Hisham's Palace, Jericho (photo by GZ) Mahmoud Darwish on Yasser Arafat- Ramallah (photo by GZ) Corridor from Erez crossing into Gaza (Photo by CdV) Old city of Hebron (photo by GZ) Mahmoud Darwish in the presence of absence (photo by GZ) Cremisan Road, Beit Jala (photo by GZ) Gilo settlement - Beit Jala (photo by GZ) Wall grafitti made by Berlin residents. (Photo by CdV) Drone flying over KhanYounis, Gaza. (Photo by CdV) Bypass road north-south - Jerusalem (photo by GZ) Anti-wall demonstration in Bi'lin. (Photo by LS)

Political map


The Palestinian political system

The Palestinian people have a dual political system, largely resembling the European system of governance.


Palestinian Liberation Organization

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was was founded in 1964. Since 1974 the UN and over a 100 states consider the PLO to be the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, including diaspora-Palestinians. The PLO is an umbrella organization composed of many individual groups. The Fatah party has always dominated, but many others with widely differing political philosophies are also members. Most of their members are refugees whose main demand for decades has been to return to their homes and lands in Palestine.


PLO members include: Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP); the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP); the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF); Al Saiqa Organization; the Arab Liberation Front (AlF); the Palestinian Democratic Union (Fida); and the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP). Some of these groups also have representatives in the legislative body of the Palestinan National Authority (PNA).


The main Palestinian Islamist groups are not members of the PLO.


Its parliament, the Palestinian National Council (PNC) exists in exile, its members are appointed by the leader of the PLO. The Palestinian Central Council (PCC) is a truncated version of the PNC that meets in the occupied Palestinian territories.


The PLO chairman is appointed by the Executive Comittee that consists of 18 members of the PNC. Upon Yasser Arafat’s death, Mahmoud Abbas was unanimously chosen to become the new Chairman.


The PLO is signatory to all agreements with Israel.


Palestinian National Authority

The Palestinian National Authority, PNA, was established in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip after Israel and the PLO signed the Oslo agreement in 1993. The Basic Law forms the foundation of Palestinian governance in the absence of a formal constitution.


The PNA combines the parliamentary and presidential systems of democracy. It is headed by the president, who is elected by the public through direct vote. Current president Mahmoud Abbas was elected in 2005. Three separate branches of government operate with checks and balances in place to prevent any one branch from becoming too powerful. These are the legislative branch, the executive authority, and the judiciary.


The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) is responsible for drafting laws and overseeing the performance of the cabinet. The PLC has no powers in terms of foreign relations.


The executive branch is the cabinet, the main governing authority of the PNA. It comprises the prime minister and a maximum of 24 ministers who are accountable to the president. They are nominated by the president, and subject to parliamentary approval before taking the oath of office.


Since 1994, a consolidated system of legislation has been in effect in both the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Judges are appointed by the president after nomination by the Higher Judicial Council. The attorney general is appointed by the president after nomination by the minister of justice.


The PNA has no foreign relations powers.


For further info check on http://www.pna.gov.ps/Government/image/plo_pna.jpg.


Local Government

Municipal and village councils have existed in Palestine since the British Mandate. In June 1967, the Israeli occupation authorities limited their powers and solidified their control over policies and budgets; the Arab Jerusalem Municipality Council was completely dissolved.


Since the arrival of the PNA, the municipal and village councils took over administrative responsibilities including water management, electricity, waste management, schools, planning and building control, road construction and maintenance.


Election System

Eligible voters are Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip residents including Jerusalemites, who are 18 years or older on polling day, registered in the voters' list of one of the 16 district electoral offices. Eligible candidates must be 30 (PLC) or 35 years (President) of age. Presidential candidates must submit a list of 5,000 eligible voters supporting them, PLC candidates a list of 500 eligible voters. Palestinians living overseas are not eligible to vote (in accordance with the Oslo Agreement).


In accordance with the 1996 Election Law, voting occurred in 16 districts according to the majority system (1 ballot) on 2 Jan. 1996. The PLC was dominated by Fatah with 49 out of the original 88 seats, followed by Fatah-affiliated Independents (15), Islamic-affiliated Independents (4), Independents (17), and others (3). Six seats were reserved for Christians. The Election Law was amended in 2005, providing for a mixed electoral system (majority and proportional systems) and increasing the PLC seats to 132, half of which were elected in the 16 electoral districts by a ballot of individual candidates (with six seats reserved for Christians), the other half by a ballot of closed lists of candidates put together by political parties or coalitions (and considering the new women quota). In 2007, President Abbas unveiled a series of changes to the electoral law: Palestinians will now vote solely for party lists, while district voting would be eliminated. All presidential and parliamentary candidates are furthermore required to recognize the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.


Next Elections

The next Presidential elections are currently a matter of public debate between Hamas and the President’s Office. According to the PNA’s Basic Law, president Abbas’ 4-year term in office finished in 2009.


Political parties and groups

Members of the PLC represent the following political factions:

  1. Al-Mustaqbal or The Future - Al-Mustaqbal is a coalition of independents, mainly composed of young Fatah members. The Future is headed by activist Marwan Barghouti who currently serves five life sentences in Israeli prison.
  2. Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) (left wing)
  3. Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) (left wing)
  4. Fatah or Palestinian Liberation Movement: The largest faction of the PLO. It is mainly nationalist and secular. (centre)
  5. Hamas or Islamic Resistance Movement : A religious and nationalist movement with its roots in the Muslim Brotherhood. (Islamist)
  6. Third Way: The Third Way is a coalition of independent council members . It was founded on 16 December 2005 and is led by Salam Fayyad and Hanan Ashrawi. (centrist)
  7. National Coalition for Justice and Democracy
  8. Palestine Democratic Union (centre-left)
  9. Palestine Forum
  10. Palestine Liberation Front
  11. Palestinian Arab Front
  12. Palestinian Justice
  13. Palestinian National Initiative (centrist)
  14. Palestinian People's Party (left-wing)
  15. Palestinian Popular Struggle Front (left-wing)