The system of governance and political tendencies in the country
Official name: State of Palestine (English: State of Palestine, Arabic: Dawlat Filastín)
According to Computergees, the Palestinian Autonomous Territories (PAT) include the relatively open environment of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which has been under Israeli military blockade since 2007. The West Bank is ruled by the Palestinian National Authority (PNS), which, based on the Oslo Accords, has administrative and security authority over the so-called Area A (approx. 18% of the area, mainly urban centers and larger villages) and administratively administers the so-called Area B (approx. 22 %, smaller municipalities). The remaining 60%, so-called Area C, is under full administrative and security control of Israel and, in addition to Palestinians, over 450,000 Israeli civilians (so-called settlers) live here. The administration of this territory is carried out by the Israeli army through the civilian administration of the occupied Palestinian territories COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories). The Gaza Strip has been controlled by the Islamist movement Hamas since 2007, which is included in the list of terrorist groups in the EU, and provides facilities for other armed groups. There are 27 refugee camps throughout the Palestinian territory (19 in the West Bank and 8 in Gaza) managed by the UN agency for Palestine refugees in the Middle East, UNRWA.
The PNS has been headed by President Mahmúd Abbas since 2005. The president appoints the government, and due to the dysfunctional parliament, he issues laws through presidential decrees. Presidential and parliamentary elections are repeatedly postponed, the last time they were supposed to be held in 2021. Elections to local councils are held relatively regularly, most recently in two phases in December 2021 and in March 2022. shore. There were no elections in the Gaza Strip, as Hamas and other political factions in the Gaza Strip decided to boycott them.
The Palestinian political scene is dominated by two movements – Fatah and Hamas. In connection with the planned elections in 2021, the breakup of Fatah into several competing currents was fully revealed, which would increase the chances of Hamas’s success if the elections were held. Negotiations between the two factions, which would allow the unblocking of the Palestinian political scene, are not taking place after the postponement of the elections at the end of April 2021. The internal split in the Palestinian political scene complicates possible political talks with Israel, which thus take place only on a technical level.
Composition of the government:
- Prime Minister: Dr. Mohamed Shtayyeh
- Deputy Prime Minister for Political Affairs: Ziad Abu Amr
- Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Information: Nabil Abu Rudeineh
- Minister of Foreign Affairs: Riyad al-Maliki
- Minister of Interior: Ziad Hab al-Reeh
- Minister of Finance and Planning: Shukri Bishara
- Minister of Labour: Dr. Nasri Abu Jaish
- Minister of National Economy: Khaled al-Osaily
- Minister of Public Works and Housing: Dr. Mohammad Ziyara
- Minister of Local Administration: Majdi al-Saleh
- Minister of Justice: Dr. Mohammad al-Shalaldeh
- Minister of Education: Prof. Marwan Awartani
- Minister for Higher Education: Dr. Mahmoud Abu Mouis
- Minister of Tourism: Rula Maayah
- Minister of Telecommunications and Information: Ishaq Sadr
- Minister of Agriculture: Riad al-Atari
- Minister of Social Development: Dr. Ahmad Majdalani
- Minister of Transport: Assem Salem
- Minister of Health: Mai al-Kaila
- Minister for Jerusalem Affairs: Fadi al-Hidmi
- Minister for Women’s Affairs: Dr. Amal Hamad
- Minister of Culture: Atef Abu Saif
- Minister of Religious Affairs: Sheikh Hatem al-Bakri
- Minister of State for Enterprise and Innovation: Usama al-Saadawi
- Government Spokesman: Ibrahim Milhim
- Secretary General of Governments: Amjad Ghanim
Foreign policy of the country
Palestine is recognized as a state by 138 of the 193 UN member states, while the EU member states (with the exception of Sweden) and the USA are not among them. The goal of the PNS is to achieve international recognition of the statehood of Palestine, which it strives for, among other things, through multilateral organizations (it has been a UN observer since 2012). This cannot be achieved without resolving disputed points (e.g. the status of Jerusalem, the question of Palestinian refugees, etc.) through direct negotiations with Israel, but these have not been taking place in recent years. On the Palestinian side, any negotiations on a future arrangement are undermined by political disunity. Neighboring Egypt, for example, is involved in the issue of intra-Palestinian reconciliation, but so far to no avail.
