State of Palestine

Coordinates: 32°00′N 35°15′E / 32.000°N 35.250°E / 32.000; 35.250
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State of Palestine
دولة فلسطين (Arabic)
Dawlat Filasṭīn
Anthem: "فدائي"
"Fida'i"[1]
"Fedayeen Warrior"
Territory claimed by Palestine (green).[2] Claimed territory annexed by Israel (light green). All claimed territory is occupied by Israel.
Territory claimed by Palestine (green).[2]
Claimed territory annexed by Israel (light green).
All claimed territory is occupied by Israel.
StatusUN observer state under Israeli occupation
Recognized by 139 UN member states
  • Proclaimed capital
  • Administrative
    center
Largest cityRafah[3]
Official languagesArabic
Demonym(s)Palestinian
GovernmentUnitary semi-presidential republic[4]
• President
Mahmoud Abbas[b]
Mohammad Shtayyeh
Aziz Dweik
LegislatureNational Council
Formation
15 November 1988
29 November 2012
• Sovereignty dispute with Israel
Ongoing[c][5][6]
Area
• Total
6,020[7] km2 (2,320 sq mi) (163rd)
• Water (%)
3.5[8]
5,655 km2
365 km2[9]
Population
• 2023 estimate
5,483,450[10] (121st)
• Density
731/km2 (1,893.3/sq mi)
GDP (PPP)2023 estimate
• Total
Increase $36.391 billion[11] (138th)
• Per capita
Increase $6,642[11] (140th)
GDP (nominal)2021 estimate
• Total
Increase $18.109 billion[11] (121st)
• Per capita
Increase $3,464[11] (131st)
Gini (2016)Positive decrease 33.7[12]
medium
HDI (2021)Increase 0.715[13]
high · 106th
Currency
Time zoneUTC+2 (Palestine Standard Time)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+3 (Palestine Summer Time)
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy
Driving sideright
Calling code+970
ISO 3166 codePS
Internet TLD.ps

Palestine (Arabic: فلسطين, romanizedFilasṭīn[d]), officially the State of Palestine (دولة فلسطين, Dawlat Filasṭīn),[e] is a state in the Southern Levant region of West Asia. Founded on 15 November 1988 and officially governed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), it claims the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip as its territory, all of which have been Israeli-occupied territories since the 1967 Six-Day War.[6][18] The West Bank contains 165 Palestinian enclaves that are under partial Palestinian rule, but the remainder, including 200 Israeli settlements, is under full Israeli control. The Gaza Strip was governed by Egypt but conquered by Israel in 1967. Israel governed the region until it withdrew in 2005. The United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and various human-rights organizations still consider Gaza to be held under Israeli military occupation – due to what they regard as Israel's effective military control over the territory – as well as under blockade by Israel and Egypt. Israel disputes this.[19][20][21] Hamas seized power after winning the 2006 Palestinian legislative election.[c]

After World War II, in 1947, the United Nations (UN) adopted a Partition Plan for Mandatory Palestine, which recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states and an internationalized Jerusalem.[30] Immediately after the United Nations General Assembly adopted the plan as Resolution 181, a civil war broke out in Palestine,[31] and the plan was not implemented.[32] The day after the establishment of the State of Israel on 14 May 1948,[33][34][35] neighboring Arab countries invaded the former British Mandate and engaged Israeli forces in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.[36][37] Later, the All-Palestine Government was established by the Arab League on 22 September 1948 to govern the All-Palestine Protectorate in the Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip. It was soon recognized by all Arab League members except Transjordan, which had occupied and later annexed the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Palestine is currently recognized by 138 of the 193 United Nations (UN) member states. Though jurisdiction of the All-Palestine Government was declared to cover the whole of the former Mandatory Palestine, its effective jurisdiction was limited to the Gaza Strip.[38] During the Six-Day War in June 1967, Israel captured the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.

On 15 November 1988 in Algiers, Yasser Arafat, as Chairman of the PLO, issued the Palestinian Declaration of Independence, which established the State of Palestine. A year after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) was formed to govern (in varying degrees) areas A and B in the West Bank, comprising 165 enclaves, and the Gaza Strip. After Hamas became the PNA parliament's leading party in the most recent elections (2006), a conflict broke out between it and the Fatah party, leading to the Gaza Strip being taken over by Hamas in 2007 (two years after the Israeli disengagement).

