Anthropology Unit
ANTH 210-Arab Society
Research Paper
Tears on the face
Presented to:
Dr. Sami Omar
Presented by:
Moataz Mohammad Attallah
Fall 1998


1 Physical Map
2 Physical Description and Geography
3 History
4 Economy
5 Current situation
5-A Islamic Militancy
5-B Water Status
5-C Gender
6 Communications and Transportation



1 Palestine Political Profile
2 Geographical Vital Statistics
3 Demographic Data
4 Economic Data




     Palestine is considered a special complicated case in the Arab World. Not only because it has been the setting of major events in the Arab history, but also it has been shaping the Arab history for centuries. Starting from its BC history until the colonialism to the current state, Palestine was always in continuous non-stopping change. These changes violently impacted and mutated its people, borders, culture, economy, ethnicity, demography and definitely its history.
     In this analysis, we will go through the Palestinian history, current setting of Palestine and the major concerns about the future of such a country, whose citizen can not be sure what is going to happen an hour from now.


    Old Palestine (pre-partition Palestine or pre-1947) was situated on the Eastern Coast of the Mediterranean sea. This place was like a junction between three continents; Asia to the East, Africa to the South West, and Europe to the North. Thus it was like a triple point where the three religions, cultures and ethnic origins have fused in the crucible of Palestine since the dawn of civilization. However, when discussing the geography of Palestine, we will consider Palestine which came out of the unjust UN partition plan. This is because these lands are the lands on which the PNA and the Government of Israel are negotiating on these days.

The UN partition plan (resolution 181-1947) divided Palestine into Jewish and Palestinian parts; the share of the Palestinians was the West Bank of Jordan River and Gaza strip. Palestine now by  definition means the West Bank, the Gaza strip and Eastern Jerusalem (within West Bank). Palestine’s main river is Jordan river, that flows from North to South, passing through Tiberias, ending with the incredibly salty Dead sea.

 Gaza Strip
Gaza strip is narrow strip located between Egypt and Israel extending from the Northern Sinai Peninsula into Israel's Mediterranean coastal plain. The territory is largely flat and sandy, with dunes extending inland from the coast, especially in the south. Rainfall decreases from North to South, with an average annual accumulation of about 150 to 400 mm. The Gaza Strip contains little fertile soil, and only 24% of its land is arable or used in agriculture. There are a number of sandy beaches and fishing villages along the region's coastline. (Encyclopedia Encarta97)

The West Bank
The term West Bank refers to the zone to the west of Jordan river between Jordan and Israel. The West Bank contains many religious cities, such as: Hebron (Al-Khalil) and Nablus.
Human agricultural activity is limited in West Bank due to the insufficient rain fall and the very poor soil. Agriculture and human settlement are concentrated along a hilly spine that runs from north to south and on the western slopes leading to the Mediterranean coastal plain. Vegetables and other field crops are grown in the northern valleys, notably olives which are cultivated in the hill areas.
The hill areas of the West Bank have a moderate Mediterranean climate, with cool, wet winters and mild summers. Rainfall occurs mostly at high elevations in the northwest, and is of critical importance for Palestinians and Israelis as it increases groundwater supplies in Israel and the West Bank. Rain levels decrease from north to south and from west to east, and the eastern third of the territory is dry and droughty, with warm winters and hot summers. Settlement and economic activity are sparse in this area, and with the exception of the oases and spring-fed farms in the Jordan Valley, the eastern West Bank is used primarily for herd pasturing. The Jordan River links Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee) and the Dead Sea, but provides little water for irrigation. The region's mineral resources consist mainly of salt and potash found in the Dead Sea (Encyclopedia Encarta 97)

In conclusion, Palestine is a very poor geographic zone; either in its geography or natural resources. The region is not one that allows the existence of an agricultural society, nor it is one that encourages the development of an industrial society, based on the zone natural resources. The problem is poor in non-renewable energy resources (oil and natural gas) and minerals. Even rainfall is not adequate. That is why even if Palestinians were able to restore most of the occupied lands, they would face an extreme difficulty in taming these wild conditions and to develop best ways to go without any resources.