The EU is a major funder of development and humanitarian aid aimed at strengthening Palestine’s ability to function as an independent state. Its political priorities in relation to Palestine are intra-Palestinian reconciliation, the organization of parliamentary and presidential elections, and the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations with the aim of enabling the establishment of a Palestinian state. Many EU member states are also involved in development aid bilaterally, with France and Germany among the largest donors.
As a close ally of Israel, the USA is a significant actor in the Middle East conflict. During the term of office of the previous US administration, relations with Palestine fell to the freezing point, diplomatic relations and development aid from the US were effectively terminated. In January 2020, the US administration presented a plan (the so-called Deal of the Century), which proposed a solution to most of the disputed points in favor of Israel. The PNS and all Palestinian political factions rejected the plan. The planned Israeli annexation of part of the West Bank following this plan was eventually suspended, however, it led to increased tensions and a temporary suspension of cooperation with Israel. After the change of the US administration in January 2021, there was a change in policy towards Palestine, but less significantly than PNS had hoped. The US announced the resumption of development aid to the Palestinian Territories, they are in favor of a bilateral solution to the Palestinian future and have taken a more critical stance on some Israeli policies that go against it (eg settlement construction). Despite the declared interest, mutual diplomatic relations that were severed under the previous administration have not yet been restored, and overall the Palestinian issue is not very high on the list of foreign policy priorities in the US.
In 2020, there was a fundamental shift in the perception of the Palestinian issue by some Arab states (UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan), which normalized relations with Israel without insisting on the current condition of resolving the Palestinian issue. This is also related to the reluctance to continue supporting the PNS financially, as was the case in the recent past. In the region, the PNS is increasingly oriented towards Turkey, which shows its open support. Qatar is heavily involved in the Gaza Strip, both financially and politically, and Hamas is also supported by Iran.
At the end of 2021, 5.29 million Palestinians lived in the PAU, of which 3.15 million lived in the West Bank and 2.14 million in Gaza. The natural increase in 2021 was approximately 2.4%. The birth rate averages children per woman, the population growth rate is slightly higher in Gaza. In recent years, the birth rate has been slightly decreasing ( children per mother in 1999 versus in 2019). Registered refugees make up about 46% of the total population, almost 10% of the population live in one of the total of 27 refugee camps. In the Gaza Strip, refugees make up about 60% of the population. Palestinian citizenship also has approx. 350,000. residents of East Jerusalem, which was de facto annexed by Israel.
The Palestinian population is very young – the median age is 21. According to data for 2021, 40.9% of the population was under 15 years of age and only 2.8% of the population was over 65 years of age. 56.3% of the population is of working age (15-65 years). More than 60% of the population has at least a secondary education (this proportion is higher for women), illiteracy in the over-15 age group reaches 2.6%, mainly in the oldest age groups.
The Gaza Strip is among the most densely populated places in the world, with 5,693 inhabitants per km 2, while the West Bank has 545 inhabitants per km 2, with the largest concentration in Hebron Governorate in the southern part of the West Bank. The largest city is Gaza (approx. half a million inhabitants), and beyond the West Bank is Hebron (population close to a quarter of a million).
Data on the national composition are not published, the Arab (Arabic-speaking) population is dominant. The official religion is Islam, which is followed by almost 99% of the population, mainly its Sunni branch. Christianity is also recognized (over 1%), and the faith of the Samaritan community in Nablus. The largest part of Christian believers belongs to the Greek-Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, in addition to it, there are many other Eastern and Western churches active in Palestine. The holidays of the two largest religions are recognized as official (both Western and Eastern-Orthodox Christians).