The Palestinian Territories

 Country File

Population: 4,013,126 (CIA, 2009)
West Bank: 2,461,267 inhabitants, 443,702 Israeli settlers settled in the area, of which 181,000 are in East Jerusalem where
Israelis represent 67% and the Palestinian population is 33%. 722,000 Palestinians
are refugees in refugee camps (CIA WFB 2009)
0-14 years: 37.3% of the total pop.
15-64 years: 59.1% of the total pop.
65 years and over: 3.7%% of total pop.
Gaza Strip: 1,551,859, of which 1,059,584 Palestinians are in refugee camps
0-14 years: 44.4% of the total pop.
15-64 years: 53% of the total pop.
65 years and over: 2.6% of the total pop.
Population density in Gaza: 4270 inhab. / per sq. km.
Capital: Jerusalem (de jure), Ramallah (West Bank), Gaza City (Gaza Strip)
Surface: 6220 sq. km. (360 sq. km. Gaza Strip, West Bank 5860 sq. km.)
Currency: the currency used is the “New Israeli Shekel” (NIS).
The exchange rate was 5.5 Nis for 1 euro (as of April 2009). The Jordanian dinar also circulates.
Language: Arabic, Hebrew (English is widely understood)
Gaza Strip: Muslim 99% (mostly Sunni), Christian 1%
West Bank: Muslim 75% (mostly Sunni), Jewish 17%, Christian 8%
Ethnic groups:
Gaza Strip: Palestinian Arab
West Bank: Palestinian Arabs 83%, Jews 17%

International Legal Context

The Palestinian People enjoys a right of self-determination. While the Palestinian People historically associated itself with the territorial unit formerly known as Historic Palestine (currently Gaza, the West Bank and Israel minus the Golan Heights), the Palestinian People, represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization (OLP), has concentrated its efforts, especially since 1988, on exercising its collective right through the establishment of a state within the territorial unit comprised of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
In June 1967, the Israeli military took control of the Palestinian territories. Since then, Israel has maintained actual and effective control over the Palestinian population. The position of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, the UN General Assembly, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Committee of the Red Cross and even the Israeli High Court of Justice is that Israel occupies the Palestinian territories. Israel does not have sovereignty over, or title to, the Palestinian territories. Sovereignty remains vested with the Palestinian population.
The customary rule against acquiring territory by force underpins this fundamental premise of occupation law.

Indeed, Res UNSC. 242 emphasizes the inadmissibility of acquiring territory by war and affirms that a resolution to the conflict should include "withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the 1967 conflict."

Negotiations Context
In the early 1990s, the political status of the territories has been the subject of negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and of numerous statements and resolutions by the United Nations. The purpose was to “achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement and historic reconciliation through the agreed political process based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338"
The most important one was the Oslo Agreements (Oslo I-1993) which represented the first direct, face-to-face agreement between the government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).   The Accords provided for the creation of a Palestinian National Authority (PNA). The Palestinian National Authority would have the responsibility for the administration of the territory under its control. The Accord also called for the withdrawal of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) from parts of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.   The  Oslo Agreements (Oslo I) carried forward a series of agreements:
The Gaza-Jericho Agreement (1994) called on Israel to withdraw from Gaza and Jericho within a certain period of time.
The 1995 Interim Agreement (Oslo II) called for a gradual transfer of power from Israel to the Palestinians over a five-year period, with permanent status negotiations on the most difficult issues to begin two years after an initial Israeli withdrawal from Jericho and Gaza.   To ostensibly facilitate the transfer of authority to the Palestinians, the 1995 Interim Agreement divided the West Bank into three Areas.
Areas A, B, and C and it also provided that the parties would have varying degrees of authority in each. As with Areas A, the 1995 Interim Agreement mandated a “complete redeployment of Israeli military forces from Area B.” It further provided that Area C, “except for the issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations (Jerusalem, settlements, specified military locations), will be gradually transferred to Palestinian jurisdiction” as part of the three-stage “further redeployments”.