The State of Palestine's mid-year population in 2021 was 5,227,193. Although Palestine claims Jerusalem as its capital, the city is under the control of Israel; both Palestinian and Israeli claims to the city are mostly unrecognized by the international community. Palestine is a member of the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the G77, the International Olympic Committee, as well as UNESCO, UNCTAD and the International Criminal Court.[39] Following a failed attempt in 2011 to secure full United Nations member state status, the United Nations General Assembly voted in 2012 to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state.[40][41][42]

Etymology

Although the concept of the Palestine region and its geographical extent has varied throughout history, it is now considered to be composed by the modern State of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.[43] General use of the term "Palestine" or related terms to the area at the southeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea beside Syria has historically been taking place since the times of Ancient Greece, with Herodotus being the first historian writing in the 5th century BC in The Histories of a "district of Syria, called Palaistine" in which Phoenicians interacted with other maritime peoples.[44][45] The term "Palestine" (in Latin, Palæstina) is thought to have been a term coined by the Ancient Greeks for the area of land occupied by the Philistines, although there are other explanations.[46]

Terminology

This article uses the terms "Palestine", "State of Palestine", "occupied Palestinian territory (oPt or OPT)" interchangeably depending on context. Specifically, the term "occupied Palestinian territory" refers as a whole to the geographical area of the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967. In all cases, any references to land or territory refer to land claimed by the State of Palestine.[47]

History

Arab Israeli War of 1948

In 1947, the UN adopted a partition plan for a two-state solution in the remaining territory of the mandate. The plan was accepted by the Jewish leadership but rejected by the Arab leaders, and Britain refused to implement the plan. On the eve of final British withdrawal, the Jewish Agency for Israel, headed by David Ben-Gurion, declared the establishment of the State of Israel according to the proposed UN plan. The Arab Higher Committee did not declare a state of its own and instead, together with Transjordan, Egypt, and the other members of the Arab League of the time, commenced military action resulting in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. During the war, Israel gained additional territories that were designated to be part of the Arab state under the UN plan. Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip, and Transjordan occupied and then annexed the West Bank. Egypt initially supported the creation of an All-Palestine Government but disbanded it in 1959. Transjordan never recognized it and instead decided to incorporate the West Bank with its own territory to form Jordan. The annexation was ratified in 1950 but was rejected by the international community.

Birth of PLO and Israeli occupation

Yasser Arafat emerged as a national hero and leader for Palestinians

In 1964, when the West Bank was controlled by Jordan, the Palestine Liberation Organization was established there with the goal to confront Israel. The Palestinian National Charter of the PLO defines the boundaries of Palestine as the whole remaining territory of the mandate, including Israel.

The Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel fought against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, ended with Israel occupying the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, besides other territories.[48][better source needed] Following the Six-Day War, the PLO moved to Jordan, but later relocated to Lebanon in 1971.[49][better source needed]

The October 1974 Arab League summit designated the PLO as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people" and reaffirmed "their right to establish an independent state of urgency."[50] In November 1974, the PLO was recognized as competent on all matters concerning the question of Palestine by the UN General Assembly granting them observer status as a "non-state entity" at the UN.[51][52] After the 1988 Declaration of Independence, the UN General Assembly officially acknowledged the proclamation and decided to use the designation "Palestine" instead of "Palestine Liberation Organization" in the UN.[17][53] In spite of this decision, the PLO did not participate at the UN in its capacity of the State of Palestine's government.[54]

In 1979, through the Camp David Accords, Egypt signaled an end to any claim of its own over the Gaza Strip. In July 1988, Jordan ceded its claims to the West Bank—with the exception of guardianship over Haram al-Sharif—to the PLO. In November 1988, the PLO legislature, while in exile, declared the establishment of the "State of Palestine". In the month following, it was quickly recognised by many states, including Egypt and Jordan. In the Palestinian Declaration of Independence, the State of Palestine is described as being established on the "Palestinian territory", without explicitly specifying further. Because of this, some of the countries that recognised the State of Palestine in their statements of recognition refer to the "1967 borders", thus recognizing as its territory only the occupied Palestinian territory, and not Israel. The UN membership application submitted by the State of Palestine also specified that it is based on the "1967 borders".[2] During the negotiations of the Oslo Accords, the PLO recognised Israel's right to exist, and Israel recognised the PLO as representative of the Palestinian people. The 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence included a PNC call for multilateral negotiations on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 242 later known as "the Historic Compromise",[55] implying acceptance of a two-state solution and no longer questioning the legitimacy of the State of Israel.[56]

