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Palestinian territories profile

Commentary // Aug 31 2011


The Palestinian population of 10-11 million people is divided between historic Palestine and a diaspora mainly in neighbouring Arab countries.

Efforts to create a Palestinian state on the West Bank of the River Jordan and Gaza on the Mediterranean coast are frustrated by the continuing conflict with Israel and disputes over the status of diaspora Palestinians.

The war that followed Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948 left the former British mandate of Palestine partitioned between Israel, Trans-Jordan and Egypt. The Palestinian national movement gradually regrouped in the West Bank and Gaza, run respectively by Jordan and Egypt, and in refugee camps in neighbouring Arab states.

The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) emerged as the leading umbrella group shortly before the Six-Day War of 1967, during which Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.

The PLO under Yasser Arafat gradually won international recognition as the representative of the Palestinian people, culminating in the Oslo Accords with Israel in 1993. These accords established a Palestinian National Authority as an interim body to run parts of the West Bank and Gaza (but not eastern Jerusalem) pending an agreed solution to the conflict.

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