Palestine is the ancient name for a Middle East Country. That is why it is more justifiable to refer to Palestine as a historic region, than to refer to it as an existing stable entity, with known and definite borders. The problem with Palestine is that its lands have been subjected for occupation for several times. Until today, the exact borders are now in a subject of negotiation and dispute between the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), represented by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), and the Zionist entity of Israel. When discussing Palestine now in 1998, we should return back to the last two decades in the 19th century as a good start. However, an excellent start will be from the BC history.
The Canaanites were the first inhabitant of Palestine (circa 3000 BC). They developed a civilization that introduced the first known alphabet. That land was adjacent to the major powers of that time, Egypt and Iraq. Thus, they were the target of Egyptian attacks on them. When the power of the Egyptians started to weaken, a new power appeared that was the Hebrews. The Hebrews (Evri) were a group of Semitic tribes from Mesopotamia that crossed the Euphrates with Abraham. In addition, there was another group, the Philistines, after which the country was later called. One century BC, the zone was divided among the Philistines and the Israelites, which was a confederation of the Hebrew tribes that defeated the Canaanites.

Life went on with that zone, throughout major phases in its history; starting with the Israeli kingdom, followed by the Persian rule after the fall of the kingdom of Israel. Then Palestine became a Roman province. At that time, Jesus was born in Jerusalem. Christianity started spreading until it dominated the region. Then Palestine was restored from the Romans to its own owners, the Arabs. The Arab forces recovered Palestine and Jerusalem was recovered during the time of the rightly guided caliph Omar Ibn Al-Khattab. The Christians and Jews were offered full rights, either for worshipping or security. Such a tolerance was rare in the history of religion. The importance of Palestine for the Arabs was first a religious one because it was the first qibla  and second because Muhammad PBUH had ascended from the Dome of the Rock to Heaven.

This introduction with the BC history is necessary because now we will ask an important question now: whose right to live in Palestine? Is it that immigrant who came from Poland or Russia, or that Arab who has been the original inhabitant for that zone since the time of the Canaanites? The answer of this question should be deduced by the reader after reading the coming section of the Palestinian history, starting from 1800 AD, which was the time that marked the start of the Palestinian problem.

The rise of the nationalism in Europe in the 1880s, in addition to intensification of the claimed so-called anti-Semitism, pushed thousands of European Jews to immigrate to the Palestine to seek their own "promised land."

In 1897, the Jewish Hungarian Journalist Theodore Herzyl, the author of the Jewish state, established the World Zionist Organization (WZO) and he called in its first conference in Basel, Switzerland for the establishment of a national religious based country for the Jews in Palestine to solve Europe’s "Jewish problem." As a direct consequence, the Jewish immigration to Palestine greatly increased. These immigrants purchased lands and brought with them machinery and money that Palestine was in severe need for both of them. By 1880, the Jewish immigrants represented 5% of the 450,000 total population of Palestine. This increase alarmed the Palestinian leaders, and warned them for a potential threat. Afterwards, they discovered that they were not mistaken; not mistaken at all! Until the start of the 20th century, Herzyl tried to persuade the Ottomans to establish a national entity for the Jews in Palestine, however he failed because the Ottoman Sultan did  not agree.

Later on, in 1917-8, Palestine was captured by the British from the Ottomans because the Arabs themselves supported the British. The British promised the Imam of Mecca to help him for the independence of Palestine after WW-I. However, Britain made two conflicting agreements with the its allies, which are Sykes-Picot agreement with Russia and France, which promised to divide the region with the allies. In addition to that, the British foreign minister Arthur James Balfour promised, in what is known as Balfour’s Declaration, the Jews that Britain would do its best to secure the establishment of a "national home for Jews in Palestine." This promise was incorporated by the League of Nations in 1922.