After Israel captured and occupied the West Bank from Jordan and Gaza Strip from Egypt, it began to establish Israeli settlements there. Administration of the Arab population of these territories was performed by the Israeli Civil Administration of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories and by local municipal councils present since before the Israeli takeover. In 1980, Israel decided to freeze elections for these councils and to establish instead Village Leagues, whose officials were under Israeli influence. Later this model became ineffective for both Israel and the Palestinians, and the Village Leagues began to break up, with the last being the Hebron League, dissolved in February 1988.[57]

Peace treaties

Bill Clinton, Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat during Oslo Accords
Demonstration against road block, Kafr Qaddum, March 2012

In 1993, in the Oslo Accords, Israel acknowledged the PLO negotiating team as "representing the Palestinian people", in return for the PLO recognizing Israel's right to exist in peace, acceptance of UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, and its rejection of "violence and terrorism".[58] As a result, in 1994 the PLO established the Palestinian National Authority (PNA or PA) territorial administration, that exercises some governmental functions[c] in parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.[59][60] In 2007, the Hamas takeover of Gaza Strip politically and territorially divided the Palestinians, with Abbas's Fatah left largely ruling the West Bank and recognized internationally as the official Palestinian Authority,[61] while Hamas secured its control over the Gaza Strip. In April 2011, the Palestinian parties signed an agreement of reconciliation, but its implementation had stalled[61] until a unity government was formed on 2 June 2014.[62] As envisioned in the Oslo Accords, Israel allowed the PLO to establish interim administrative institutions in the Palestinian territories, which came in the form of the PNA. It was given civilian control in Area B and civilian and security control in Area A, and remained without involvement in Area C. In 2005, following the implementation of Israel's unilateral disengagement plan, the PNA gained full control of the Gaza Strip with the exception of its borders, airspace, and territorial waters.[c] Following the inter-Palestinian conflict in 2006, Hamas took over control of the Gaza Strip (it already had majority in the PLC), and Fatah took control of the West Bank. From 2007, the Gaza Strip was governed by Hamas, and the West Bank by Fatah.[63]

A modern day city scene across East Jerusalem, with view of Temple Mount and Al Aqsa

International recognition

  State of Palestine
  Countries that have recognised the State of Palestine
  Countries that have not recognised the State of Palestine

The State of Palestine has been recognized by 139 of the 193 UN members and since 2012 has had a status of a non-member observer state in the United Nations.[40][41][42]

On 29 November 2012, in a 138–9 vote (with 41 abstentions and 5 absences),[64] the United Nations General Assembly passed resolution 67/19, upgrading Palestine from an "observer entity" to a "non-member observer state" within the United Nations System, which was described as recognition of the PLO's sovereignty.[41][42][65][66][67] Palestine's new status is equivalent to that of the Holy See.[68] The UN has permitted Palestine to title its representative office to the UN as "The Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations",[69] and Palestine has instructed its diplomats to officially represent "The State of Palestine"—no longer the Palestinian National Authority.[67] On 17 December 2012, UN Chief of Protocol Yeocheol Yoon declared that "the designation of 'State of Palestine' shall be used by the Secretariat in all official United Nations documents",[70] thus recognising the title 'State of Palestine' as the state's official name for all UN purposes; on 21 December 2012, a UN memorandum discussed appropriate terminology to be used following GA 67/19. It was noted therein that there was no legal impediment to using the designation Palestine to refer to the geographical area of the Palestinian territory. At the same time, it was explained that there was also no bar to the continued use of the term "Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem" or such other terminology as might customarily be used by the Assembly.[71] As of 2 June 2023, 139 (72%) of the 193 member states of the United Nations have recognised the State of Palestine.[66][72] Many of the countries that do not recognise the State of Palestine nevertheless recognise the PLO as the "representative of the Palestinian people". The PLO's Executive Committee is empowered by the Palestinian National Council to perform the functions of government of the State of Palestine.[73]

