Palestinian Authority

This term refers to the entity established by agreements signed between Israel and the PLO. The PA was intended to represent the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip during an interim period until the conclusion of a permanent status agreement.

Definition

The term "Palestinian Authority" (PA) relates to the entity that was established under the framework of the Oslo Accords signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The PA is intended to represent the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during an interim period as a temporary arrangement leading to "Permanent Status".

Background

The framework of future negotiations with the Palestinians, which was part of the 1978 Camp David Accords signed between Israel and Egypt determined that in the territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip an "Palestinian Self-Governing Authority" be established for a period of five years. This authority will constitute a preliminary stage leading up to Permanent Status for those territories.

Under the self-governing authority, following the withdrawal of the Israeli military government and civilian administration, the Palestinians would enjoy full autonomy; No later than the third year of the independent government, discussions will begin on a permanent agreement among representatives of Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and elected Palestinian representatives from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

These principles were adopted in the Declaration of Principles (9/93) which outlined the Sequence of the Israeli-Palestinian Political Process, known as the Oslo Process. The Declaration of Principles established that the elected Palestinian Council will hold jurisdiction over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which will constitute a "Single Territorial Unit", and a Palestinian police force responsible for internal order and security will be established.

Accordingly, the Gaza-Jericho Agreement (5/94) was established the Palestinian Authority as the realization of the principle of a Palestinian Self-Governing Authority; it was determined that the Palestinian Authority would have legislative, executive, judicial and policing authorities, but that it would not have the power to carry out independent foreign relations; the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) would manage negotiations and sign agreements with countries or international organizations on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in specific cases only.

The specific date of signing the above agreement (4/5/94) was set as the beginning of the "Interim Period" (5/94-99) and thereafter jurisdiction over West Bank territory and Gaza would be transferred to the Palestinians. Following the signing of the agreement, the Chairman of Fatah and the PLO, Yasir Arafat, returned to Gaza (1/7/94) and four days afterwards he was sworn in also as the head of the Palestinian Authority (See: Chairman of the Palestinian Authority).

The Interim Agreement (9/95), which was intended to regulate the relations between the two sides during an interim period, established that elections will be held for the Palestinian Legislative Council and for the Ra'ees of the executive authority of the Council; they will be elected for a period of no more than five years from the date of the Gaza-Jericho Agreement (5/94).

Following the Interim Agreement, the Israeli military administration withdrew from major cities in the West Bank. The territories of the West Bank and Gaza were divided into three regions:

  • In "Area A", security and administrative jurisdiction was transferred to the Palestinian Authority (exclusive control over 17% of the West Bank);
  • In "Area B", security control remained with Israel and administrative jurisdiction was transferred to the PA;
  • In "Area C", security and administrative jurisdiction remained with Israel.

According to the Interim Agreement, elections were held for the Palestinian Council (1/96) in which Arafat was elected the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority. Negotiations on Permanent Status (5/96) were stopped following the Palestinian terror offensive (2-3/96) and elections in Israel (5/96).

In the absence of a Permanent Status Agreement, the Palestinian Authority continues to exist as an entity which is not a state (See: Status of Palestinian Statehood), that is without sovereignty over its borders, airspace, water, border checkpoints, fiscal and monetary regimes, and foreign and security policy.