At the end of 1918 (WW-I), there were 700,000 people living in Palestine. These were divided into 574,000 Muslims, 70,000 Christians and 56,000 Jews. Almost all the Palestinian Christians are Arabs and most of the Jews as well (up to around 1900 AD). These numbers check positively with the estimate that only 6% to 7% of the total Palestinian population was Jewish right after the first Zionist congress in Basel. It is also consistent with what David Newman's statement that: between 1800 and 1945  the Jewish Population of Palestine increased from approximately 25,000 to 600,000, eventually comprising some 33 per cent of the country's population.
The number of Jews started to increase, under the help of the WZO, especially during WW II to escape the Nazis. In addition, clashes started to happen between the Palestinians, and the semi-autonomous Jewish government, and its military, the Haganah. Although the Palestinians outnumbered the Jews (1,300,000 to 600,000), they Palestinians suffered a lot until 1947.
In 1947, the UN proposed the partition plan (resolution 181). The Mufti of Jerusalem, the Principal spokesman of the Palestinians rejected the plan, while the Zionists accepted it. In the military fight, the Palestinians were defeated. Most of the military fight was barbaric outrageous attacks against the Palestinian civilians by the Haganah, the most famous of was Deir Yassin massacre (9th of April 1948).

Events went fast, so in the 14th of May 1948 the State of Israel was established. Five Arab armies came to aid the Palestinians, however they were defeated. Israel took the chance to spread its authority over more Palestinian lands. Egypt took control of Gaza strip and Jordan controlled West Bank.

One of the major consequences of that war was the 780,000 Palestinian refugees, who were feared to death, and they were forced to leave their homeland for the occupants. Some of the Palestinians fled to the neighboring countries, such as: Jordan and Egypt, where they maintained their cultural identity, with an intent to return one day to their raped homeland.

In 1964, in Jerusalem, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was established as an umbrella organization for the feda’yeen (commandos) organizations, such as: Fat’h, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The PLO was able to achieve some victories, by conducting some attacks against the Israelis.

The status remained frozen until the 1967-six day war between the Arabs and Israel, in which Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza strip, as well as  parts from Egypt, Jordan and Syria. During this period, the operations of the feda’yeen increased and they constituted a continuous threat for the Israelis.

After the Egyptian victory in Yom Kippur War (6th of October, 1973), the Egyptians asked the Palestinians and other Arab countries to seek peace with Israel. However, all the Arab states considered this a treason, especially because until that time the Arab states refused to recognize Israel as an independent country, which was what Egypt did by signing the peace treaty (1979).
Through the 80s, the PLO remained fighting against the Israelis. Until in 1987 when the Intifada (uprising) broke out in Gaza strip and the occupied Arab territories. PLO and Hamas were the leaders of this stone riots against the Israeli troops. With political changes in Israel along with the return of Egypt to the Arab world, a light ray came to dissipate darkness. The concept of peace between the Arabs and Israelis was refreshed again. Palestine has gone through major footsteps in order to achieve its self-autonomy over the small pieces it was able to recover from Israel after difficult negotiations.

The first step was in Fall 1991 in Madrid Peace Conference, where the Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese and Israelis agreed on the land for peace concept. The conference was attended by the two super powers at that time USA and the USSR. The next step was the Israeli elections, coming with Yitzhak Rabin into power in Israel. Israel and the PLO surprisingly signed a peace agreement in the White House in September 1993, giving the Palestinians self-rule over Gaza strip and Jericho city in the West Bank.

Then in 1995, the two past enemies signed another peace agreement, increasing the Palestinian control over  more areas in the West Bank. This agreement provided for the Palestinian authority’s first elections for the President and the Palestinian Legislative Council. Yasser Arafat was elected as the President of the PNA in January 1996.
However, by the assassination of Rabin in 1995 and the leave of Shimon Peres, things started becoming complicated by the arrival of Natenyahu to power in Israel  in June 1996. Past agreements were not fulfilled by the Israelis until today.

According to the (October-November 98) Wye-River agreement, Israel will withdraw from around 40% of the West Bank. This area will be under the full or partial solidarity of the Palestinian National Authority. There are 24 Israeli settlements in Gaza strip, 203 settlements in West Bank, and 26 in East Jerusalem.


