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West Bank

You hear the word 'welcome' a lot in the West Bank. Whether it is shouted by a vendor in a bustling souq, said with a smile over a plate of falafel or roared over Arabic music blasting from a taxi, Palestinians always want to make tourists feel appreciated.

Given its association with political strife and violence, this can come as a surprise to first-time visitors. But while the West Bank is a political tinderbox, it is something else too: an addictive tapestry of bustling souqs and chaotic streets, of rolling hills and chalky desertscapes, of thick, black coffee served in porcelain cups and of cities so steeped in history that it is humbling.

It is that magic, at times elusive and at others effervescent, that allows the West Bank to cast its spell on travellers – to inspire, challenge, entice and defy – now, as it has done for millennia.

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