Palestinian National Authority — History and Culture
The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is among the world’s most renowned destinations, although not necessarily for the right reasons. Part of the highly desired Holy Land region, the PNA has been in virtually-constant conflict with Israel since the end of WWII. Despite efforts to broker peace deals, the area is still experiencing bouts of conflict today.
Since the end of WWII, the area formerly known as Palestine has been engulfed in a bloody war with the reformed Zionist state, Israel. From 1947 onwards, constant shifting in the Israeli-Palestinian borders were results of consistent armed conflict between the two warring parties. The encroachment of Israeli military campaigns into Palestinian areas, and the subsequent retaliations of Palestinian and Arabic military powers, led to fierce fighting in the region.
Following the successful Israeli capture of Palestinian areas in the Six Days War of 1967, Palestinians grew frustrated with the suppressive nature of the Israeli government. Israel’s government was accused of limiting Palestinian nationalism in many forms, and even built Jewish settlements across the West Bank. Eventually, the simmering boiled over into full scale rioting and bloody retaliations between 1987 and 1993. This is commonly called the First Intifada. These uprisings led to the establishment of the Oslo Accords in 1993, and subsequently the creation of the PNA in 1994.
The newly formed PNA provided Palestinian with self-rule in the previously occupied areas of the West Bank and Gaza. However, this Palestinian ‘rule’ was limited to internal affairs. It was also meant to be an interim government until further negotiations were completed. However, resolutions between Israeli and Palestinian leaders were never made, and a second uprising, known as the Second Intifada, began in September 2000. Thousands of people died in the uprisings, from rioting, rocket attacks, suicide bombings, and military advances. The Israeli West Bank Barrier was built in 2002 to safeguard against suicide bombers, and PNA infrastructure in both Gaza and West Bank was destroyed.
In 2004, Israel began to withdraw troops and Jewish locals from Gaza, and de-established some Jewish settlements in the West Bank. However, they still continued to control the air and sea space of the Gaza Strip. Following Yasser Arafat’s death, elections took place, resulting in a Hamas government victory. In 2007, Hamas expelled the PNA representatives from the Gaza Strip, and a civil war broke out in 2008 between Hamas and Fatah parties.
To this day, continued tensions are still simmering between the Hamas government and Fatah. The Gaza Strip, which is primarily governed by the Hamas party, is suffering from economic hardships, with overpopulation and high unemployment stifling the local economy. Meanwhile, the PNA-controlled areas of the West Bank are more liberalized and economically stable. There was an agreement signed between the Hamas and Fatah government in 2011, which will hopefully lead to a unified government, strengthening the possibility of achieving peace in the region; although with bloody conflicts even at the time of writing, the road ahead looks long and tough.
Despite the alleged attempts by the Israeli government to suppress the nationalism and parts of the Palestinian culture, the PNA still contains its long and rich traditions. Even though the PNA is a predominantly Muslim country, it is still quite a liberal nation when it comes to Islamic law. Three religions co-exist in the PNA – Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.
When traveling around the country, female tourists are advised to dress with modest styling. It is not recommended for women to wear too much revealing clothing, as this may offend locals. During Ramadan, non-Muslims don’t have to follow the fasting laws. However, it may be a good idea to stay in private areas while eating during the day.