As a country, Palestine is very poor in its natural resources and mineral wealth. Even if there had been any natural resources, they would have been extensively used by the Israeli occupation.
The Palestinian economy has been restricted by the tight Israeli security restrictions. These policies hindered and discouraged high tech industries and foreign or even local capital. Investment takes the shape of construction and residential housing, which is not productive to help the Palestinians cope with the competition with the Israeli economy. Not only this, in addition the main services supplied to the Palestinians is supplied by the Israeli companies. For example, most electricity in the PNA is exported from the Israel Electricity Company. Some Palestinian municipalities produce their own electricity from small power plants, in Jenin and Nablus.

Most of the Palestinian GDP depends on the remittances of the Palestinians working in the Israeli territories. Until in 1987, when the Palestinian uprising (Intifada) broke out in the occupied territories, access to the Israeli territories became closed in front of the Palestinians. Thus, in need for income, the Palestinians had to return back to agriculture. Agriculture is based mainly on citrus and olive. Most of these products are produced for the local consumption.

Lately, the Palestinian GDP was seriously traumatized twice. The first time was during the 1991 Gulf war, when lots of Palestinians working in Kuwait and other gulf countries had to return back to West bank and Gaza strip, increasing unemployment and stopping their remittances. Even market trade was affected by the overall paralysis in the zone trade. Moreover, the gulf countries support to the Palestinians stopped when Yasser Arafat publicly supported Iraq. The second time was lately during the attacks made by Hamas inside Israel. Because of these attacks, the Israeli forces had to block roads leading into the Israeli territories as a precautionary reaction. Taking into consideration that there are more than 40,000 Palestinians working in the Israeli controlled lands, these people were not able to go to their works.

Currently, Palestine depends mainly on foreign aid from the US, the EU and the Arab states in order to build its infra structure and to remove the destruction of more than 50 years of occupation. A few days ago, a conference was held in Washington for PNA supporting countries. There is a major concern among the Palestinians that these foreign aids are not directed to the Palestinians, however they are being misused by the PNA due to corruption. On the other side, the PNA admits that these aids are not utilized by the PNA, but this is because of the Israeli illegitimate policies. (Encarta 97)


Terrorism Research Center includes a list of militant groups around the world. The problem is that there is a difficulty in recognizing which are the groups working under an Islamic belief, and which are not. The list of Palestinian groups include: Abu Nidal Organization (ANO), Fateh, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Fateh Revolutionary Council, HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement), Hizballah (Party of God), Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
    We will go through  only three groups because nobody can disagree with their categorizing as Islamic militancy. These groups are:


An acronym for Harakat Al-Muqawama Al-Islamiyya (Islamic Resistance Movement). Hamas was born in late 1987 in Gaza strip. That exactly was the time when the stones' uprising (Intifada) started in the villages of Gaza strip. Hamas was one of the three main participants in the Intifada, which were: Hamas, the Islamic Jihad movement, and the PLO.

Hamas defines itself as one of the sections of the International Muslim Brotherhood movement, that was established in Egypt early this century. According to the charter of Hamas,: "Hamas is one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Palestine……MB is characterized by a profound understanding, by precise notions and by a complete comprehensiveness of all concepts of Islam in all domains of life."
 In 1987 after the ignition of the Intifada, seven members of the Palestinian branch of MB met in Gaza, under the leadership of Shaykh Ahmed Yassin, and they established the movement. Shaykh Yassin was a crippled cleric and he was elected as the head of MB in Palestine. Yassin, who was only 13 at the time of 1984 war, was arrested in 1983 by the Israeli forces, and he was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment, however he was released after two years. He traveled on his wheel chair to Gaza and West Bank to recruit more members in Hamas (he is now totally paralyzed because of the Israeli torture to him in the prison). Shaykh Yassin was arrested later, and he finally was released in 1997 after an agreement between King Hussein of Jordan and The Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, after the attempt on the life of Khalid Mish’aal, the head of the political office of Hamas.

Hamas is a nightmare for the Israelis. Several times they accomplished successful attacks inside Israel and in the occupied territories as well. The access of Hamas to these zones represents a big question mark for the Israelis. The Israelis think it is absolutely impossible for a fly to enter Tel Aviv and explode a bomb. However, Hamas was able to accomplish tens of these operations. That is why Israel tried several times to revenge from Hamas, either by assassinating their Engineer (Al-Mohandes) Yahia Ayyash, the individual who plans for their operations or by following their leaders and putting them in jail. Hamas does not aim only in fighting the Israeli occupant forces and liberating the Palestinians lands from this occupation, but also they aim at the establishment of an Islamic state, where Islam governs "all the domains of life: views and beliefs, politics and economics, education and society, jurisprudence and rule."