Geography

A mountainous range in East Jerusalem

The areas claimed by the State of Palestine lie in the Southern Levant. The Gaza Strip borders the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Egypt to the south, and Israel to the north and east. The West Bank is bordered by Jordan to the east, and Israel to the north, south, and west. Thus, the two enclaves constituting the area claimed by State of Palestine have no geographical border with one another, being separated by Israel. These areas would constitute the world's 163rd largest country by land area.[7][74][75][better source needed]

A beach in the Gaza Strip in 2000

The West Bank is located on the western side of the Jordan River and is characterized by a diverse landscape. It consists of fertile valleys, such as the Jezreel Valley and the Jordan River Valley, as well as mountainous areas, including the Samarian and Judean mountain ranges.[76] East Jerusalem, a part of the West Bank, is a significant component of the Palestinian territories. It is located on a plateau in the central highlands and is surrounded by valleys. The Old City of Jerusalem, with its historical and religious sites, is centrally located within East Jerusalem. The Gaza Strip is a small coastal enclave located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea.

Palestine has a number of environmental issues; issues facing the Gaza Strip include desertification; salination of fresh water; sewage treatment; water-borne diseases; soil degradation; and depletion and contamination of underground water resources. In the West Bank, many of the same issues apply; although fresh water is much more plentiful, access is restricted by the ongoing dispute.[77]

The Samarian Hills and Judean Hills are mountain ranges in the West Bank, with Mount Gerizim and Mount Hebron as their highest peaks. The Mount of Olives is a significant hill east of Jerusalem, known for its religious sites. Mount Carmel extends into the northern West Bank and is renowned for its natural beauty. Three terrestrial ecoregions are found in the area: Eastern Mediterranean conifer–sclerophyllous–broadleaf forests, Arabian Desert, and Mesopotamian shrub desert.[78]

Palestine features significant lakes and rivers that play a vital role in its geography and ecosystems.[79] The Jordan River flows southward, forming part of Palestine's eastern border and passing through the Sea of Galilee before reaching the Dead Sea.[80] These waterways provide essential resources for agriculture, recreation, and support various ecosystems.[81]

Wildlife and Protected areas

Camels on Judaean Desert

Palestine does not have officially recognized national parks or protected areas. However, there are areas within the West Bank that are considered to have ecological and cultural significance and are being managed with conservation efforts. These areas are often referred to as nature reserves or protected zones. Located near Jericho in the West Bank, Wadi Qelt is a desert valley with unique flora and fauna. The reserve is known for its rugged landscapes, natural springs, and historical sites such as the St. George Monastery.[82] Efforts have been made to protect the biodiversity and natural beauty of the area.[83]

Climate

Temperatures in Palestine vary widely. The climate in the West Bank is mostly Mediterranean, slightly cooler at elevated areas compared with the shoreline, west to the area. In the east, the West Bank includes much of the Judean Desert including the western shoreline of the Dead Sea, characterised by dry and hot climate. Gaza has a hot semi-arid climate (Köppen: BSh) with mild winters and dry hot summers.[citation needed] Spring arrives around March–April and the hottest months are July and August, with the average high being 33 °C (91 °F). The coldest month is January with temperatures usually at 7 °C (45 °F). Rain is scarce and generally falls between November and March, with annual precipitation rates approximately at 4.57 inches (116 mm).[84]

Government and politics

Mausoleum of Yasser Arafat at Palestinian Authority's headuquarter

The State of Palestine consists of the institutions that are associated with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which includes President of the State of Palestine[85][b] – appointed by the Palestinian Central Council,[86] Palestinian National Council – the legislature that established the State of Palestine[4] and Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization – performs the functions of a government in exile,[66][73][87][88] maintaining an extensive foreign-relations network

These should be distinguished from the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and PNA Cabinet, all of which are instead associated with the Palestinian National Authority. The State of Palestine's founding document is the Palestinian Declaration of Independence,[4] and it should be distinguished from the unrelated PLO Palestinian National Covenant and PNA Palestine Basic Law.

