Politics of the Palestinian territories

The politics of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) take place within the framework of a semi-presidential multi-party republic, with a Legislative Council, an executive President, and a Prime Minister leading the Cabinet. The PNA was not an internationally recognized independent sovereign state, although recognized by more than hundred countries. On 29 November 2012, the status of Palestine in the UN was upgraded to non-member observer "State of Palestine" and on January 2013 an official decree by Palestinian President was issued to rename all Palestinian Authority institutions to State of Palestine institutions.

Political developments since 1993

Israel and the PLO signed the Oslo Accords which established the Palestinian National Authority a governing body for the interim period pending final status negotiations.

Executive branch

The President of the Palestinian National Authority is the highest-ranking political position (equivalent to head of state) in the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). The president is elected by popular elections.

The Prime Minister is appointed by the President of the Palestinian National Authority and thus not directly elected by the Palestinian Legislative Council (parliament) or Palestinian voters.

Unlike the Prime Minister's office in many other nations, the Palestinian Prime Minister does not serve as a member of the legislature while in office. Instead, the appointment is made independently by the ruling party. The Prime Minister is expected to represent the majority party or ruling coalition in the parliament.

The leadership of the PNA has been disputed since the national unity government broke up on 14 June 2007 when President Abbas declared a state of emergency moved to dismiss Ismail Haniyeh as Prime Minister but he and the Palestinian Legislative Council did not acknowledge the legitimacy of this step.[1][2] Fighting between Fatah and Hamas has left the former in control of the West Bank and the latter in control of the Gaza Strip resulting in separate de facto leaderships in the territories both with dubious constitutional legitimacy.[3][4] The situation was aggravated on 9 January 2009 when Abbas's term of office should have expired and Hamas appointed its own acting president in the form of Abdel Aziz Duwaik, who as the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council can take over the post for 60 days under certain circumstances.[5][6][7]

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President in the West Bank Mahmoud Abbas Fatah 15 January 2005
Prime Minister in the West Bank Rami Hamdallah Fatah 6 June 2013
Acting President in the Gaza Strip Abdel Aziz Duwaik Hamas 9 January 2009
Prime Minister in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh Hamas 29 March 2006

Legislative branch

The Palestinian Legislative Council (Majlis al-Tashri'i in Arabic) is the legislature of the Palestinian Authority. It is not to be confused with the Palestine National Council, which remains the national legislature of the Palestinian people as a whole. The PLC passed a new law in June 2005 increasing the number of MPs from 88 to 132, stipulating that half be elected under a system of proportional representation and half by traditional constituencies. Parliamentary elections took place on 25 January 2006. Initial exit polling indicated that Fatah won the most seats, though without a majority, but the results were different.

Judicial branch

According to the constitution, the Judiciary branch shall be independent, and shall be assumed by the different types and level of courts. The structure, jurisdiction, and rulings of the courts shall be in accordance with law. The rulings shall be announced and executed in the name of the Palestinian people. It also states that the judges shall be independent, and shall not be subject to any authority other than the authority of law while exercising their duties and that no other authority may interfere in the judiciary or in the justice affairs. The Basic Law calls for the establishment of a Supreme Judicial Council shall be created. ARTICLE 101 1. States: Sharia’ (Islamic law) affairs and personal status shall be assumed by Sharia’ and religious courts in accordance with law. 2. Military courts shall be established by special laws. Such courts shall not have any jurisdiction beyond military affairs. Concerning public prosecutions, the constitution states the following:

"ARTICLE 107 1. The Attorney General shall be appointed through a decision issued by the President of the National Authority, based on a recommendation submitted by the Supreme Judicial Council, and endorsement of the Legislative Council. 2. The Attorney General shall handle and assume public cases in the name of the Palestinian Arab People. The jurisdiction, functions and duties of the Attorney General shall be specified by law.

ARTICLE 108 1. The jurisdiction, functions, structure, and composition of the Public Prosecution shall be regulated by law. 2. The appointment, transfer, removal, and questioning conditions of members of Public Prosecution, shall be specified by law.

ARTICLE 109 Execution sentence issued by any court shall not be implemented unless endorsed by the President of the National Palestinian Executive Authority."

Administrative divisions

After the signing of the Oslo Accords, the West bank and the Gaza Strip were divided into areas (A, B, and C) and governorates. Area A refers to the area under PA security and civilian control. Area B refers to the area under Palestinian civilian and Israeli security control. Area C refers to the area under full Israeli control such as settlements.

International organization participation

UN (observer), OIC, AL, NAM, G-77 UNESCO

United Nations

The United Nations General Assembly recognized the PLO as the "representative of the Palestinian people" in Resolution 3210 and Resolution 3236, and granted the PLO observer status on 22 November 1974 in Resolution 3237. On 12 January 1976 the UN Security Council voted 11–1 with 3 abstentions to allow the Palestinian Liberation Organization to participate in a Security Council debate without voting rights, a privilege usually restricted to UN member states. It was admitted as a full member of the Asia group on 2 April 1986.[8][9][10]

After the Palestinian Declaration of Independence the PLO's representation was renamed Palestine.[11] On 7 July 1998, this status was extended to allow participation in General Assembly debates, though not in voting.[12]

By September 2012, with their application for full membership stalled due to the inability of Security Council members to 'make a unanimous recommendation', the Palestine Authority had decided to pursue an upgrade in status from "observer entity" to "non-member observer state". On 27 November it was announced that the appeal had been officially made, and would be put to a vote in the General Assembly on November 29, where their status upgrade was expected to be supported by a majority of states. In addition to granting Palestine "non-member observer state status", the draft resolution "expresses the hope that the Security Council will consider favourably the application submitted on 23 September 2011 by the State of Palestine for admission to full membership in the United Nations, endorses the two state solution based on the pre-1967 borders, and stresses the need for an immediate resumption of negotiations between the two parties."

On Thursday, 29 November, 2012, In a 138-9 vote (with 41 abstaining) General Assembly resolution 67/19 passed, upgrading Palestine to "non-member observer state" status in the United Nations.[13][14] The new status equates Palestine's with that of the Holy See.The change in status was described by The Independent as "de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine".[15]

The vote was a historic benchmark for the sovereign State of Palestine and its citizens, whilst it was a diplomatic setback for Israel and the United States. Status as an observer state in the UN will allow the State of Palestine to join treaties and specialised UN agencies, such as the International Civil Aviation Organisation,[16] the Law of the Seas Treaty and the International Criminal Court. It shall permit Palestine to claim legal rights over its territorial waters and air space as a sovereign state recognised by the UN. It shall also provide the citizens of Palestine with the right to sue for control of the territory that is rightfully theirs in the International Court of Justice and with the legal right to bring war-crimes charges, mainly those relating to the illegal occupation of the State of Palestine, against Israel in the International Criminal Court.[17]

The UN has permitted Palestine to title its representative office to the UN as 'The Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations',[18] and Palestine has started to re-title its name accordingly on postal stamps, official documents and passports,[14][19] whilst it has instructed its diplomats to officially represent 'The State of Palestine', as opposed to the 'Palestine National Authority'.[14] Additionally, on 17 December 2012, UN Chief of Protocol Yeocheol Yoon decided that "the designation of 'State of Palestine' shall be used by the Secretariat in all official United Nations documents",[20] thus recognising the PLO-proclaimed State of Palestine as being sovereign over the territories of Palestine and its citizens under international law.

External links

  • The Palestinian Basic Law - A collection of various proposals and amendments to the Basic Law of Palestine


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