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The State of Palestine ( , dawlat filastin), officially simply Palestine ( , filastin), is a political entity that enjoys limited recognition as a state in Palestine. A Palestinian Declaration of Independence was made by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on November 15 1988 in a meeting of the Palestine National Council (PNC) in Algiersmarker. The declaration designated Jerusalemmarker as the capital of the state.

About 100 countries have recognized the State of Palestine, which is represented as a non-member observer entity at the United Nations by the PLO under the name 'Palestine'. The Palestinian National Authority (PNA or PA) is an interim administrative body that exercises some governmental functions in parts of the West Bankmarker and the Gaza Stripmarker. Created by the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the PLO, the PA is not a synonym for the government of Palestine, though it is associated with it. The current President of Palestine is Mahmoud Abbas, serving in his capacity as Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization.


As a geographic area, the definition of Palestine has varied throughout history, but currently covers what is the modern state of Israelmarker, the West Bankmarker up to the Jordan Rivermarker and the section of the Sinaimarker, known as the Gaza Stripmarker. Ruled by the Ottoman Empire (1518-1917), this area became part of Mandate Palestine after the end of World War I. While Palestine's partition into an Arab state and Jewish state were proposed as part of the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, the Arabs refused the partition plan, and only the Jewish state materialized, adopting the name Israel as it was known at the time of the Kings of Israel. Accordingly, Palestine is a country that does not appear on contemporary political maps, but which is very much alive for its people. Many of its people are refugees who comprise a significant segment of the Palestinian diaspora, accounting for why some Palestinians describe Palestine as, "a country in exile." The Palestinian people's struggle for recognition of their, "political rights, including statehood, has made this country-without-a-country, a continuing flashpoint for tensions in the Middle East since the late 1920s."

1988 Declaration

The Palestinian Declaration of Independence was approved by the Palestinian National Council (PNC) in Algiersmarker on November 15, 1988, by a vote of 253 in favour 46 against and 10 abstentions. It was read by Yasser Arafat at the closing session of the 19th PNC to a standing ovation. Upon completing the reading of the declaration, Arafat, as Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization assumed the title of "President of Palestine."

Referring to "the historical injustice inflicted on the Palestinian Arab people resulting in their dispersion and depriving them of their right to self-determination," the declaration recalled the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) and UN General Assembly Resolution 181 as supporting the rights of Palestinians and Palestine. The declaration then proclaims a "State of Palestine on our Palestinian territory with its capital Jerusalemmarker". The borders of the declared State of Palestine were not specified. By calling for multilateral negotiations on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 242, which calls for Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967marker, the PNC seemed to be suggesting that it would accept a state in the West Bankmarker and Gaza Stripmarker and that it no longer questioned Israelmarker as a state. The PNC's political communiqué accompanying the declaration called only for withdrawal from "Arab Jerusalem" and the other "Arab territories occupied." Yasser Arafat's statements in Geneva a month later were accepted by the United States as sufficient to remove the ambiguities it saw in the declaration and to fulfill the longheld conditions for open dialogue with the United Statesmarker.

As a result of the declaration, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) convened, inviting Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the PLO to give an address. An UNGA resolution was adopted "acknowledging the proclamation of the State of Palestine by the Palestine National Council on 15 November 1988," and it was further decided that "the designation 'Palestine' should be used in place of the designation 'Palestine Liberation Organization' in the United Nations system." One hundred and four states voted for this resolution, forty-four abstained, and two - the United Statesmarker and Israelmarker - voted against. By mid-December, 75 states had recognized Palestine, rising to 89 states by February 1989.

The view of the European states, which did not extend full recognition was expressed by French President Francois Mitterrand who stated: "Many European countries are not ready to recognize a Palestine state. Others think that between recognition and non-recognition there are significant degrees; I am among these."But, after the PLO recognized the state of Israel, Mitterrand welcomed the PLO leader, Yasir Arafat, in Paris, in May 1989.

Government structure

By the 1988 declaration, the PNC empowered its central council to form a government-in-exile when appropriate, and called upon its executive committee to perform the duties of the government-in-exile until its establishment.

Under the terms of the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the PLO, the latter assumed control over the Jerichomarker area of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on 17 May 1994. On September 28, 1995, following the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israeli military forces withdrew from the West Bank towns of Nablusmarker, Ramallahmarker, ,Jerichomarker, Jeninmarker, Tulkaremmarker, Qalqilyamarker and Bethlehemmarker. In December 1995, the PLO also assumed responsibility for civil administration in 17 areas in Hebronmarker. While the PLO assumed these responsibilities as a result of Oslo, a new temporary interim administrative body was set up as a result of the Accords to carry out these functions on the ground: the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).

An analysis outlining the relationship between the PLO, the PNA (or PA), Palestine and Israel in light of the interim arrangements set out in the Oslo Accords begins by stating that, "Palestine may best be described as a transitional association between the PA and the PLO." It goes on to explain that this transitional association accords the PA responsibility for local government and the PLO responsibility for representation of the Palestinian people in the international arena, while prohibiting it from concluding international agreements that affect the status of the occupied territoriesmarker. This situation is said to be accepted by the Palestinian population insofar as it is viewed as a temporary arrangement.