Hamas opposed drugs and alcohol in the Palestinian lands. They also help the poor, orphans and the needy people. They are even more trustworthy than all the Palestinian organizations to the extent that the international organizations and the officials of the United Nations Relief Workers Agency (UNRWC) acknowledged that Hamas was the only trustworthy group that helped them in distributing food rations on the refugees and the poor. Moreover, they established many charity clinics and mosques. In some villages, they are more respectable than the PNA. They also collect the Islam Zakah (poor due). Hamas gives an excellent example of the true Islamic nation; where women play an important role in their activities. According to their charter, "The Muslim women have a no lesser role than that of men in war of liberation; they play a great role in educating the new generation." Besides, the leaders of Hamas includes: engineers, doctors, university professors, in addition to the religious leaders.

Hamas opposes the PLO and the PNA because it fights against corruption, bribery and preferential treatment that had been endemic among these organizations. This started around 1991, when the PLO declined from the war of liberation and decided to participate in peace negotiations with the Israelis. In addition, the PLO felt that the popularity of Hamas may replace them. Thus, they refused to give them a significant representation in the Palestinian National Council (PNC). Unfortunately, this led to a dispute between the two groups.

Since the start of peace talks, Hamas has been fighting the Israelis with lots of attacks and suicide bombings in different parts in Israel. Their military wing, known as Ezz El-Dein Al-Kassam forces, has been very active. They receive financial support from Iran and other Islamic or Arab countries.

Some people criticize Hamas because of their position from killing the Israeli civilians and bombing the settlers. However, Hamas justifies this fact by the following; since the Israeli troops themselves follow the same policy with the Palestinians, therefore there is no  problem in using the same weapon against the Israelis. This is true to a great extent because since the start of the Israeli occupation, the Israeli troops have been spreading terror, killing, and blood shed among the Palestinians.


The name causes some confusion because Hizb-Allah (party of God) sometimes operates under the same  name. The PIJ originated among militant Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during the 1970s. It is a series of loosely affiliated factions rather than a cohesive group. The PIJ is committed to the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel through holy war. Sometimes it is Because of its unconcealed support for Israel, the United States has been identified as an enemy of the PIJ.

PIJ militants have threatened to revenge against Israel and the United States for the murder of PIJ leader Fat'hi Shaqaqi in Malta in October 1995. It has carried out suicide bombing attacks against Israeli targets in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel. The PIJ has threatened to attack US interests in Jordan. PIJ operates primarily Israel and the occupied territories and other parts of the Middle East, including Jordan and Lebanon. The largest faction is based in Syria.
According to the Terrorism Research Center, PIJ receives financial assistance from Iran and limited assistance from Syria.


Hizb Allah is the name of a Shiite group formed in Lebanon; dedicated to creation of Iranian-style Islamic republic in Lebanon and removal of all non-Islamic influences from area. Hizb Allah is strongly anti-West and anti-Israel. It operates under other names, such as: Islamic Jihad, Revolutionary Justice Organization, Organization of the Oppressed on Earth and Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine.

Hizb Allah is known or suspected to have been involved in numerous anti-US attacks, including the suicide truck-bombing of the US Embassy and US Marine barracks in Beirut in October 1983 and the US Embassy Annex in Beirut in September 1984. Elements of the group were responsible for the kidnapping and detention of US and other Western hostages in Lebanon. Hizb Allah strength is  around several thousand fighters. It mainly operates in the Al-Biqa'(Bekaa Valley), the southern suburbs of Beirut, and southern Lebanon. It has established cells in Europe, Africa, South America, North America, and elsewhere. Hizb Allah receives amounts of financial, training, weapons, explosives, political, diplomatic, and organizational aid from Iran and Syria.


