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Politics of the Palestinian National Authority

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.

Political developments since 1993

Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed the Gaza–Jericho Agreement, which established the Palestinian National Authority, a governing body for the interim period pending final status negotiations.

Executive branch

The President of the State of Palestine is the highest-ranking political position, the 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 and not directly elected by the Palestinian Legislative Council (parliament) or Palestinian voters. Unlike prime ministers in many other countries, 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 Legislative Council.

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 Legislative Council, which was controlled by Hamas, 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 Mohammad Shtayyeh Fatah 10 March 2019
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 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.

The first legislative elections under the new rules took place on 25 January 2006, which was won by Hamas. Legislative elections have not been held since.

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 1988 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) UN 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; 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] Palestine has started to retitle its name accordingly on postal stamps, official documents and passports;[14][19] moreover, it has instructed its diplomats to officially represent "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.


  1. ^ "Abbas Dissolves Palestinian Authority Government in Wake of Hamas-Fatah War". Fox News. 2007-06-14. Archived from the original on 2007-06-16. Retrieved 2008-07-14.
  2. ^ Levinson, Charles; Matthew Moore (2007-06-14). "Abbas declares state of emergency in Gaza". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2007-06-14.
  3. ^ Nathan Brown (2007-06-15). "What Can Abu Mazin Do?". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved 2007-06-19.
  4. ^ "No Alternative to Political Dialogue: PCHR's Position towards the Current Crisis in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian National Authority". Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. 2007-06-18. Archived from the original on 2007-06-27. Retrieved 2007-06-19.
  5. ^ The Palestinian Basic Law
  6. ^ Khaled Abu Toameh "Abbas no longer heads PA" The Jerusalem Post, Jan 9, 2009[dead link]
  7. ^ Khaled Abu Toameh "'Dweik is real Palestinian president'" The Jerusalem Post, Jun 25, 2009[dead link]
  8. ^ Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations. "Status of Palestine at the United Nations". United Nations. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 9 December 2010.: "On 2 April 1986, the Asian Group of the U.N. decided to accept the PLO as a full member."
  9. ^ United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2002). "Government structures". United Nations. Archived from the original on 13 June 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2010.: "At present, the PLO is a full member of the Asian Group of the United Nations".
  10. ^ United Nations General Assembly Resolution 52/250: Participation of Palestine in the work of the United Nations Archived May 22, 2011, at the Wayback Machine (1998): "Palestine enjoys full membership in the Group of Asian States".
  11. ^ UN General Assembly (9 December 1988). "United Nations General Assembly Resolution 43/177". UN Information System on the Question of Palestine. Archived from the original on 1 November 2011. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
  12. ^ The law and practice of the United Nations by Benedetto Conforti
  13. ^ "A/67/L.28 of 26 November 2012 and A/RES/67/19 of 29 November 2012". Archived from the original on 2012-12-10. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
  14. ^ a b c [1]
  15. ^ "Israel defies UN after vote on Palestine with plans for 3,000 new homes in the West Bank". The Independent. 1 December 2012.
  16. ^ Abbas has not taken practical steps toward seeking membership for Palestine in UN agencies, something made possible by the November vote Archived 2014-10-11 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Palestinians' UN upgrade to nonmember observer state: Struggles ahead over possible powers". Washington Post. 30 November 2012.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-31. Retrieved 2015-01-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ [2]
  20. ^ Gharib, Ali (2012-12-20). "U.N. Adds New Name: "State of Palestine"". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2013-01-10.

External links