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  1. 1. BrillOnline Reference Works Home > International Relations > International Year Book and Statesmen's Who's Who > Occupied Palestinian Territories International Year Book and Statesmen's Who's Who Edited by: Subjects: International Relations Occupied Palestinian Territories (7,105 words) See also Israel General Profile Article Table Of Contents General Profile Capital: East Jerusalem (although the status of Jerusalem is still under discussion) (Population estimate: 360,000) Administrative Capital: Gaza City (Population estimate: 500,000) Head of State: Mahmoud Abbas (President) Constitution and Government Legal System Local Government Area and Population National Flag: Three horizontal stripes - black, white and green - with a red triangle with its base at the hoist (Palestinian National Authority flag). Constitution and Government The Occupied Palestinian Territories refers to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; information on the Golan Heights can be found within the Israel entry. Employment Banking and Finance Manufacturing, Mining and Services Communications and Transport Health On 29 November 1947, the United Nation's General Assembly recommended the partition of Mandatory Palestine into independent Jewish and Arab States. The State of Israel's independence was proclaimed on 14 May 1948 with the termination of the British Mandate over Palestine. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was set up in 1964 and is internationally recognised as the representative body of the Palestinian people. In 1998 the Palestinian National Council, its highest body, declared the existence of an independent state of Palestine, under Israeli occupation. The capital is East Jerusalem. A peace deal was signed in 1993 in Washington, USA, between Israel and the PLO, which would create a Education Religion Communications and Media Environment Palestinian authority. The plan gave the PLO initial internal control of the Gaza Strip and Jericho. This control would spread as Israeli troops withdrew. A five-year transition period was agreed during which time the status of East Jerusalem was to be agreed; likewise the structure and boundaries of Palestine. The Oslo B Accord set out the political structure for a Palestinian state. Executive authority is vested in the Palestinian National Authority which is headed by an elected leader. Yasser Arafat was elected Executive President on 20 January 1996 and the position is regarded as the head of state internationally. In March 2003 the position of prime minister was created when Mahmoud Abbas was nominated by Yasser Arafat. The president's executive powers were reduced as a result. The prime minister is the head of government, and appoints the executive authority subject to the approval of the PLO. Recent Events In September 2000 the US President Bill Clinton hosted a summit at Camp David: Yasser Arafat and the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak discussed the future of a Palestinian state and its people. The talks broke down over the sovereignty of the city of Jerusalem. Later the same month, Ariel Sharon, leader of Israel's right-wing opposition party, visited the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif), a site sacred to Muslims. The incident sparked violent clashes between Palestinians and Israelis that caused over 300 deaths. In February 2002, Israel attacked Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Gaza City. A summit of Arab leaders took place in Beirut on 27 March 2002 to discuss the new Middle East peace initiative, but Yasser Arafat could not attend as Israel refused to let him leave the country. In response to suicide bombings, Israeli troops moved into Ramallah on 31 March 2002, and into the settlements of Jenin, Salfit and Nablus on 3 April 2002. They inflicted heavy Palestinian casualties. The UN General Assembly passed a motion condemning the Israeli military occupation of Jenin.
  2. 2. In response to two Palestinian suicide bombings in two days Israeli troops laid siege to Yasser Arafat's headquarters from19th to the 29th September 2002. Palestinian attacks and Israeli military responses continued into 2003. In May 2003 a 'roadmap' for peace was put forward by the USA, Russia, the UN and the EU. It demanded a cessation of violence, the rebuilding of Palestinian security apparatus and Palestinian political reforms. The second stage of the roadmap would be the creation of a neutral Palestinian state with borders by December 2003. The final stage would be the negotiation of a permanent agreement by 2005. However, violence and suicide attacks continued. In August 2003 President Bush called on Israel to halt work on its 245-km (150-mile) security fence in the West Bank. Palestinians claim that it has annexed more land for Israeli settlements. The US government expressed concern that the fence would become an obstacle to peace. In September 2003 the UN condemned the barrier as illegal. An Israeli military operation, codenamed Days of Penitence, took place in northern Gaza in early October 2004; 79 Palestinians were killed in six days. In October 2004 Israel's Knesset voted by 67 votes to 45 in favour of a plan to withdraw Jewish settlers from Gaza. Leader of the Palestinians for 40 years, Yasser Arafat died aged 75 on 11 November 2004. Mahmoud Abbas was immediately elected head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, and then President, following elections on 9th January 2005. At the end of September 2005, Israel left its settlements in the Gaza Strip, but retained control over the Strip's links with the outside world in order to prevent weapons smuggling and to ensure that long-range rockets did not reach the hands of Palestinian terrorist groups within Gaza. Hostilities between the militant group Hamas and the Israelis recommenced within a week. In the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, the Islamic militant group Hamas won a surprise victory. The EU, US Russia and the UN called for Hamas to commit to renouncing violence and to recognise the state of