish leaders into the Palestinian Territories (the West Bank) for an immersive, intensive, 4-day program. My intention was to post about the day however we are not even finished with the first day and there is too much to post about just once a day. So, if you want to follow what I am experiencing, it will have to be in multiple blog posts. I can’t adequately describe this experience without taking time and space.

After our morning overview today, we left to meet with a leader of the civil society here (I am intentionally leaving names out). We got to experience our first checkpoint and it was closed – resulting in a 15-20-minute delay to our day. He spent the entire day with us giving us lots of insight and at times, some hope. As he described the difference between areas A, B, and C, I learned a great deal.

Area A is the major city centers where the Palestinian Authority (PA – their government) is in charge of both Security and Social Services. This is about 18% of the West Bank.

Area B is approximately 22% of the West Bank and the PA controls the Social Services while the Israeli government controls security.

Area C, the largest area covering 60% of the West Bank is under the control of the Israeli government. Of the estimated 2.5 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank, only 150,000 live in Area C.

Area A is doing well economically and many people are able to work in Israel. Due to the increased security, Israel has been able to lower the age and requirements to enter Israel. As we discussed some of the challenges, I felt some hope that there could be peace.

I’m going to take each part separately as there is a lot to unpack. Later, I will talk about the next two stops and how my hope was dampened and then questioned greatly.