Palestinian women play a great role in defending the existence of their country and brining up of generations of loyal Palestinians. Not only did they bring up the generations, they also participated even in military operations against the Israeli forces. That is why the political status of the Palestinian women is highly appreciated.

In the first and latest elections that was held on 20 January 1996, five women were elected as members in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), taking 5 seats out of the 88-seats council. These five women are: Dr. Hanan Mikhail Ashrawi (independent-Jerusalem), Dalal Abdul Hafiz Mahmoud Salameh (Fateh-Nablus), Jamileh Ahmad Saydam (Fateh-Dair Al-Balah), Intisar Mustafa Mahmoud Al-Wazir Um Jihad (Fateh-Gaza) and Rawya Rashad Said Al-Shawa (independent-Gaza).

With these first elections, women were allowed to vote and to be elected as members in the PLC and even in the cabinet of the PNA. Even in the Presidential elections, Yasser Arafat’s only candidate was a woman. This means that the Palestinian women have full political rights. One of these prominent female figures that deserves a few lines about is Dr. Hanan Ashrawi (check the special section).

Palestinian women have one of the highest fertility rates in the Arab world. It is 5.06 children born/woman in the West Bank and 7.68 children/woman in Gaza strip. The closest explanation for this is that the Palestinian women are giving birth of more children to make up for those who fell martyrs during their Jihad  against the Israeli forces. In some cases, the Palestinian woman is the one who looks after the family, either because of the death or the arrest of the father in any of the military operations by the Israelis.

On the other side, women's health is still a major concern for the Palestinian officials. Haidar Abdul Shafi, Gaza representative in the PLC, believes that the government should care for women medically, socially and educationally, their right to be equal to men, acknowledging their right as mothers to determine their priorities and obligations.


The water supply of the region is not abundant, with virtually all of the modest annual rainfall coming in the winter months. The Jordan River (Arabic: Nahr Al-Urdunn; Hebrew: Iha-Yarden) is the major water source in the zone. The river is 359 km long and it flows from Mount Hermon to the salty dead sea. It drains an area if 16,000 sq km and flows from the West of the Golan hights, to the sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias). After the 1967 war, the sea was recocginzed as the border between the Israeli occupied territories, Jordan and Israel. The water of Jordan river in addition to the few amounts supplied by underground water are rainfalls are extensively used by the three countries (Palestine, Israel and Jordan), and to a lower extent by Syria and Lebanon. The following table shows the amount of water flow in various Jordan river tributaries: (Main:1953)
Other sources of water include rainfall. 70% of rainfall is in December, January and February. However, 75% of these amounts is lost through evaporation.

It has been almost five years since the signing of the first Palestinian-Israeli agreement (September 1993), and Oslo agreement. Water was one of the major issues that hindered reaching to a comprehensive peace agreement. In the 1995 interim agreement signed in Washington, the first article dealing with water included the following statement: "Israel recognizes the Palestinian water rights in the West Bank. These will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations and settled in the Permanent status agreement relating to the various water resources." The agreement specifies that a water amount of 70-80 mcm/year will be allocated to the Palestinians in West Bank.

The Palestinians consider water a major concern for them. This concern has increased in the last period because the recent statistics showing comparative water use for the Palestinians and Israelis indicate that the Israelis use larger amounts of water. Moreover, the Israeli forces have been pumping water from different aquifers. In addition, the settlements are usually built beside fresh water resources, especially in Gaza strip.
The Palestinians list their concerns as follows (ARIJ):

The Palestinians define their rights in water as follows:

  1 -  Natural water of the Palestinians living in Jordan basin. The Palestinians were denied to these rights by the unjust Israeli policies.
  2 -  Water is legitimate right for the Palestinians as a compensation for all the damages caused by the Israeli illegitimate practices during the past 27 years.
  3 -  Fishing in Lake Tiberias.
  4 -  Full sovereignty over the Eastern aquifer water resources.
  5 -  Access to the Mediterranean and Dead sea for fishing, port development, and trade.