Israel, or to face the prospect of future cuts in global aid amounting to over $1 billion. Israel suspended payment of monthly tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority. Hamas leader, Ismail Haniya, promised that all foreign aid would be spent on the needs of the people, but the EU and US froze donations. The UN and EU sought ways to allow humanitarian aid to reach the Palestinians without going through the Hamas government. On 25 June 2006 an Israeli soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, was captured, and demands were made for the release of some 1,500 prisoners. The Israelis responded by launching nightly air strikes against militant targets and infrastructure in Gaza. Militants in Gaza fired rockets into the Israeli city of Ashkelon, demonstrating that they now had weapons capable of travelling some 15km. In response, Israeli troops crossed the border, with the declared intention of creating a 'buffer-zone'. On 20 July 2006 the UN warned the leaders of both sides that they may be found personally responsible for 'disproportionate' actions. In September, delegates at the Stockholm conference learnt that some 200 Palestinians had been killed since late June, and many more injured. The EU and America continued to prevent funds reaching the Hamas government and the civil service. Following protests over unpaid wages and the storming of government headquarters, the Hamas-led administration announced the closure of all government offices on 2nd October and the suspension of government work. Protests the previous day had led to clashes between Hamas militias and those of the Fatah movement. Violence between the two factions continued into 2007. In January 2007, Israel paid the owing tax revenues directly to the moderate President Mahmoud Abbas, not the Hamas government. The violence between the Hamas and the Fatah factions in Gaza escalated in January 2007. A unity government was formed, but violence again flared. By 14th June, Hamas gunmen had taken control of the Gaza strip whilst Fatah retained control of the West Bank. President Abbas declared a state of emergency, and dismissed the unity government. He appointed a new prime minister and Council of Ministers, most of whom were not members of Fatah or Hamas. The President issued a decree enabling the new government to rule without the approval of the Hamas-dominated parliament. In October 2007, Amnesty International reported that the fighting between Hamas and Fatah was leading to human rights abuses, stating that illegal detentions and torture had become commonplace in both Gaza and the West Bank. Also in October, the Israeli government approved sanctions against Gaza, including cuts in the supply of electricity and fuel as punishment for rocket attacks. Israel had declared Gaza a "hostile entity" in September, and argued that, as such, the Israeli state was not bound to supply utilities to the civilian population. The international community disagreed since Israel remains legally responsible for the coastal strip because it still controls Gaza's borders, airspace and territorial waters. A new Middle-East peace initiative was launched at Annapolis, Maryland, in November; Israeli President Ehud Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to start talks aimed at reaching a full peace deal by the end of 2008. There were no representatives of Hamas. In December 2007, foreign aid of at least $7 billion was pledged to the Palestinians at a donors' conference in Paris, to be used to create a viable Palestinian state. On 14th January 2008, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators discussed the most intractable issues in the peace process: the status of Jerusalem, the borders of a Palestinian state, settlements in the West Bank, refugees, security and water resources. The following day, around 18 Palestinians were killed and 48 were injured when Israeli tanks entered the eastern suburbs of Gaza City. Israel closed the border crossings on 17th January. A few days later, the border wall between Gaza and Egypt at Rafah was breached, and tens of thousands of Gaza residents surged through to buy food and other supplies made scarce by the blockade; Egypt resealed the border after 12 days, succumbing to Israeli and US pressure to clamp down on potential arms smuggling routes. The first half of 2008 saw many rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel, and responses by the Israelis, including air strikes and incursions into Gaza. The international community urged both sides to show restraint. On the 10th May 2008, there were widespread electricity blackouts in the Gaza Strip after the territory's only power plant shut down due to a blockade of fuel supplies by the Israelis. On the 17 June, Israel and Hamas agreed to end months of clashes with a six-month truce. As well as a halt to hostilities, the deal (brokered by Egypt) envisaged a partial reopening of Gaza's borders. The agreement included the return of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and the reopening of the main Rafah crossing into Egypt at a later date. The truce only applied to Gaza, and under its terms militants could not respond to any Israeli action in the West Bank. On the 24th June, two rockets were fired from the Gaza into Sderot, Israel. Although there were no injuries, Israel declared the attack to be a "grave violation" of the truce. Hamas forces in Gaza arrested 160 Fatah supporters following an explosion which killed six people on 25th July. Seven people were killed and at least 18 others were injured during one of the bloodiest days in Gaza since Hamas and Israel agreed a ceasefire in June. In early October 2008, a senior Israeli commander in the West Bank said that hundreds of settlers were engaged in violence against Palestinians and Israeli soldiers, diverting military resources away from operations against militants. A UN report recorded 222 acts of settler violence in the first half of 2008. Defence Minister Ehud Barak urged tougher penalties for settlers who attack Palestinian property. All settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.