Mahmoud Abbas is the president of the country since 2005. Mohammad Shtayyeh is the current prime minister of Palestine. While Yahya Sinwar is leader of Hamas government in the Gaza Strip. According to Freedom House, the PNA governs Palestine in an authoritarian manner, including by repressing activists and journalists critical of the government.[89]

East Jerusalem is claimed as capital by Palestine, which has been under occupation by Israel. Currently the temporary administration center is in Ramallah, which is 10km from Jerusalem.[90] Muqata hosts state ministries and representative office.[91] The former building Gaza was destroyed in 2009 war.[92] In 2000, a government building was built in Jerusalem suburb of Abu Dis, to house office of Yasser Arafat and Palestinian parliament.[93] Since second intifada, condition of the town made this site unsuitable to operate as a capital, either temporarily or permanently.[94]

Map of the Palestinian Authority showing the Palestinian enclaves currently under Palestinian administration in red (Areas A and B; not including Gaza Strip, which is under Hamas rule)
Map of the Palestinian Governorates (official)

Law and security

The State of Palestine has a number of security forces, including a Civil Police Force, National Security Forces and Intelligence Services, with the function of maintaining security and protecting Palestinian citizens and the Palestinian State. All of these forces are part of Palestinian Security Services. The PSF is primarily responsible for maintaining internal security, law enforcement, and counterterrorism operations in areas under Palestinian Authority control.[95]

The Palestinian Liberation Army (PLA) is the standing army of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).[96] It was established during the early years of the Palestinian national movement but has largely been inactive since the Oslo Accords.[97] The PLA's role was intended to be a conventional military force but has shifted to a more symbolic and political role.[98] There are various armed factions within Palestine, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip and other smaller groups.[99] These factions have their own armed wings (Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades and Al Quds Brigades) and maintain paramilitary capabilities.[100] They primarily focus on resistance activities against Israeli occupation and have engaged in armed conflicts with Israel in the past.[101]

The military capabilities of Palestine are significantly limited compared to the Israeli army (IDF).[102] The Oslo Accords and subsequent agreements have placed restrictions on the size and armament of Palestinian security forces.[103][104] The PA's security forces primarily focus on internal security rather than conventional military operations.[105]

Administrative divisions

The State of Palestine is divided into sixteen administrative divisions.

Name Area (km2)[106] Population Density (per km2) Muhafazah (district capital)
Jenin 583 311,231 533.8 Jenin
Tubas 402 64,719 161.0 Tubas
Tulkarm 246 182,053 740.0 Tulkarm
Nablus 605 380,961 629.7 Nablus
Qalqiliya 166 110,800 667.5 Qalqilya
Salfit 204 70,727 346.7 Salfit
Ramallah & Al-Bireh 855 348,110 407.1 Ramallah
Jericho & Al Aghwar 593 52,154 87.9 Jericho
Jerusalem 345 419,108a 1214.8[i] Jerusalem (see Status of Jerusalem)
Bethlehem 659 216,114 927.9 Bethlehem
Hebron 997 706,508 708.6 Hebron
North Gaza 61 362,772 5947.1 Jabalya[citation needed]
Gaza 74 625,824 8457.1 Gaza City
Deir Al-Balah 58 264,455 4559.6 Deir al-Balah
Khan Yunis 108 341,393 3161.0 Khan Yunis
Rafah 64 225,538 3524.0 Rafah
  1. ^ Data from Jerusalem includes occupied East Jerusalem with its Israeli population
Map of Israeli settlements in the West Bank

The governorates in the West Bank are grouped into three areas per the Oslo II Accord. Area A forms 18% of the West Bank by area, and is administered by the Palestinian government.[107][108] Area B forms 22% of the West Bank, and is under Palestinian civil control, and joint Israeli-Palestinian security control.[107][108] Area C, except East Jerusalem, forms 60% of the West Bank, and is administered by the Israeli Civil Administration, however, the Palestinian government provides the education and medical services to the 150,000 Palestinians in the area,[107] an arrangement agreed upon in the Oslo II accord by Israeli and Palestinian leadership. More than 99% of Area C is off limits to Palestinians, due to security concerns and is a point of ongoing negotiation.[109][110] There are about 330,000 Israelis living in settlements in Area C.[111] Although Area C is under martial law, Israelis living there are entitled to full civic rights.[112]