The major concerns among the Palestinians and Israelis are: water quality, allocations, water and agriculture and water supply and demand. In general, West Bank water is of good quality in comparison to the very poor quality of the Gaza strip water. In Gaza, the water is polluted and becoming unsuitable for domestic use. On the other side, according to the Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem (ARIJ), an Israeli uses 370 cubic meters per year, a Palestinian uses 107à156 cubic meters per year (average in West Bank and Gaza), while a Jewish settlers consumes 650à1,714 cubic meters per year. In addition, Israelis (outside West Bank and Gaza) use 483 million cubic meters per year from the West Bank waters while Palestinians are using only 118 million cubic meters per year of their own waters. This unjust distribution shows why water issue has become of such a critical importance for the Palestinians.
Definitely water will remain a critical issue in the Middle East. For the Palestinians, they want to make sure that the water tap will not always be in the hands of the Israelis.


Palestine had one old radio station, Voice of Palestine, whose headquarter was in Cairo. After the land for peace agreements, the Palestinians established a broadcast station in Jericho. In addition, they decided to hire a channel on the Egyptian satellite (NILE-SAT).
3.1% of the Palestinians have telephones in both the West Bank and Gaza strip. In West Bank, Israeli company BEZEK is responsible for communication services. 82% of the West Bank Palestinian inhabitants have radios, and 54% have televisions (1992 estimates). In Gaza strip, 95% have radios and 59% have televisions (1992 estimates).

In Gaza, the Palestinians have recently opened a new airport. This airport was finally opened after Wye river agreement, being accomplished since more than one year. In addition, they have two airports in the West Bank, however these are not under the full Palestinian control.



The Palestinians and Israelis meeting in Wye river in October 1998 agreed to sign an important land for peace agreement. The agreement will distribute control over the West bank in the following percents; the Palestinians will fully control 3% of the West Bank, 24% of the West Bank will be under Palestinian administration with Israeli security arrangement and the remaining 73% will continue being under the Israeli control. Jerusalem issue will be discussed in the final status negotiations. To reach to these decisions, the negotiating delegates managed to overcome 6 major problematic issues, by the help of US President Bill Clinton and King Hussein of Jordan. According to Time Magazine, these are the difficulties:
Land swap: Israel agrees to pull back troops from 13% of the occupied West Bank and 14% of the jointly controlled land. Israel would not move off the land until it locked in Palestinian agreements to arrest terrorists and confiscate illegal weapons. A "phased withdrawal" that will trade land in incremental steps over 12 weeks. The US will monitor the security changes.
Release of 3,000 Palestinians from Israeli jails  An intensely emotional issue for the Palestinians. The releases are expected to enhance Arafat’s image among his people. But Israeli was loath to let all these convicted criminals out at once.  A phased release that starts with 750 prisoners. Israel will carefully select which of the 3000 prisoners to be released.
Safe Passage for Palestinians travelling across Israel between West Bank and Gaza strip. Israelis were willing to allow bus and train transport but balked at difficult-to-trace passenger cars. Israel agreed to renew negotiations on safe passage immediately.
Opening of the Palestinian airport in Gaza  The airport was done long time ago, but the Israelis were afraid of transiting terrorists.   Israeli agreed to a protocol allowing the airport to operate until a comprehensive agreement is reached.
Revising the Palestinian National Charter that calls for Israel’s destruction. A very sensitive issue for both the Israelis and the Palestinians.  Arafat agreed to appease the Israelis and change some articles in the charter.
The delegates agreed to implement the agreement in 12 weeks according to the following timetable:
  1 -  Weeks 1=>2: Israeli withdraws from 2% of the West Bank and the Palestinian Central Committee begins the process of annulling the clauses calling for the destruction of Israel in the National charter of the PLO.
  2 -  Weeks 2=>3: Palestinians prepare to confiscate weapons from the Palestinians and provide a list of the Palestinian police force members.
  3 -  End of week 3: PLC cancels the PLO charter clauses and Israel withdraws from additional 5% of the West bank.
  4 -  Weeks 6=>12: Palestinians collect illegal weapons and Israel completes withdrawal

