Population: 4,019,433 (est.)
Language(s): Arabic, Hebrew
Capital: Gaza City (provisional)
- Palestine uses the Jordanian dinar, Egyptian pound and the Israeli new shekel as forms of currency.
- The majority of Palestinians are Muslim 75% (predominantly Sunni), and there are also considerable Jewish 8%, Christian and other (17%) communities.
- Over half of the Palestinian population, live under poverty line, with majority of the poverty-stricken areas found in the Gaza strip.
- For centuries, ‘olives’ have been an integral part of the Palestinian culture, tradition and ethos.
- 45% of the land in Palestine is dedicated to olive production. Most of this land is found in the West Bank.
- The current Palestinian government works along the rules and regulations laid down in the Constitution of Palestine which came into existence in 1968.
The Palestinian territories or occupied Palestinian territories (OPT or oPt) comprise the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. In 1993, following the Oslo Accords, parts of the territories politically came under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian National Authority (Areas A and B). In 2007, the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip violently split from the Palestinian Authority, governing the area of Gaza independently since. Israel still exercises full military control and Israeli civil control over 61% of the West Bank (Area C). In April 2011, the Palestinian parties signed an agreement of reconciliation, but its implementation has stalled since. Subsequent reconciliation efforts in 2012 did not succeed either.
The areas of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were part of the territory west of the Jordan River of Mandatory Palestine under British governance, formed in 1922. From the 1948 Arab–Israeli War until the 1967 Six Day War, the West Bank was occupied and annexed by Jordan (annexation recognized only by UK and Pakistan) and the Gaza Strip occupied by Egypt, though limited authority had been exercised in Gaza by the All-Palestine Government from September 1948 until 1959. The borders of the Palestinian territories are currently considered to be delineated by the 1949 Armistice Agreements.
Since Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip from Jordan and Egypt in 1967, the international community, including the UN and international legal bodies, has often referred to those areas as the occupied Palestinian territories.
In 1980, Israel officially annexed East Jerusalem. The annexation was condemned internationally and declared “null and void” by the United Nations Security Council. In 1988, with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) intention to declare a Palestinian State, Jordan renounced all territorial claims to East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, some 130 UN Member Nations have recognized the State of Palestine, comprising the Palestinian territories. It has not been recognized by Israel and some Western nations, including the United States. Shortly, however, the Palestinian Authority was formed in the outcome of the 1993 Oslo Accords, exercising limited control over parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian National Authority, the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly, the European Union, the International Court of Justice,and the International Committee of the Red Cross regard East Jerusalem as part of the West Bank, and consequently a part of the Palestinian territories, while Israel regards it as part of Israel as a result of its annexation in 1980. According to the Israeli Supreme Court, the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits unilateral annexation of occupied territory, does not apply to East Jerusalem, as there was no “legitimate sovereign” there previously. The Palestinian National Authority, which maintains a territorial claim to East Jerusalem, never exercised sovereignty over the area. Israeli sovereignty, however, has not been recognized by any country, since unilateral annexation of territory conquered during war contravenes the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Oslo Accords (1995) established access to the sea for Gaza within 20 nautical miles from the shore. The Berlin Commitment of 2002 reduced this to 12 miles. In October 2006 Israel imposed a 6-mile limit, and at the conclusion of the Gaza War restricted access to a 3-nautical-mile limit, beyond which a no-go zone exists. As a result, over 3,000 fishermen are denied access to 85% of the maritime areas agreed to in 1995. The majority of the Dead Sea area is off-limits to Palestinian use, and Palestinians are denied access to its coast line.
The Hamas takeover of Gaza divided the Palestinian territories politically, with Abbas’s Fatah left largely ruling the West Bank and recognized internationally as the official Palestinian Authority. Both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are often still considered to be occupied by Israel, according to the international community. The Gaza Strip within the borders is governed by Hamas, while much of the West Bank is governed by the Ramallah-based Palestinian National Authority.