Palestinian Authority

Interim administrative and political entity, established in 1994. The Palestinian Authority (PA) was established as an interim administrative body by the Gaza-Jericho Agreement that detailed the Declaration of Principles (DOP, or Oslo I Accord) signed between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel in September 1993. The DOP stipulated  that a “Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority” would last for no longer than five years, during which there would be final status negotiations between the parties leading to a permanent settlement based upon United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. The negotiations broke down and the five-year interim period has long expired, but the PA continues to exist, albeit with limited power.

The PA administers the affairs of the Palestinians residing in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem), looking after the interests of the Palestinians who live within the confines of areas A, B, and C, according to the limits permitted by Israel’s ongoing occupation. The PA also has a police force and several security branches and is mandated to coordinate its security with Israel.

The PA also refers to itself as the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and the State of Palestine (since 2013). But it has no jurisdiction over Jewish or Palestinian citizens of Israel, even if they are within areas under its control. As an administrative body, it also cannot address issues of national concern to the Palestinian people as a whole, such as refugees, the future political horizon, or Palestinian citizens of other countries—these issues are the responsibility of the PLO. The Israeli shekel is the official currency, and the PA does not control its own borders, airspace, immigration, or customs regime.

The occupied Gaza Strip also falls under PA administration. However, after Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections in 2006, the resulting political enmity and clashes culminated in Hamas taking over control of Gaza’s security and administrative offices in 2007, creating a deep fissure in Palestinian politics. The PA continues to pay some functionaries in the Gaza Strip.

The PA is headed by an elected president. However, Palestinian elections for president have not been held since January 2005. The work of the PLC has been frozen since the 2006 vote, after which many newly elected Hamas members were detained by Israel and internal political dissension took hold.