I love to travel, but hate to arrive.
— Albert Einstein, 1879 - 1955
EN
EN

Palestinian territories

Background

Palestinian territories

The September 1993 Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements provided for a transitional period of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Under a series of agreements signed between May 1994 and September 1999, Israel transferred to the Palestinian Authority (PA) security and civilian responsibility for many Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Negotiations to determine the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip stalled following the outbreak of an intifada in September 2000. In April 2003, the Quartet (US, EU, UN, and Russia) presented a roadmap to a final settlement of the conflict by 2005 based on reciprocal steps by the two parties leading to two states, Israel and a democratic Palestine. Following Palestinian leader Yasir ARAFAT's death in late 2004, Mahmud ABBAS was elected PA president in January 2005. A month later, Israel and the PA agreed to the Sharm el-Sheikh Commitments in an effort to move the peace process forward. In September 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew all its settlers and soldiers and dismantled its military facilities in the Gaza Strip and withdrew settlers and redeployed soldiers from four small northern West Bank settlements. Nonetheless, Israel still controls maritime, airspace, and most access to the Gaza Strip. In January 2006, the Islamic Resistance Movement, HAMAS, won control of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). HAMAS took control of the PA government in March 2006, but President ABBAS had little success negotiating with HAMAS to present a political platform acceptable to the international community so as to lift economic sanctions on Palestinians. Violent clashes between Fatah and HAMAS supporters in the Gaza Strip in 2006 and early 2007 resulted in numerous Palestinian deaths and injuries. In February 2007, ABBAS and HAMAS Political Bureau Chief MISHAL signed the Mecca Agreement in Saudi Arabia that resulted in the formation of a Palestinian National Unity Government (NUG) headed by HAMAS member Ismail HANIYA. However, fighting continued in the Gaza Strip, and in June 2007, HAMAS militants succeeded in a violent takeover of all military and governmental institutions in the Gaza Strip. ABBAS dismissed the NUG and through a series of presidential decrees formed a PA government in the West Bank led by independent Salam FAYYAD. HAMAS rejected the NUG's dismissal, and despite multiple rounds of Egyptian-brokered reconciliation negotiations, the two groups have failed to bridge their differences. The status quo remains with HAMAS in control of the Gaza Strip and ABBAS and the Fatah-dominated PA governing the West Bank. FAYYAD and his PA government continue to implement a series of security and economic reforms to improve conditions in the West Bank. ABBAS has said he will not resume negotiations with current Prime Minister NETANYAHU until Israel halts all settlement activity in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

About

The occupied Palestinian territory consists of two physically separate entities, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and is not considered part of any sovereign nation. The West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza Strip have been under Israeli occupation since 1967 (Israel unilaterally withdrew its settlements from Gaza in 2005 although retains effective control of the region). The final status of the territory remains the subject of ongoing and future negotiations. The stated outcome of negotiations and final status talks is currently regarded as the eventual creation of a new, sovereign state - to be called simply Palestine.

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA or PA) is a semi-autonomous state institution (created in agreement with Israel and the United Nations) that officially is in charge of most of the Palestinian Territories. The PNA, dominated by the political faction Fatah, de facto only has control of certain areas of the West Bank depending upon the region; other areas are under Israeli control. Hamas, a rival group of Fatah, is de facto in control of the Gaza Strip. Hamas claims to be the only sole legitimate Palestinian government, but it is not internationally recognized.

Read more about Palestinian territories in our Palestinian territories travel guide »

Featured journals from

Palestinian territories

(Mis)adventures in Jerusalem, 2.0

by ashantur

Hopefully nobody will notice the dumb American trailing after her father trying not to incite further tension among the terrorists and infidels.

Jun 2010  »  United States | Israel | Palestinian territories | Germany

Palestinian territories

Capital
East Jerusalem
Location

Middle East, west of Jordan

Geographic coordinates

32 00 N, 35 15 E

Area comparative

slightly smaller than Delaware

Border countries

Israel 307 km, Jordan 97 km

Coastline

0 km (landlocked)

Climate

temperate; temperature and precipitation vary with altitude, warm to hot summers, cool to mild winters

Terrain

mostly rugged dissected upland, some vegetation in west, but barren in east

Lowest point

Dead Sea -408 m

Highest point

Tall Asur 1,022 m

Natural resources

arable land

Population

2,514,845 (July 2010 est.)

Ethnic groups

Palestinian Arab and other 83%, Jewish 17%

Religions

Muslim 75% (predominantly Sunni), Jewish 17%, Christian and other 8%

Languages

Arabic, Hebrew (spoken by Israeli settlers and many Palestinians), English (widely understood)

Internet country code

.ps; note - same as Gaza Strip

Internet users

1.379 million (includes Gaza Strip) (2009)

Airports

2 (2010)

Other countries in the region