Legal status

There are a wide variety of views regarding the status of the State of Palestine, both among the states of the international community and among legal scholars and there is no consensus as to its legal status.

Alex Takkenberg writes that while "[...] there is no doubt that the entity 'Palestine' should be considered a state in statu nascendi and although it is increasingly likely that the ongoing peace process will eventually culminate in the establishment of a Palestinian state, it is premature to conclude that statehood, as defined by international law, is at present (spring 1997) firmly established." Referring to the four criteria of statehood, as outlined in the 1933 Montevideo Convention - that is, a permanent population, a defined territory, government and the capacity to enter into relations with other states - Takkenberg states that the entity known as Palestine does not fully satisfy this criteria.

Conversely, John V. Whitbeck writes that "[...] the State of Palestine already exists," and that when, "Judged by these customary criteria [those of the Montevideo Convention], the State of Palestine is on at least as firm a legal footing as the State of Israel." He continues: "The weak link in Palestine's claim to already exist as a state was, until recently, the fourth criterion, "effective control. [...] Yet a Palestinian executive and legislature, democratically elected with the enthusiastic approval of the international community, now exercises 'effective control' over a portion of Palestinian territory in which the great majority of the state's population lives. It can no longer be seriously argued that Palestine's claim to exist falls at the fourth and final hurdle."

For John Quigley, Palestine's existence as a state predates the 1988 declaration. Tracing Palestine's status as an international entity back to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, he recalls that the Palestine Mandate (1918-1948), an arrangement made under Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, held as its "ultimate objective", the "self-determination and independence of the people concerned." He suggests that in explicitly referring to the Covenant, the 1988 declaration was reaffirming an existing Palestinian statehood. Noting that Palestine under the Mandate entered into bilateral treaties, including one with Great Britainmarker, the Mandatory power, he cites this as an example of its "sovereignty" at that time.

In November 2009, Palestinian officials were reported to be preparing the ground for asking for recognition of a Palestinian State from the Security Council. The state was envisioned to be based on the 1967 Green Linemarker as an international border with Israel and East Jerusalem as its capital. The plan was reported to have support from Arab states, Russia and the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.

States that recognize Palestine


More than 100 states recognize the State of Palestine, and 17 more grant some form of diplomatic status to a Palestinian delegation, falling short of full diplomatic recognition.

The following are listed in alphabetical order by region.





Middle East


Countries granting diplomatic status to non-State representatives

States that do not recognize the State of Palestine but allow the PLO to maintain a regional office in their countries are:

The delegations and embassies listed below on the left, are recognized as the representatives of the Palestinian people by the nations listed to their right:
  • General Delegation of Palestine: Irelandmarker
  • Palestinian Special Delegation: Mexicomarker

Representation in international organizations

United Nations representation

Palestine is an entity with special status at the UN. The Palestine National Council (PNC) sent formal notification to the U.N. Secretary-General regarding the establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in May 1964. The following year in October, some Arab states requested that a PLO delegation be allowed to attend meetings of the Special Political Committee, and it was decided that they could present a statement, without implying recognition. PLO participation in the discussions of the Committee took place under the agenda item of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) from 1963 to 1973.

The PLO gained observer status at the United Nations General Assembly in 1974 (General Assembly resolution 3237). Acknowledging the proclamation of the State of Palestine, the UN redesignated this observer status to 'Palestine' on 15 December 1988 in General Assembly resolution 43/177 and affirmed "the need to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their sovereignty over their territory occupied since 1967." In July 1998, the General Assembly adopted a new resolution (52/250) conferring upon Palestine additional rights and privileges, including the right to participate in the general debate held at the start of each session of the General Assembly, the right of reply, the right to co-sponsor resolutions and the right to raise points of order on Palestinianmarker and Middle East issues. By this resolution, "seating for Palestine shall be arranged immediately after non-member States and before the other observers." This resolution was adopted by a vote of 124 in favor, 4 against (Israel, USA, Marshall Islands, Micronesiamarker) and 10 abstentions.

Organisation of the Islamic Conference

Palestine is a member of the international Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Islamic Development Bank, an international financial institution set up for member states.

Application to the WHO

The PLO, who holds observer status at the World Health Organization (WHO), applied for full membership status for the State of Palestine in 1989. The United Statesmarker, which provided one-quarter of the WHO's funding at the time, informed the WHO that its funding would be withheld if Palestine was admitted as a member state. Yasser Arafat described the US statement as "blackmail". The PLO was asked to withdraw its application by the WHO director general. The WHO subsequently voted to postpone consideration of the application and no action or decision on the application was ever taken. John Quigley writes that Palestine's efforts to gain membership in several international organizations connected to the United Nations was frustrated by US threats to withhold funding from any organization that admitted Palestine.

Arab League

Palestine is a member of the Arab League. Represented there since 1964 by the Palestine Liberation Organization, after the 1988 declaration of statehood, its status was upgraded to full membership under the name 'Palestine' with the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization serving as 'president of Palestine'.

Other memberships

Palestine is a member state in a number of international organizations. In others, it enjoys affiliation in a lesser capacity or under another designation (such as PLO or Occupied Palestinian Territory). In the list below, if the membership is not full or not for the state of Palestine, the type and name of affiliation is denoted in parentheses.

See also



External links

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