  3. 3. In mid-December, the six-month ceasefire between Hamas and the Israeli government ended. The truce had been under strain and was allowed to lapse when it expired. Hamas blamed Israel, saying it had not respected its terms, including the lifting of the blockade under which little more than humanitarian aid has been allowed into Gaza. Israel said it initially began a staged easing of the blockade, but this was halted when Hamas failed to fulfill what Israel says were agreed conditions, including ending all rocket fire and halting weapons smuggling. Over 50 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip over the week following the end of the ceasefire. On the 26th December, Israel opened crossings into the Gaza Strip to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid following requests from the international community. On the 27th December, Israeli F-16 bombers pounded key targets across the Gaza Strip, killing over 225 people. About 700 other people were wounded as missiles struck security compounds and militant bases as well as Gaza City, Khan Younis and Rafah. The high numbers of casualties made the 27th December the single deadliest day in the Gaza Strip since Israel's occupation of the territory in 1967. Israel said it was responding to an escalation in rocket attacks from Gaza, and aimed to create a new security environment, to protect Israelis who live within range of rocket fire from Gaza. The exiled leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, called for a new intifada against Israel, in response to the attacks. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned what he called Israel's "excessive use of force leading to the killing and injuring of civilians". The following day, Israel bombed over 40 supply tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip, claiming that the militants had fired 110 rockets into Israel since the beginning of the Israeli air raids. Thousands of people in the Arab world protested Israel's actions. Israeli air strikes continued despite UN calls for an immediate ceasefire. On the 1st January 2009, the Israeli air strikes targeted the homes of over 20 leading Hamas figures and a mosque, believed to be a Hamas command post. Palestinian militants continued to fire on Israel, launching more than 60 missiles in 24 hours. On the 3rd January, Israeli ground forces entered the Gaza Strip and engaged in heavy clashes with Hamas fighters in northern Gaza. On the 6th January, at least 40 people were killed (including a number of children) and 55 injured when Israeli artillery shells landed outside the UN-run al-Fakhura school in the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza. On the 8th January, Israel carried out heavy bombardment on Gaza, with 60 air strikes targeting Hamas facilities. At least three rockets were fired into Israel from Lebanon, raising fears the Israeli offensive in Gaza may spread. Both Israel and Hamas ignored a UN resolution calling for an immediate end to the conflict. On the 11th January, a leaflet drop warned Gazans of 'phase three' of the operations, and forces entered the suburbs of Gaza City two days later. On the 14th January, medical sources in Gaza said that over 1,000 Palestinians had died during the Israeli offensive, and a further 4,500 had been injured. Over 300 of those killed were children. Thirteen Israelis had died, three civilians and one soldier from rocket fire from Gaza. Egypt tried to broker a ceasefire. Hamas said any ceasefire agreement would have to entail a halt to Israeli attacks, a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces and the opening of border crossings to end the blockade of Gaza. The following day, Gaza saw one of the fiercest days of fighting since the conflict began and international condemnation of the Israeli operation grew. The UN compound in Gaza City was shelled by Israeli troops; around 700 people were sheltering there, and the ensuing fire burnt through stocks of food and medicine. Mr Olmert apologised for the attack. Israel eventually called a ceasefire on the 18th January, (22 days after the beginning of their offensive) having received assurances from the USA that it would take steps to halt the flow of arms into the Gaza Strip. Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel after the ceasefire had begun, triggering an Israeli air strike in response, but then announced its own immediate one-week ceasefire. On the 27th January, an Israeli soldier was killed by an explosive device planted on the Israel side of the border. Israel responded with an air attack on Gaza and a tank incursion into the Strip. On 31st January, Israeli aircraft bombed a Hamas security target in Gaza City and tunnels used by the militant group along the border with Egypt. The Egyptians led efforts to broker a permanent ceasefire. On the 6th February, UNRWA suspended all aid shipments, accusing the Hamas government of seizing hundreds of tonnes of food supplies. It was the second such incident in three days; blankets and food parcels had been seized at gunpoint from a distribution centre in Gaza. Hamas said it would return the goods, but the aid agency said deliveries would not restart until it had assurances that such seizures would not happen again. Later, a stockpile of unexploded Israeli munitions, fired into Gaza during the recent conflict, went missing; the Israelis accused Hamas of taking them. On the 18th February, Israel's security cabinet said that there would be no truce in Gaza until an Israeli soldier captured in 2006 was freed. Israel closed Gaza's borders, allowing only essential