East Jerusalem (comprising the small pre-1967 Jordanian eastern-sector Jerusalem municipality together with a significant area of the pre-1967 West Bank demarcated by Israel in 1967) is administered as part of the Jerusalem District of Israel but is claimed by Palestine as part of the Jerusalem Governorate. It was effectively annexed by Israel in 1967, by application of Israeli law, jurisdiction and administration under a 1948 law amended for the purpose, this purported annexation being constitutionally reaffirmed (by implication) in Basic Law: Jerusalem 1980,[107] but this annexation is not recognised by any other country.[113] In 2010 of the 456,000 people in East Jerusalem, roughly 60% were Palestinians and 40% were Israelis.[107][114] However, since the late 2000s, Israel's West Bank Security Barrier has effectively re-annexed tens of thousands of Palestinians bearing Israeli ID cards to the West Bank, leaving East Jerusalem within the barrier with a small Israeli majority (60%).[citation needed] Under Oslo Accords, Jerusalem was proposed to be included in future negotiations and according to Israel, Oslo Accords prohibits the Palestinian Authority to operates in Jerusalem. However, certain parts of Jerusalem, those neighborhoods which are located outside the historic Old City but are part of East Jerusalem, were allotted to the Palestinian Authority.[115]

Foreign relations

Belgian Consulate to Palestine in Jerusalem

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) represents the State of Palestine and maintains embassies in countries that recognize it. The PLO also participates in international organizations as a member, associate, or observer. In some cases, due to conflicting sources, it is difficult to determine if the participation is on behalf of the State of Palestine, the PLO as a non-state entity, or the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).

In 1988, the State of Palestine's declaration of independence was acknowledged by the General Assembly with Resolution 43/177.[116] In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 67/19, granting Palestine "non-member observer state" status, effectively recognizing it as a sovereign state.[117][118][119] Sweden took a significant step in 2013 by upgrading the status of the Palestinian representative office to a full embassy. They became the first EU member state outside the former communist bloc to officially recognize the state of Palestine.[120][121][122]

The UK House of Commons voted in favor of recognizing Palestine as a state in 2014, as a contribution towards achieving a negotiated two-state solution.[123] However, the UK government maintained its policy of reserving the right to recognize Palestine bilaterally at a more opportune time for peace efforts.[124] Similarly, in 2014, the French parliament passed a resolution urging their government to recognize Palestine as a state, with the intention of facilitating a definitive resolution to the conflict.[125] A United Nations Security Council resolution proposed in 2014, calling for the end of Israeli occupation and statehood by 2017, did not pass due to opposition and abstentions.[126][127][128][129]

In January 2015, the International Criminal Court affirmed Palestine's "State" status after its UN observer recognition.[130] The Vatican shifted recognition to the State of Palestine in May 2015, following the 2012 UN vote.[131] This change aligned with the Holy See's evolving position.[132] In December 2015, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution demanding Palestinian sovereignty over natural resources in the occupied territories. It called on Israel to cease exploitation and damage while granting Palestinians the right to seek restitution.[133]

Nations with which Palestine has diplomatic relations

Currently, 139 UN member states (72%) recognize the State of Palestine. Though some don't recognize it, they acknowledge the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people. The PLO's executive committee acts as the government, empowered by the PNC.[134] Palestine is a member of the United Nations, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Arab League, the G77, the International Olympic Committee and the Union for the Mediterranean.

A majority of Arab and Muslim countries, including Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Yemen have supported the country, due to religious and cultural relations. Egypt and Jordan, apart from supporting have also signed peace treaties with Israel. Egypt and Qatar acts as a mediator between Hamas controlled Gaza and Israel.[135][136] Countries like India and Republic of Ireland have strongly showed support of an independent Palestine, coexisting with Israel.[137][138]

Legal status

There are a wide variety of views regarding the status of the State of Palestine, both among the states of the international community and among legal scholars.[139] The existence of a state of Palestine, although controversial,[140] is a reality in the opinions of the states that have established bilateral diplomatic relations.[141]