Dr. Hanan Mikhail Ashrawi is the representative of Jerusalem in the PLC. She was ranked second in the PLC elections among her constituency in Jerusalem. Ashrawi is a lecturer of English literature, in which she has gotten her Ph.D.. She was the spokesperson of the Palestinian delegate during the peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis. As Palestinian spokesperson, Hanan Ashrawi shot to fame at the 1991 Madrid peace conference, astonishing the world by upstaging her Israel counterpart, the "bully-boy sound-bite maestro" Bibi Netanyahu (who was a member in the Israeli delegate at that time).
At a time when Washington still refused to talk to Yasser Arafat, US TV audiences were wowed by the chain-smoking English literature lecturer from Ramallah. Here was a Palestinian they could love: an eloquent, liberated working mum who also happened to be Christian. Ashrawi is widely respected by Christians and Muslims for her integrity and fearless ability to stand up to Arafat. In the first PNA cabinet, she was appointed as the minister of higher education. In the second cabinet, she was re-appointed. However, she resigned one day after the cabinet formation because President Arafat re-appointed what she called the: "corrupt ministers" from Fateh in their positions.
As a member in the PLC, Ashrawi has set the following goals:
  1 . Rule of law: amend legal conditions to insure the justice of these laws and protect civil society, legislate a basic law, review the bills that were "enacted" up to now, judicial system.
  2 . Activate negotiations (continue with transitional phase, finalize it, form a committee from the council to follow up negotiations, higher committee to utilize experts to work within a specified political agenda -- settlements, lift siege of Jerusalem, support institutions in Jerusalem, prisoners, border crossings).
  3 . Ombudsman (supervisory control, citizens rights/women commission -- accountability, individuals’ rights, against misuse of authority and public funds).
  4 . Public institutions (review and monitor them, prevent misuse of security apparatus, budget and set priorities in expenditures - institution building and establishment of systems based on professionalism and transparency).
  5 . Economic and international planning committee (plan well-structured economy, find job opportunities and employment, activate private sector, program of social justice -- Arab, regional and international levels).

BIBLIOGRAPHY: The Water Conflict in the Middle East from a Palestinian Perspective Applied Research Center Central Intelligence Agency Terrorist Group Profiles CIA World Fact Book Arab Net Terrorism Research center Palestinian National Authority Palestinian Legislative Council The Charter of Hamas Palestine-Information Center Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS)
Palestine. Microsoft Encarta.  Computer software.  Microsoft Corporation, 1997.
Gaza strip. Microsoft Encarta.  Computer software.  Microsoft Corporation, 1997.
West Bank. Microsoft Encarta.  Computer software.  Microsoft Corporation, 1997.
Palestinian Liberation Organization. Microsoft Encarta.  Computer software.  Microsoft Corporation, 1997.

(All  data are based on CIA World Fact Book for July 1997 unless otherwise mentioned)
Hints: Because of the UN resolution 181 and the partition plan, old Palestine was divided between the Palestinians and the Jews, who established their Jewish state, Israel. The Palestinians were given the zones of West Bank of Jordan river and Gaza strip. However, later in 1948 and after the war, West Bank fell under the Jordanian control and protection, and Gaza strip was put under the Egyptian administration. During 1967 Six-Day War, Israel captured Gaza strip and the West Bank, in addition to some Egyptian, Syrian, and Jordanian lands. Egypt was able to restore its lands by 1973 Yom Kippur war and Camp David agreement (1979). The Palestinians and the Jordanians were able to restore some areas later (1993-94-95)
The following are some of the most important and recent geographic information about Palestine (By definition Gaza strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem).


Characteristic Gaza strip West Bank
Location Between Egypt and Israel West of Jordan
Coastline 40 km on the Mediterranean sea. 0 km (landlocked)
Area total: 360 km2 (no lakes, rivers, etc..) 5,860 km2land: 5,640 km2water: 220 km2 (which includes: the northwest quarter of the dead sea, and Jordan river)
Land boundaries 11 km with Egypt51 km with Israel `  307 km with Israel97 km with Jordan
Climate temperate, mild winters, and dry to hot summer.  Temperate, warm to hot summers, cool to mild winters. Temperature varies with altitude
Land Use 24% arable land39% permanent crops0% pastures11% forests26% others  27% arable land0% permanent crops32% pastures1% forests40% others