supplies in. Hamas said the border crossing and prisoner issues cannot be linked, and accused Mr Olmert of trying to block Egyptian-mediated truce efforts. International donors pledged almost $4.5bn in aid to the Palestinians, mainly to rebuild Gaza after the Israeli offensive. The Palestinian Authority had requested only $2.8bn. It is estimated that some 14,000 homes, 220 factories and 240 schools were destroyed. All but essential supplies are subject to Israeli blockades, and Israel refuses to allow building materials into Gaza. In April, the UN appointed South African judge and former war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone to lead an investigation into alleged violations of international law during the recent conflict. On the 14th August, Hamas fighters and policemen surrounded the Ibn-Taymiyah mosque in Gaza, where followers of the radical al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group Jund Ansar Allah had declared Gaza an "Islamic emirate". The mosque's imam, Abdul-Latif Moussa, and his armed supporters vowed to fight to the death rather than hand over authority of the mosque to Hamas. 24 people were killed and some 120 injured in the ensuing gun battle. Abdul-Latif Moussa died in an explosion; it was not clear whether he blew himself up. In September, Israel strongly criticised a UN human rights report into alleged war crimes during the Gaza conflict. The report said both the Israeli army and Palestinian militants committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during fighting in January, and that Israel used disproportionate firepower against the densely populated Gaza Strip and disregarded the likelihood of civilian deaths. The Israeli spokesman said that the Human Rights Council which commissioned the report had an anti-Israeli agenda, and that the report was biased. In May 2010 aid ships bound for Gaza were raided by Israel and nine Turkish activists were killed. The raid was condemned internationally. In June 2010 Israel said it would ease its blockade of Gaza and allow more civilian goods to enter the Palestinian territory. The Obama administration relaunched direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in September 2010. In September 2011, Palestinian officials launched a campaign to join the United Nations as a full member state. Currently the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) only has observer entity status. They will ask for international recognition on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as a capital. Both Israel and the US oppose the plan. If full-member-
  4. 4. status were granted the Palestinians would be able to become party to international treaties and join UN agencies. The UN Security Council began consultations in September. Legislation Legislative authority rests with the 88-member Palestinian Legislative Council (al Majlis al Tashri'i) which is elected on a first past the post system. Members are elected for a five-year term Palestinian Legislative Council, Al Bireh. URL: Palestinian National Authority Transitional Government (as at June 2012) President: Mahmoud Abbas Prime Minister: Salam Khaled Fayyad Minister of Finance: Nabil Qassis Minister of Foreign Affairs: Riyad Najib Abd-al-Rahman al Maliki Minister of the Interior: Sa'id Abu Ali Minister of the Environment: Yousef Abu Safieh Minister of Health: Hani Abdeen Minister of Education: Lamis Alami Minister of Higher Education: Ali Jarbawi Minister of Justice: Ali Muhanna Minister of Tourism: Rula Maayeh Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs: Sheikh Mahmud Sidqi al Habbash Minister of Women's Affairs: Rubayha Dhiyab Minister of Local Government: Khaled Al Qawasmi Minister of the Economy: Jawad Naji Minister of Transport: Ali Abu Zuhri Minister of Agriculture: Walid Assaf Minister of Prisoner Affairs: Isa Qaraqi Minister of Culture: Siham Al Barghouthi Minister of Labour: Ahmad Al Majdalani Minister of Telecommunications: Safa Nasser El-Din Minister of Social Affairs: Majida Al Masri Minister of Planning: Mahmoud Abu Ramadan Minister of Public Works and Housing: Naher Ghneim Minister of Jerusalem Affairs: Adnan Husseini Ministries Ministry of Agriculture, Al Balua, PO Box 197, Ramallah. Tel: +972 (0)2 298 7029/6502, (0)7 282 91234/4, fax: +972 (0)2 298 7028/7422, (0)7 286 3926
  5. 5. Ministry of Bethlehem 2000 Project, Tel: +972 (0)2 279 2227 / (0) 298 0208, fax: +972 (0)2 279 2224 Ministry of Civil Affairs, Green Tower Building, An Nuzha Street, PO Box 2074, Ramallah. Tel: +972 (0)2 298 7336-9, (0)7 282 7856/66, fax: +972 (0)2 298 7335, (0)7 282 7846 Ministry of Culture, Ar Rayan Building, Irsal Street, PO Box 147, Ramallah. Tel: +972 (0)2 298 6205/6, fax: +972 (0)2 298 6204, e-mail:, URL: Ministry of Education, PO Box 576, Ramallah. Tel: +972 (0)2 298 3200/56, (0)7 286 1409/2300, fax: +972 (0)2 298 3222, (0)7 286 5909, URL: Ministry of Finance, Beirut Street, Tel Al Hawa, PO Box 4007, Gaza. Tel: +972 (0)8 282 6365, fax: +972 (0)8 282 0690, URL: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, PO Box 1336, Ramalla, West Bank. Tel: +970 (0)2 240 5040 / 1456, fax: +970 (0)2 240 3772, e-mail:, URL: Ministry of Health, Abu Khadra Building, PO Box 1035, Gaza. Tel: +972 (0)7 282 9301-3/1733-8, (0)9 238 4771-6, fax: +972 (0)7 286 9809/26295, (0)9 238 4777/26295, URL: Ministry of Higher Education, Um Sharayet, PO Box 17360, Jerusalem, Ramallah. Tel: +972 (0)2 298 2600, fax: +972 (0)2 295 4518, (0)7 282 8554, URL: Ministry of Environmental Affairs, P. O. Box 3841, Ramallah, West Bank. URL: Ministry of Housing, Damascus Street, Southern Rimal, PO Box 