Nature of the Jurisdictional Areas (See Maps Section)
Today, the West Bank is divided among Areas A, B and C in the following way:

Area A includes all the areas from which Israeli military control has been transferred to the administration of the Palestinian Authority, including the areas of Gaza and Jericho, and the seven major Palestinian population centers in the West Bank — Nablus, Kalkilya, Tulkarem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jenin and Hebron (special arrangements for the redeployment from Hebron were concluded in the Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron and the Note for the Record, January 17, 1997).
In these areas, the Palestinian Authority now has full responsibility for internal security and public order, as well as full responsibility for civil affairs.

Area B includes 450 Palestinian towns and villages in the West Bank.
In these areas, as in Area A, the Palestinian Authority controls all civil authority. However, it differs from Area A in that Israel maintains overriding security authority in order to safeguard its citizens and to combat terrorism.

Area C covers all remaining territory in the West Bank. Included in this category are all Jewish settlements, area that Israel considers to be of strategic importance.

Note that East Jerusalem and the other parts of the West Bank falling within the boundaries of the Israeli-defined Jerusalem municipality, are not part of any of Areas A, B and C.

Both the Declaration of Principles and the 1995 Interim Agreement explicitly state that the jurisdiction and authority of the Palestinian Authority (PA) does not cover Jerusalem. However, neither the Declaration of Principles nor the 1995 Interim Agreement specifies explicitly whether Israel continues to have jurisdiction over East Jerusalem in the interim period. Thus, the status quo ante which existed in East Jerusalem prior to the signing of the interim agreements, namely the status of Israel as an occupying power, continues to apply.

The City of Hebron is not a part of any of Areas A, B and C.

Rather, the Hebron Protocol divided the city into two sections:
  • H-1, which consisted of about 80% with 140 000 Palestinians, came under the control of the Palestinian authorities (internal security and public order, as well as full responsibility for civil affairs);
  • H-2, which comprised the remaining 20% and is inhabited by around 30 000 Palestinians and approximately 500 Israeli settlers in four downtown settlements, remained under Israeli military control is under Israel control. 

Economy in the West Bank

After a period of advancements in the quality and functioning of Palestinian institutions, teamed with high levels of growth, improved living conditions and security, in recent years the economy grew at a slower rate – from 11% per year in 2011, to 1.9% in 2013.
This slow-down can be attributed to falling donor support, combined with insufficient easing of Israeli restrictions, notably in East Jerusalem, Area C (the most resource-abundant territories,  representing almost 3/4 of the West Bank) and the Gaza Strip, following the slowing down of the last round of US led peace negotiations.
In 2013, unemployment rose to almost 25% (40% in the Gaza Strip), with the highest incidence among young graduates (33%) and women (only 17.7% of Palestinian women participate in the work force). The slow macroeconomic growth also affects the institutional building process of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) by reducing tax revenue, thus deepening the fiscal crisis. The foreseen fiscal gap for 2014 is expected to reach USD 1.3 billion, equal to 15% of the Palestinian GDP. As a consequence, the PNA sustainability and capacity of providing social services to the Palestinian population will be reduced further.
Economy in Gaza Strip
High population density, limited land and sea access, continuing isolation, and strict internal and external security controls have degraded economic conditions in the Gaza Strip - the smaller of the two areas in the Palestinian Territories.
Israeli-imposed crossings closures, which became more restrictive after HAMAS violently took over the territory in June 2007. 
Shortages of goods are met through large-scale humanitarian assistance - led by UNRWA - and the black market tunnel trade that flourishes under the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt.
However, changes to the blockade in 2010 included moving from a white list - in which only approved items were allowed into Gaza through the crossings - to a black list, where all but non-approved items were allowed into Gaza through the crossings. Israeli authorities have recently signaled that exports from the territory might be possible in the future, but currently regular exports from Gaza are not permitted.