The Palestinians

The Palestinians : Background and U.S. Relations

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This report covers current issues in U.S.-Palestinian relations. It also contains an overview of Palestinian society and politics and descriptions of key Palestinian individuals and groups-chiefly the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the Palestinian Authority (PA), Fatah, Hamas (a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization), and the Palestinian refugee population. The "Palestinian question" is important not only to Palestinians, Israelis, and their Arab state neighbors, but to many countries and non-state actors in the region and around the world-including the United States-for a variety of religious, cultural, and political reasons. U.S. policy toward the Palestinians is marked by efforts to establish a Palestinian state through a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; to counter Palestinian terrorist groups; and to establish norms of democracy, accountability, and good governance. Congress has appropriated assistance to support Palestinian governance and development while trying to prevent the funds from benefitting Palestinians who advocate violence against Israelis. Since the signing of the Oslo Accord in 1993, Congress has committed more than $5 billion in bilateral assistance to the Palestinians, over half of it since mid-2007. Among the issues in U.S. policy toward the Palestinians is how to deal with the political leadership of Palestinian society. Although Fatah and Hamas agreed to the June 2014 formation of a consensus PA government appointed by Fatah head and PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas retains de facto control over security in the Gaza Strip, despite forswearing formal responsibility. The United States has sought to bolster Abbas-who also chairs the PLO-vis-a-vis Hamas, though some Members of Congress have manifested concern about Abbas's periodic dealings with Hamas, international diplomatic tactics, and perhaps increasingly authoritarian domestic leadership. Anticipation that Abbas may be approaching the end of his tenure may be fueling political posturing among possible successors and influencing Abbas's own decisions. The United States has supported various rounds of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations for more than 20 years. Another round ended acrimoniously in April 2014. Lack of progress on the peace process with Israel has led Abbas and his colleagues to consider alternative pathways toward a Palestinian state. This approach was initially based on the strategy of obtaining more widespread international recognition of Palestinian statehood in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip, and now may also be encouraging or taking advantage of international legal and economic pressure on Israel to improve the Palestinian negotiating position. The PLO has not obtained membership in the United Nations, but a November 2012 resolution in the U.N. General Assembly identified "Palestine" as a "non-member state," and the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) admitted "Palestine" in late 2011. The Palestinians are primed to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in April 2015, and the ICC could conceivably investigate Israeli, Palestinian, or other individuals for alleged crimes committed in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian actions at the ICC or elsewhere could trigger existing legal restrictions on U.S. aid and greater congressional scrutiny of future aid. The Gaza situation also presents a dilemma. Humanitarian and economic problems persist, especially in the wake of a summer 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas. Israel and Egypt maintain tight control over access to and commerce with Gaza. They and other international actors seem reluctant to take direct action toward opening Gaza's borders fully because of legal, political, and strategic challenges to dealing with Hamas."show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 50 pages
  • 215.9 x 279.4 x 2.79mm | 176.9g
  • Createspace
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1508605106
  • 9781508605102