4034, Gaza. Tel: +972 (0)2 298 7704/51434, (0)7 282 9149/40555. fax: (0)2 298 7705. (0)7 282 2235 Ministry of Industry, Um Sharayet, PO Box 2073, Ramallah. Tel: +972 (0)2 298 7641/2/4041, fax: +972 (0)2 298 6640/7642, (0)7 282 8448, URL: Ministry of Information, Acre Street, Al-Bireh, PO Box 244, Ramallah. Tel: +972 (0)2 295 4042, fax: +972 (0)2 295 4043, e-mail:, URL: Ministry of the Interior, An Nasser Street, Gaza. Tel: +972 (0)2 295 9395/8, (0)7 282 9090/1/62500, fax: +972 (0)2 295 9394, (0)7 828 4016/5 Ministry of Justice, Gaza. Tel: +972 (0)7 282 2231/318, fax: +972 (0)7 286 7109/20265 Ministry of Labour, PO Box: 351, Industrial Zone, Ramallah. Tel: +972 (0)2 290 0375, fax: +972 (0)2 290 0607, URL: Ministry of Local Government, Kitf Al Wad, PO Box 98, Jericho. Tel: +972 (0)2 232 2619/1556/240, fax: +972 (0)2 232 1240 Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, First Floor, Shalash Building, Al-Irsal Street, Ramallah. Tel: +972 (0)2 296 0872 / 296 0873, fax: +972 (0)2 298 1101, e-mail:, URL: Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, PO Box 4017, Gaza. Tel: +972 (0)2 244 7044/5/406/7/10, (0)7 286 7334, (0)7 282 9260, (0)7 282 1655/2482 /4090, fax: +972 (0)2 244 7181, (0)7 282 4090/2937, e-mail:, URL: Ministry of Public Works, Sateh Marhaba, Al Bireh, PO Box 29, Ramallah. Tel: +972 (0)2 298 0206/8/7888, (0)50 356422, (0)7 282 9232/4/62900, fax: +972 (0) 298 7890, (0)7 286 8475/23635 Ministry of Social Affairs, Old Housing Building, Rimal, Gaza. Tel: +972 (0)2 298 6183/4, (0)7 282 9189/20686, fax: +972 (0)2 295 5723, (0)7 282 0686/4730 Ministry of Supplies, Al Wihda Street, Gaza. Tel: (0)2 298 7895-7/898, (0)7 282 4324/25206 Ministry of Telecommunications, Gaza. Tel: +972 (0)2 298 6555/7/8/946, (0)50 445457, (0)7 282 5612/57888/29171, fax: +972 (0)2 298 6556, (0)7 282 6399, URL: Tourism and Antiquities, Old Municipal Building, Al Mahed Square, PO Box 534, Bethlehem. Tel: +972 (0)2 274 1581-3/641, (0)2 277 0603, (0)7282 9461/2/4866/76, fax: +972 (0)2 274 3753/70604, (0)7 282 4856 Ministry of Trade and Economy, Charles de Gaulle Street, Rimal, PO Box 4023, Gaza. Tel: +972 (0)2 298 1214-9/12, (0)7 282 9545/142/0682, fax: +972 (0)2 298 1210-5, (0)7 282 4884, URL: Ministry of Transport, PO Box 399, Ramallah. Tel: +972 (0)2 298 6944/6/7, (0)7 282 9133, fax: (0)2 298 6945, (0)7 284 0215/22297 Ministry of Waqf and Religious Affairs, Al Yarmuk Street, PO Box 283, Gaza. Tel: +972 (0)2 222 8550, (0)50 353308, (0)7 282 4837, fax: +972 (0)2 282 4156/9
  6. 6. Ministry of Youth and Sport, Ash Shifa Street, Southern Rimal, PO Box 1416, Gaza. Tel: +972 (0)2 298 5981/2/6490, (0)7 282 6689/2743, fax: +972 (0)2 298 5991, (0)7 282 2736 Political Parties Fatah (Palestinian National Liberation Movement ), PFLP, DFLP, FIDA, the People's Party, and Hamas. All parties, with the exception of Hamas, are members of the PLO. Elections Following the death of Yasser Arafat in November 2004, presidential elections took place on 9 January 2005; interim Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas won a landslide victory with 62.3 per cent of the vote, beating Mustafa Barghouti who received 19.8 per cent. Turnout was about 66 per cent. The first Legislative elections in ten years were held on 26 January 2006. The Islamic militant group Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) won a surprise victory, gaining 76 of the 132 seats in the Palestinian parliament. Voters cited corruption within the Fatah government as the main cause for support for Hamas, a party committed to the destruction of the Jewish state. The Fatah party refused to be included in a Hamas-led Government. Results of the election can be seen in the table below: Party Seats won Hamas 76 Fatah 43 PFLP 3 Badil 2 Independent Palestine 2 Third Way 2 Independent/Other 4 77 per cent of those eligible voted. Both presidential and legislative elections were scheduled for 24 January 2010 but both have been postponed. Diplomatic Representation British Consulate-General, (Represented by the Consulate-General in Jerusalem) 19 Nashashibi Street, Sheikh Jarrah Quarter, PO Box 19690, East Jerusalem 97200, Occupied Territories. Tel: +972 (0)2 541 4100, fax: +972 (0)2 628 3021, URL: Consul-General: Sir Vincent Fean Palestinian Diplomatic Mission in the UK, 5 Galena Road, Hammersmith, London, W6 0LT, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (0)208 563 0008, fax: +44 (0)208 563 0058, URL: Ambassador: Manuel Hassassian Palestine Liberation Organization Office USA, 1730 K Street NW, 1004, Washington DC 20006, U.S.A. Tel: +1 202 785 8394, fax: +1 202 887 5337, URL: Chief Representative: Maen Rashid Areikat US Consulate General, Jerusalem, 18 Agron Road, Jerusalem 94190, 27 Nablus Road, Jerusalem 94190. Tel: 972 2 622 7230 / 972 2 625 3288, fax: 972 2 625 9270, e-mail:, URL: Consul General: Daniel Rubenstein Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations, 115 East 65th Street, New York, NY 10021, USA. Tel: +1 212 288 8500, fax: +1 212 517 2377, e-mail:, URL: Legal System Presidents Abbas and Fatah control Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces in the West Bank. There have been reports of torture at the hands of the PA, as well as arbitrary and prolonged detentions. There is official corruption and impunity. Prison conditions are poor. Five people were reported to be executed during 2010. In Gaza, Hamas has established its own security forces. There have been reports that these have killed, tortured, kidnapped and harassed Fatah members with impunity. Hamas and other Palestinian factions in Gaza continue to shell civilian targets in Israel.
