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Country Profile:

Palestine is a land with a rich history and a tradition of hospitality. Situated at the crossroads between Africa, Europe and the Middle East, Palestine is a unique blend of languages, cultures and beliefs. It is also home to some of the most significant religious monuments in the world. The following sections describe the sociopolitical characteristics of the country, and what one can expect when doing business in this vibrant, emerging market.

Palestine at a Glance
Regional Map
Business and Culture
Government Structure
Legal Environment
 
Official Name: Palestinian National Authority
Total Area: 6,450 km²
Climate: 350 Days of Sunshine

Average temperatures:
Winter: High: 16°C , Low: 7°C
Summer: High: 27°C Low: 15°C

Population* in west bank and Gaza strip:

4,168,858

Principal Cities*: (Population) Bethlehem:194,095
Gaza City: 551,832
Hebron: 620,417
Jenin: 281,156
Jericho: 46,718
Jerusalem: 389,298
Nablus: 348,023
Ramallah & Al-Bireh: 310,218
Rafah: 195,598
Languages: Arabic (official)
English (population generally conversant)
French, German, Hebrew, Italian, and Spanish are widely spoken
Literacy Rate
(15-54 age range)*:
Total: 94.9%
Male: 97.6%
Female: 92.2%

Real GDP (2011 USD millions)**

6,323.0

Real GDP (2011 USD)**

1,609.6

Real GNI (2011 in USD millions) **

6,906.8

GNI per capita (2011 USD) **

1,758.2

Used Currencies:

New Israeli Shekel (NIS) Jordanian Dinar (JD) US Dollar(USD)
 
* Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS)
** source: Palestinian Monetary Authority Depending on Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) and Ministry of Finance (MoF) data
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Regional Map
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Business and Culture:

The overall Palestinian business community is marked by its entrepreneurial nature. Given the nature of the business environment here and a history of reliance on Israel for many goods and services, almost every business established in Palestine will have a niche market of needs to fulfill.

In addition, returning Palestinians from the US, Europe and around the world have become accustomed to a certain level of professionalism and a certain quality and standard of goods. These standards and needs are becoming visible as the number of ISO certified businesses are increasing locally.

Many owners of large enterprises have international contacts and experience. In the past, business development and trade were directed towards Europe and the Gulf, more recently however local entrepreneurs have been turning to North America for partnerships, joint ventures and technical expertise.

All this said, Palestinians are extremely hospitable people, and it would be unheard of not to make a guest feel welcome in our country. It is very much the norm to discuss plans and opportunities over a cup of strong Arabic coffee or mint tea, or to be invited to dinner at a family home, or out to a restaurant for a meal. Also, politics are very much the topic of the day and if you want local insight, all you have to do is ask.

Pay no attention to what is said of the Palestinians on the news, we really are a generous, welcoming people with a strong drive to build our economy.

A prosperous Palestine truly is the strongest first step towards a lasting Just peace in the region.


Language & dress:

The majority of Palestinian business people speak English, but it is advisable when negotiating contractual and legal documents to employ the services of a reliable translator, and/or a local attorney, to assist with the deal.

Palestinians tend to dress formally for business, usually in western business suits. In non-business situations men and women tend to dress with an eye towards conservatism.

Business cards are always exchanged and appointments can be made on short notice.

The official work week is Sunday – Thursday. This varies by the firm; some take the Friday off, others are closed on Sunday.

 

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Government Structure

Palestine is an autonomous, secular, nation with a democratically elected government. The process of institutional development began with the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. These accords established the Palestinian National Authority as the executive representative of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). The Oslo agreement defines the interim rules of administration and authority during the period leading up to a final status agreement with Israel.

The status of Palestine during this period is defined in the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government (DOP), signed in Washington in September 1993. In the agreement, the Palestinian National Authority is defined geographically as the self-ruled territories, and administratively as the two main organizations, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and the Council of Ministers.

With respect to sovereignty during the interim period, the occupied territories are divided into three different areas according to the level of Palestinian authority. Israel maintains external security in all three areas.

Area "A" covers all Palestinian urban areas where the PNA has full autonomy. The PNA is responsible for administration and enforcement of the law on all levels. This includes civilian and police powers.
Area "B" covers Palestinian rural areas where the PNA has civilian jurisdiction but no police powers. Israeli and Palestinian police patrol together
Area "C" includes Israeli settlements, military areas and open areas. These areas are under complete Israeli control.
Palestinian Governmental Structure (2009)

The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) is the representative legislative body, or parliament of Palestine. It is a unicameral legislative council comprised of the President, elected to a 4-year term by direct popular vote, and 132 members, directly elected on a multi-member constituency basis. The current President, Mahmoud Abbas, became President of the palestinian National Authority on January 2005.


The Council of Ministers reports to the PLC. Due to the geographical separation between Gaza and the West Bank (approximately 1.5 hours by car), each ministry maintains two offices and two staffs for the time being.

Palestinian National Authority

President

Mr. Mahmoud Abbas elected by the Palestinian people in the West Bank, Gaza strip, and East Jerusalem

Prime Minister

Position appointed by the President. Current Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad


Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC)
One Hundred Thirty Two members elected by Palestinian popular vote in the West Bank, Gaza strip and East Jerusalem

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Legal Environment

The Palestinian legal system is currently in the process of being modernized. For this process to be valid and all-encompassing, it is naturally going to take some time. Once the draft laws have been drawn up, each piece of legislation will call for ratification with the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and promulgation.

At present the legal environment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip represents a conglomeration of a variety of laws imposed upon the areas by historical rulers. The current series of laws being established will add new layers, modernize and unify the existing laws, and establish new laws where necessary.

Considerable international assistance in the form of technical expertise and financial aid is being provided in order to both speed up the process, and ensure the new laws are just and effective in the long-term. The process of defining a new legal system for a nation in its infancy is even at the best of times, a rightly drawn out process.

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