Raising the flag at the UN

In August 2015, Palestine's representatives at the UN presented a draft resolution that would allow the non-member observer states Palestine and the Holy See to raise their flags at the United Nations headquarters. Initially, the Palestinians presented their initiative as a joint effort with the Holy See, which the Holy See denied.[142]

In a letter to the Secretary General and the President of the General Assembly, Israel's Ambassador at the UN Ron Prosor called the step "another cynical misuse of the UN ... in order to score political points".[143]

After the vote, which was passed by 119 votes to 8 with 45 countries abstaining,[144][145][146] the US Ambassador Samantha Power said that "raising the Palestinian flag will not bring Israelis and Palestinians any closer together".[147] US Department of State spokesman Mark Toner called it a "counterproductive" attempt to pursue statehood claims outside of a negotiated settlement.[148]

At the ceremony itself, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the occasion was a "day of pride for the Palestinian people around the world, a day of hope",[149] and declared "Now is the time to restore confidence by both Israelis and Palestinians for a peaceful settlement and, at last, the realization of two states for two peoples."[144]

Demographics

Population

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), as of 26 May 2021, the State of Palestine 2021 mid year population is 5,227,193.[10] Ala Owad, PCBS President, estimated a population of 5.3 million as of end year 2021.[150] Within an area of 6,020 square kilometres (2,320 sq mi), there is a population density of about 827 people per square kilometre.[75] To put this in a wider context, the average population density of the world was 25 people per square kilometre as of 2017.[151]

Healthcare

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MOH), as of 2017, there were 743 primary health care centers in Palestine (583 in the West Bank and 160 in Gaza), and 81 hospitals (51 in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and 30 in Gaza).[152]

Operating under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO),[153] the Health Cluster for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) was established in 2009 and represents a partnership of over 70 local and international nongovernmental organisations and UN agencies providing a framework for health actors involved in the humanitarian response for the oPt. The Cluster is co-chaired by the MOH to ensure alignment with national policies and plans.[154] The report of WHO Director-General of 1 May 2019 describes health sector conditions in the oPt identifying strategic priorities and current obstacles to their achievement[155] pursuant to the country cooperation strategy for WHO and the Occupied Palestinian Territory 2017–2020.[156]

Education

President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, inaugurating ICT center at Al-Quds University, Jerusalem in 2015

The literacy rate of Palestine was 96.3% according to a 2014 report by the United Nations Development Programme, which is high by international standards. There is a gender difference in the population aged above 15 with 5.9% of women considered illiterate compared to 1.6% of men.[157] Illiteracy among women has fallen from 20.3% in 1997 to less than 6% in 2014.[157]

Religion

Religion of Palestinians (est. 2014)

  Islam (93%)
  Christianity (6%)
  Druze and Samaritans (1%)
Illustration of a Palestinian Christian home in Jerusalem, c. 1850. By W. H. Bartlett

93% of Palestinians are Muslim,[158] the vast majority of whom are followers of the Sunni branch of Islam,[159] with a small minority of Ahmadiyya,[160] and 15% being nondenominational Muslims.[161] Palestinian Christians represent a significant minority of 6%, followed by much smaller religious communities, including Druze[citation needed] and Samaritans.[162]

Economy

Tourism

Al Deira Hotel in Gaza, before 2023 war

Tourism in the territory claimed by the State of Palestine refers to tourism in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In 2010, 4.6 million people visited the Palestinian territories, compared to 2.6 million in 2009. Of that number, 2.2 million were foreign tourists while 2.7 million were domestic.[163] Most tourists come for only a few hours or as part of a day trip itinerary. In the last quarter of 2012 over 150,000 guests stayed in West Bank hotels; 40% were European and 9% were from the United States and Canada.[164] Lonely Planet travel guide writes that "the West Bank is not the easiest place in which to travel but the effort is richly rewarded."[165] In 2013 Palestinian Authority Tourism minister Rula Ma'ay'a stated that her government aims to encourage international visits to Palestine, but the occupation is the main factor preventing the tourism sector from becoming a major income source to Palestinians.[166] There are no visa conditions imposed on foreign nationals other than those imposed by the visa policy of Israel. Access to Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza is completely controlled by the Government of Israel. Entry to the occupied Palestinian territories requires only a valid international passport.[167]

