Historic Palestine is based in the Middle East bordering Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. Nowadays Palestine comprises the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on the Eastern Mediterranean Coast.
Capital: East Jerusalem
Area: West Bank 5,640km2 / Gaza 45 km2
Population: West Bank 2,5 million / Gaza 1,5 million
Diaspora: More than 5 million Palestinians live as refugees – hundreds of thousands still live in overcrowded refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
Under UNRWA’s (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) operational definition, Palestinian refugees are people whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict. Today more than 5 million Palestinians live as refugees, hundreds of thousands of whom still live in overcrowded refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
UNRWA’s services are available to all those living in its area of operations who meet this definition, who are registered with the Agency and who need assistance. The descendants of the original Palestine refugees are also eligible for registration. When the Agency started working in 1950, it was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees. Today, 5 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services. UNRWA is the main provider of basic services – education, health, relief and social services – to 5 million registered Palestine refugees in the Middle East.
- Poltical system: parliamentary democracy with a bicameral legislative system.
- Government: The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) was established in 1994 as an outcome of the Oslo peace process as the elected government. The PNA was established as a five year interim body to see over Palestinian affairs in the Occupied Territories. The PNA was created by and has historically been associated with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO, established in 1964), with whom Israel negotiated the Oslo Accords. However the PNA should not be confused with the PLO who continues to enjoy international recognition as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, representing them at the United Nations and abroad.
- President: Mahmoud Abbas
The President is elected every four years and he appoints the Prime Minister.
- Prime Minister: Mohammad Shtayyeh .
- According to the Palestinian Basic Law (signed by Yasser Arafat in 2002), the current structure of the PNA is based on three separate branches of power: executive, legislative, and judiciary.
- The Negotiations Affairs Department (NAD) was established in 1994 in Gaza in order to follow up on the implementation of the Interim Agreement signed between Israel and the PLO. The NAD has two offices; one in Gaza which is composed of units responsible for Israeli affairs, Israel’s violations of signed agreements, Israel’s colonization (i.e. its illegal settlement policies) and Palestinian refugees; the other office is located in Ramallah where it is responsible for following up on the Interim Agreements and preparing Palestinian positions for the Permanent Status talks with Israel.
Official language: Arabic
There are speakers of different Arabic dialects, however they all understand its classical form as exemplified in its textual representation.
Religion: ~96% Sunni Muslims, ~2% Christians
The majority of Christians belong to the Greek Orthodox Church, but there are also Greek Catholics, Roman Catholic community, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, and a few Protestant denominations. Several small Shi’a and Samaritans populations can also be found in Palestine.
- Main sector: tourism
- Quarrying and building stone industry: a significant portion of the total product is exported locally and to Jordan, Europe and North America.
- Main industries: small family businesses that produce cement, textiles, soap, olive-wood carvings, and mother-of-pearl souvenirs.