Competitive Exams: Current Affairs 2011: Independent states

Independent states

Palestine will become the 194th member of the UN if its application for statehood goes ahead and succeeds. But what will be the territory of Palestine? Palestine is likely to consist of territory in the West Bank and Gaza, totalling around 6, 200 sq km. At the moment the two areas are physically separate, although they could be linked by a sealed road in future. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their new state.

The Palestinian population is around 2.6 million in the West Bank, 1.6 million in Gaza and 270, 000 in East Jerusalem.

Palestinians are overwhelmingly Muslim although there is a small Christian population.

There are also around 300, 000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank and a further 200, 000 in East Jerusalem. Israel evacuated settlers from Gaza in 2005.

Arabic is the language of Palestine.

There are two separate de facto governments in the West Bank and Gaza, under a president elected by all the Palestinian people. There is also an elected legislative council.

In the West Bank, the authority, dominated by the Fatah political faction, is the official administrative body. Established in 1994 under the Oslo accords, its jurisdiction runs only in the main cities of the West Bank.

Hamas is in charge of the Gaza Strip after fighting a bloody battle for control against Fatah in 2007, after winning elections 18 months before:

The Palestinian president is Mahmoud Abbas, and the prime minister in the West Bank is Salam Fayyad. In Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh is the de facto prime minister.

Earlier this year, following a reconciliation agreement with Hamas, which has since faltered, Mr. Abbas promised elections next year.

There is a legislative council and local authorities, and ministries of finance, health, education, transport, agriculture, interior, justice, labour, culture, social affairs etc.

The West Bank and Gaza have separate security forces and judicial systems.

In April, the International Monetary Fund said the authority was now able to conduct the sound economic policies expected of a future well functioning Palestinian state, given its solid track record in reforms and institution building in the public finance and financial areas. Gaza's funding is opaque. According to Israeli and western intelligence, money is channelled from Iran and Islamist supporters in the Arab world.

Will state recognition change the situation on the ground?

Almost everything will be the same. The lives of Palestinians will continue to be dominated by the Israeli occupation and control over their territory. But it may strengthen their position in future talks.

Courtesy: The Hindu and Times of India