Information and Communications

The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) and the Ministry of Telecom and Information Technology said there were 4.2 million cellular mobile subscribers in Palestine compared to 2.6 million at the end of 2010 while the number of ADSL subscribers in Palestine increased to about 363 thousand by the end of 2019 from 119 thousand over the same period. 97% of Palestinian households have at least one cellular mobile line while at least one smartphone is owned by 86% of households (91% in the West Bank and 78% in Gaza Strip). About 80% of the Palestinian households have access to the internet in their homes and about a third have a computer.[168] On 12 June 2020, the World Bank approved a US$15 million grant for the Technology for Youth and Jobs (TechStart) Project aiming to help the Palestinian IT sector upgrade the capabilities of firms and create more high-quality jobs. Kanthan Shankar, World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza said "The IT sector has the potential to make a strong contribution to economic growth. It can offer opportunities to Palestinian youth, who constitute 30% of the population and suffer from acute unemployment."[169]

Financial services

The Palestine Monetary Authority has issued guidelines for the operation and provision of electronic payment services including e-wallet and prepaid cards.[170]

Transportation

Water supply and sanitation

Water supply and sanitation in the Palestinian territories are characterized by severe water shortage and are highly influenced by the Israeli occupation. The water resources of Palestine are partially controlled by Israel due in part from historical and geographical complexities with Israel granting partial autonomy in 2017.[171] The division of groundwater is subject to provisions in the Oslo II Accord, agreed upon by both Israeli and Palestinian leadership.[citation needed] Israel provides the Palestinain territories water from its own water supply and desalinated water supplies, in 2012 supplying 52 MCM.[172][173]

Generally, the water quality is considerably worse in the Gaza Strip when compared to the West Bank. About a third to half of the delivered water in the Palestinian territories is lost in the distribution network. The lasting blockade of the Gaza Strip and the Gaza War have caused severe damage to the infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.[174][175] Concerning wastewater, the existing treatment plants do not have the capacity to treat all of the produced wastewater, causing severe water pollution.[176] The development of the sector highly depends on external financing.[177]

Culture

Media

There are a number of newspapers, news agencies, and satellite television stations in the State of Palestine. Its news agencies include Ma'an News Agency, Wafa, Palestine News Network. Al-Aqsa TV, Al-Quds TV, Sanabel TV are its main satellite broadcasters.

Sports

Association football (soccer) is the most popular sport in the state of Palestine,[178] with the Palestine national football team representing the state in international football and governed by FIFA worldwide. Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium in Jerusalem is the first FIFA approved stadium in Palestine.[179]

Art, music, and clothing

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The Palestinian Declaration of Independence proclaims the "establishment of the State of Palestine on our Palestinian territory with its capital Jerusalem (Al-Quds Ash-Sharif)." Israel exercises de facto control over Jerusalem, but neither state’s claims to Jerusalem are widely recognized by the international community. Ramallah is the administrative capital where government institutions and foreign representative offices are located, while most countries maintain their embassies to Israel in Tel Aviv.
  2. ^ a b So far both presidents of the State of Palestine, Yasser Arafat and his successor Mahmoud Abbas, were appointed beforehand as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the committee performing the functions of State of Palestine government.[66][73] See also Leaders of Palestinian institutions.
  3. ^ a b c d Israel allows the Palestinian National Authority to execute some functions in the Palestinian territories, depending on the area classification. It maintains minimal interference (retaining control of borders: air,[22] sea beyond internal waters,[22][23] land[24]) in the Gaza Strip (its interior and Egypt portion of the land border are under Hamas control), and varying degrees of interference elsewhere.[25][26][27][28][29] See also Israeli-occupied territories.
  4. ^ pronounced [fɪ.las.tˤiːn]
  5. ^ Note that the name Palestine can commonly be interpreted as the entire territory of the former British Mandate, which today also incorporates Israel. The name is also officially used as the short-form reference to the State of Palestine,[15] and this should be distinguished from other homonymous uses for the term including the Palestinian Authority,[16] the Palestine Liberation Organization,[17] and the subjects of other proposals for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

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Bibliography

Further reading

External links

32°00′N 35°15′E / 32.000°N 35.250°E / 32.000; 35.250