  7. 7. Israeli authorities use excessive force, abuse civilians and torture Palestinian detainees. Prison conditions are overcrowded, and the Israelis impose severe restrictions on internal and external movement by Palestinians. Independent Commission for Human Rights, URL: Local Government The Palestinian Authority had a policy of intensive municipilization in its early years.There are three levels of government in the Occupied Palestinian Territories: central, regional and municipal. At the central level, the Ministry of Local Government was founded in 1994, It has a presence in every regional capital. The regional level is made up of governorates (muhafazat). under the supervision of the Ministry of the Interior and led by nominees from the President of the Palestinian Authority. Fourteen governorates were founded in 1995, nine in the West Bank (Nablus, Qalqilya, Tulkarm, Jenin, Jericho, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and Jerusalem) and five in the Gaza Strip (North Gaza, Gaza City, Deir el-Balah, Khan Yunis and Rafah). They replaced the eight regions set up by the Israeli administration. Two regions (Tubas and Salfit) have the status of separate 'autonomous district'. The local level consists of municipalities and village councils.There are currently 121 municipalities (96 in the West Bank and 25 in the Gaza Strip) and 355 village councils. Local elections were held for the first time since 1976 in 2005. Four rounds of voting were held throughtout 509 local authorities (municipalities or village districts). Hamas dominated. Area and Population Area The Occupied Palestinian Territories consist of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The area of the West Bank is 5,860 sq. km, of which 5,640 sq. km is land and 220 sq. km is water. The Gaza Strip has a total area of 360 sq. km. The Israeli Government withdrew all Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005. The Palestinian Authority controls just under 40 per cent of the West Bank, where a number of Israeli settlements are located. To view a map, please consult Population The total world population of Palestinians in 2007 was estimated to be 9.7 million by the Central Bureau of Statistics, of which 2.4 live in the West Bank and 1.4 live in the Gaza Strip. The population within Occupied Palestinian Territories grew by 2.2 per cent over 2008. Around 1.1 million Palestinians live in the non-occupied areas of Israel, and there is a diaspora of 4.8 million. The largest number of Palestinians living outside the Territories is in Jordan, where 2.5-2.8 million live, over 1.93 million of them in ten refugee camps. The Lebanon has twelve official refugee camps, where 416,608 Palestinian refugees have settled. According to UNRWA statistics, the total number of registered Palestinian refugees rose from 870,000 in 1953 to over 4.6 million in 2008, and continues to rise due to natural population growth. (Palestine refugees are defined as persons who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, and their descendants through the male line). The population of the Gaza Strip increased by almost 40 per cent over the decade to 2007, indicating an average annual growth rate of 3.3 per cent. At this rate, the population could double in 21 years, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. A large proportion of the population, (over 20 per cent in 2008) is aged below 15 years, and the median age is 20.2 years. Births, Marriages, Deaths Estimates for 2008 put the birth rate at 25.9 births per 1,000 inhabitants and the death rate at 3.7 deaths per 1,000 people. Life expectancy at birth in 2008 was estimated at 74 years. The fertility rate was 3.3 children per woman of childbearing age. Public Holidays 2013 1 January: New Year's Day/Fateh Establishment Day 24 January: The Prophet's Birthday (Mawlid an Nabi)* 7 May: Labour Day 6 June: Isra al-Miraj* 9 July: Beginning of Ramadan 8 August: End of Ramadan (Eid al Fitr)* 15 October: Feast of the Sacrifice (Eid al Adha)* 15 November: National Day 4 November: Islamic New Year*
  8. 8. *Islamic holy day: precise date depends upon appearance of the moon. Public Holidays 2014 1 January: New Year's Day/Fateh Establishment Day 14 January: The Prophet's Birthday (Mawlid an Nabi)* 7 May: Labour Day 27 May: Isra al-Miraj* 29 June: Beginning of Ramadan 29 July: End of Ramadan (Eid al Fitr)* 5 October: Feast of the Sacrifice (Eid al Adha)* 25 October: Islamic New Year* 15 November: National Day *Islamic holy day: precise date depends upon appearance of the moon. Employment Figures from the International Labour Organisation put the labour force at 871,900 for the whole of the Palestinian Territory over the year 2006, equivalent to 41.3 per cent of the population aged 15 years and over. Those in employment numbered 666,000 over the same period, while those unemployed numbered 206,000 (23.2 per cent of the labour force). Banking and Finance GDP/GNP, Inflation, National Debt The economy is severely hindered by restricutions of the movement of Palestinian people and goods. The infrastrucutre has also been destroyed by Israeli bombing raids. The Occupied Palestinian Territory also depends on foreign aid. There have been some easing of the restrtictions in 2010 and 2011. The economy was also boosted by increased aid and improved security. The economic situation has improved more in the West Bank than Gaza; in the West Bank per capita income has returned to its 1999 level whereas in Gaza it is substantially lower. GDP was estimated to be US$5 billion in 2006, rising to an estimated US$11 billion in 2008 with growth of 0.8 per cent. GDP per capita was estimated at US$1,764 in the same year. Per capita was estimated to have risen to US$2,900 by 2008. GDP was US$12 billion in 2009, reflecting a growth rate of 7 per cent. The services sector accounts for 80 per cent of GDP; industry contributes 23 per cent and agriculture accounts for 12 per cent of GDP. