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The term Palestine has been associated variously and sometimes controversially with this small region, which some have asserted also includes Jordan.Both the geographic area designated by the name and the political status of it have changed over the course of some three millennia.From Ramallah in the north to Beersheba in the south, the high plateau of Judaea is a rocky wilderness of limestone, with rare patches of cultivation, as found around Al-Bīrah and Hebron.It is separated from the coastal plain by a longitudinal fosse and a belt of low hills of soft chalky limestone, about 5 to 8 miles (8 to 13 km) wide, known as Ha-Jordan Valley, which is approached with difficulty along the wadis Kelt and Mukallik.It extends from Beersheba in the north, where 8 inches (200 mm) or more of precipitation falls annually and grain is grown, to the port city of Elat on the Red Sea, in the extremely arid south.It is bounded by the Sinai Peninsula on the west and the northern extension of the Great Rift Valley on the east.
Once covered with marshes, the Sharon plain was reclaimed in the post-Exilic and Hellenistic period and is now a settled area.
Perennial rivers are few, and the shortage of water is aggravated by the porous nature of the limestone rocks over much of the country.
For further reading on the political units most closely associated with Palestine, Plain of ʿAkko (Acre), which extends with a breadth of 5 to 9 miles (8 to 14 km) for about 20 miles (32 km) from the Lebanon border in the north to the Carmel promontory, in Israel, in the south, where it narrows to a mere 600 feet (180 metres).
To the south, Lower Galilee—with its highest peak, Samaria, the region of the ancient kingdom of Israel, is a hilly district extending from the Plain of Esdraelon to the latitude of Ramallah.
Its mountains—Carmel, Gilboaʿ, Aybāl (Ebal), and Al-Ṭūr (Gerizim)—are lower than those of Upper Galilee, while its basins, notably those of the ʿArrābah Plain and Nāblus, are wider and more gently contoured than their equivalents in Judaea.
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