TO the north is Kibbutz Ramat Rachel. This Kibbutz was founded in 1926. As was true for the entire country, the facts on the ground set the borders of the state. Because the Kibbutz was able to survive the Jordanian invasion of 1948 through to the end of the war, the "Green Line" was drawn to include it. The border ran right through the valley in between them (shown below.)
To the west is the "contraversial" building project of Har Homa. This hill, which was across the border, housed the remains of a Byzantine era defensive fortress. The only clearly visible remain from a distance was the "Wall," or "Homa," in Hebrew. Israeli soldiers guarding the border looking across aptly named it "Har Homa," "Wall Mountain," and the name stuck. Recently, construction of a massive new Jewish neighborhood has been continuing apace, and Prime Minister Olmert incurred the wrath of his American handlers when he approved a few hundred additional housing units there last month.
Har Homa up close
To the south, is Beit Lechem, "The House of Bread," also known as Bethlehem. The birth village of David Hamelech, King David, it is today firmly under the anarchic realm of the Palestinian Authority.
The spires of churches in the old city of Bethlehem peeking up ober contemporary buildings. Today the city has been largely Islamified, and it seems likely that it will have been completely de-Christianized in the coming decades.
And off in the distance is the Herodion. It's clearly artificial top, and the lowered top beside it, make it an obvious landmark.
Next stop... the Herodion.