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) (base year 1996 = 100) for the Occupied Palestinian Territories (all items) rose from 148.58 in December 2005, to 153.46 in December 2006 reflecting an annual increase of 2.51 per cent. Price rises were greatest in Gaza ( 4.63 per cent), whilst Jerusalem and the Remaining West Bank showed increases of 1.61 per cent and 2.08 per cent respectively. Commodities showing the largest rise over the year were food (4.32 per cent) and transport and communications (3.53 per cent). Inflation was estimated to be 11 per cent in 2008. Balance of Payments / Imports and Exports The following table shows exports, imports and trade balance (US$ current prices): Exports, Imports and Trade Balance, (US$'000) Area 2003 2005 Exports 279,680 335,443 Imports 1,800,268 2,666,772 Trade Balance 1,520,588 2,331,329 Source: Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics
  9. 9. The Occupied Territories export mainly to Jordan and Israel and import most of their requirements from the same region. Exports amounted to US$500 million in 2009 and imports US$3.7 million. Value of imports and exports by SITC (2002) is shown on the following table: Value of imports and exports by SITC, 2002 (US$'000) Section Exports Imports Food and live animals 27,036 261,172 Beverages and tobacco 13,657 52,965 Crude materials inedible except fuels 14,375 29,501 Mineral fuels lubricants and related materials 2,481 360,092 Animal and vegetable oils fats and waxes 5,720 9,706 Chemicals and related products 20,263 94,026 Manufactured goods 94,954 185,006 Machinery and transport equipment 12,042 89,593 Misc. manufactured articles 49,834 35,480 505 9 240,867 1,117,550 Other commodities and transactions TOTAL Source: Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics Banking Bank of Palestine Ltd, P.O. Box: 471, Ramallah. Tel: +970 (02) 296 5010, fax: +970 (02) 296 4703, e-mail:, URL: Chairman and General Manager: Dr. Hashim Shawa Chambers of Commerce and Trade Organisations Palestine Trade Center (PALTRADE), URL: Manufacturing, Mining and Services Energy Most electricity is imported from Israel; East Jerusalem Electric Company buys and distributes electricity to Palestinians in East Jerusalem and its concession in the West Bank; the Israel Electric Company directly supplies electricity to most Jewish residents and military facilities; some Palestinian municipalities, such as Nablus and Janin, generate their own electricity from small power plants. In 2007, the Israeli government approved cuts in the supply of electricity and fuel as punishment for rocket attacks from Gaza. Israel argued that it is not bound to supply utilities to the civilian population of a 'hostile entity'. The international community held that Israel remains legally responsible for the coastal strip because it still controls Gaza's borders, airspace and territorial waters. Israel supplies 60 per cent (120 megawatts) of the Gaza's electricity requirements, 17 megawatts are supplied by Egypt and the Gaza produces the balance of 65 megawatts. The UN said that the sanctions punish an entire population and are therefore unacceptable. Service Industries According to 2003 statistics, the Occupied Territories has a total of 11,925 services enterprises, employing a total of 41,153 people, with an output of US$302,234,600. The largest sector is education, with a 2003 output of US$80,459,400 and 9,766 employees. Agriculture 12 per cent of the male labour force and 33 per cent of the female workforce are active in the agriculture sector. Most of the men are self employed, whilst over 80 per cent of the women are unpaid family members. Cereals and olives are produced in the Occupied Territories. In terms of livestock, sheep are the main animals reared, followed by cattle and goats. Poultry is also reared. Agricultural Production in 2010 Produce Int. $'000* Tonnes
  10. 10. Produce Int. $'000* Tonnes Olives 79,270 99,000 Tomatoes 74,726 202,200 Indigenous chicken meat 69,794 48,999 Cucumbers and gherkins 49,081 247,200 Hen eggs, in shell 33,590 40,500 Grapes 32,525 56,900 Cow milk, whole, fresh 30,676 98,300 Indigenous sheep meat 27,746 10,190 Almonds, with shell 21,247 7,200 Sheep milk, whole, fresh 16,706 42,900 Anise, badian, fennel, corian 14,891 2,700 Indigenous goat meat 11,591 4,838 * unofficial figures Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Food and Agricultural commodities production Fishing In 2010, almost 1,700 tonnes of fish were caught; a large proportion of which were sardines. Communications and Transport International Airports There are three paved airports in the Occupied Territories. Roads Road network length in the Palestinian Territory by region and road type is shown on the following table (km): Area Paved Roads Unpaved Roads Total West Bank 5,196.8 2,121.2 7,318 Gaza Strip 701.3 290.7 992.0 5,898.1 2,411.9 8,310 Palestinian Territory Source: Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics However, the road network has been severely damaged by successive Israeli airstrikes and military incursions. Health The Palestinian territories benefit from generous medical aid and highly skilled doctors and nurses. According to 2004 statistics, there were a total of 74 hospitals in the Occupied Territories, with 5,108 beds. 24 of the hospitals were government-run, whilst 50 were privately administered. However, restrictions on movement caused by checkpoints and by the new security barrier erected by the Israelis often means that medical supplies do not arrive at their destination. The World Health Organisation warned that the health situation in the West Bank and Gaza had reached a critical point in 2004, and could collapse if further assistance was not forthcoming. Malnutrition was rising and vaccination levels were falling, whilst diseases such as diabetes were not being adequately treated. With the election of Hamas in 2006, the situation worsened; funding cuts by Israel and donor countries led to shortages of drugs and unpaid salaries for clinical staff. After three months, the USA, the EU, the UN, Russia and Israel agreed to release emergency aid through a trust fund. Since the closure of crossings into Gaza, prices of staple foods have increased, and around 70 per cent of Gazans rely on food assistance. Chronic malnutrition and dietaryrelated disease such as iron-deficiency anaemia are increasing, according to the World Health Organization. In January 2008, UNRWA believed Gaza to be on the brink of a public health disaster. Power cuts in Gaza after Israel bombed the only power plant in late June 2006 mean that hospitals and sewage treatment plants rely on diesel generators. Hospitals and pharmacies in Gaza are dangerously short of drugs and medical equipment. Restrictions have been tightened on patients needing to leave Gaza for treatment. In 2011, the Ministry of health warned of unprecedented shortages of medicines.
  11. 11. According to figures from WHO, as of 2009, GDP per capita was US$1,949. Total expenditure on health amounted to 6.4 per cent of GDP. General government expenditure on health was approximately 38.3 per cent of total health expenditure. In 2009, per 10,000 population, there were 28.3 doctors, 35.2 nurses and midwives, 16.7 pharmacists and 4.2 dentists. There were 0.7 hospital beds per 10,000 population. Approximately 88 per cent of the population have access to health care. In 2008, the average infant mortality was 17 per 1,000 who survived their first year. Child mortality (under-fives) was 21.8 per 1,000. The figures increase with regard to Palestinian children in refugee camps. Education The UN have estimated that up to 330,000 school-children have their education disrupted regularly. Israeli military closures, curfews, and the West Bank wall and fencing restrict access to Palestinian academic institutions. Israeli authorities have at times shut universities, and schools have been damaged during military operations. In the 2003-04 school year the Occupied Territories' schools numbered 2,192, of which 1,497 were basic primary, and 695 were secondary. 1,662 were government-run, 273 were UNRWA-run, and 258 were private. Students in the same year numbered 931,260 in Primary education and 112,675 going on to secondary schools. In 2007 73 per cent of children of the relevant age attended a primary school, and 89 per cent of the relevant age group attended secondary school. Higher Education The Occupied Territories' universities include: Al-Quds University, Birzeit University, AN-Najah University, Bethlehem University, Hebron University, and Al-Azhar University, Gaza. In June 2008, Palestinian human rights groups in Gaza said hundreds of students would miss deadlines to pursue studies at universities abroad if Israel did not relax travel restrictions. This followed the reinstatement by the US state department of Fulbright grants to seven Palestinians in Gaza. The scholarships had been withdrawn because Israel would not provide exit permits to the students. Human right groups and some Israeli politicians have described the policy of not letting the students out as "collective punishment". Religion The majority of Palestinians (80 per cent) are Muslim (mainly Sunni), whilst 12 per cent are Jewish, and two per cent are Christian. Pope Benedict XVI visited the West Bank in May 2009, and offered his support for the Palestinians' right to a homeland. The Occupied Territories have a religious liberty rating of 4 on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 is most freedom). (Source: World Religion Database) Communications and Media Seen as one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists, violence against journalists is relatively common, and kidnappings of journalists in Gaza were frequent in 2006, although in most cases the reporters and photographers were freed quickly. Newspapers Al Quds, URL: Al-Ayyam, URL: Palestinian News Agency (WAFA), URL: Broadcasting In 2008, there were 30 television stations and 25 radio stations in the Territories. The Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) runs the Voice of Palestine (VOP) radio station, which broadcasts in Arabic, English and Hebrew. Voice of Palestine Ramallah. E-mail:, URL: Al-Aqsa, Hamas operated, URL: Telecommunications The Israeli company BEZEK and the Palestinian company PALTEL are responsible for fixed line services, whilst the Palestinian JAWAL company provides cellular services. It is estimated that there were 350,000 mainline telephones in use in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in 2007, and 1.095 million mobile phones. In the same year, there were an estimated 255,500 internet users. Environment Current environmental problems include the inadequacy of fresh water and the treatment of sewage. Cite this page
  12. 12. "Occupied Palestinian Territories." International Year Book and Statesmen's Who's Who. Edited by: Jennifer Dilworth, Megan Stuart-Jones. Brill Online, 2013. Library. 27 October 2013 <>