Get free ads on the Yellow Pages

Gaza Strip

General Information

The September 1993 Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements provided for a transitional period of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Under a series of agreements signed between May 1994 and September 1999, Israel transferred to the Palestinian Authority (PA) security and civilian responsibility for Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank and Gaza. Negotiations to determine the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza stalled following the outbreak of an intifada in September 2000, as Israeli forces reoccupied most Palestinian-controlled areas.

In April 2003, the Quartet (US, EU, UN, and Russia) presented a roadmap to a final settlement of the conflict by 2005 based on reciprocal steps by the two parties leading to two states, Israel and a democratic Palestine. The proposed date for a permanent status agreement was postponed indefinitely due to violence and accusations that both sides had not followed through on their commitments. Following Palestinian leader Yasir ARAFAT's death in late 2004, Mahmud ABBAS was elected PA president in January 2005. A month later, Israel and the PA agreed to the Sharm el-Sheikh Commitments in an effort to move the peace process forward.

In September 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew all its settlers and soldiers and dismantled its military facilities in the Gaza Strip and withdrew settlers and redeployed soldiers from four small northern West Bank settlements. Nonetheless, Israel controls maritime, airspace, and most access to the Gaza Strip. A November 2005 PA-Israeli agreement authorized the reopening of the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt under joint PA and Egyptian control. In January 2006, the Islamic Resistance Movement, HAMAS, won control of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

The international community refused to accept the HAMAS-led government because it did not recognize Israel, would not renounce violence, and refused to honor previous peace agreements between Israel and the PA. HAMAS took control of the PA government in March 2006, but President ABBAS had little success negotiating with HAMAS to present a political platform acceptable to the international community so as to lift economic sanctions on Palestinians. The PLC was unable to convene throughout most of 2006 as a result of Israel's detention of many HAMAS PLC members and Israeli-imposed travel restrictions on other PLC members. Violent clashes took place between Fatah and HAMAS supporters in the Gaza Strip in 2006 and early 2007, resulting in numerous Palestinian deaths and injuries.

ABBAS and HAMAS Political Bureau Chief MISHAL in February 2007 signed the Mecca Agreement in Saudi Arabia that resulted in the formation of a Palestinian National Unity Government (NUG) headed by HAMAS member Ismail HANIYA. However, fighting continued in the Gaza Strip, and in June, HAMAS militants succeeded in a violent takeover of all military and governmental institutions in the Gaza Strip. ABBAS dismissed the NUG and through a series of Presidential decrees formed a PA government in the West Bank led by independent Salam FAYYAD. HAMAS rejected the NUG's dismissal and has called for resuming talks with Fatah, but ABBAS has ruled out negotiations until HAMAS agrees to a return of PA control over the Gaza Strip and recognizes the FAYYAD-led government.

FAYYAD and his PA government initiated a series of security and economic reforms to improve conditions in the West Bank. ABBAS participated in talks with Israel's Prime Minister OLMERT and secured the release of some Palestinian prisoners and previously withheld customs revenue. During a November 2007 international meeting in Annapolis Maryland, ABBAS and OLMERT agreed to resume peace negotiations with the goal of reaching a final peace settlement by the end of 2008.

Economy

High population density, limited land access, and strict internal and external security controls have kept economic conditions in the Gaza Strip - the smaller of the two areas under the Palestinian Authority (PA)- even more degraded than in the West Bank. The beginning of the second intifadah in September 2000 sparked an economic downturn, largely the result of Israeli closure policies; these policies, which were imposed to address security concerns in Israel, disrupted labor and trade access to and from the Gaza Strip. In 2001, and even more severely in 2003, Israeli military measures in PA areas resulted in the destruction of capital, the disruption of administrative structures, and widespread business closures. The Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in September 2005 offered some medium-term opportunities for economic growth, but continued Israeli-imposed crossings closures, which became more restrictive after Hamas violently took over the territory in June 2007, have resulted in widespread private sector layoffs and shortages of most goods.


Help building a better world  A   Afghanistan  Akrotiri  Albania  Algeria  American Samoa  American Virgin Islands  Andorra  Angola  Anguilla  Antarctica  Antigua and Barbuda  Argentina  Armenia  Aruba  Ashmore and Cartier Islands  Atlantic Ocean  Australia  Austria  Azerbaijan    B   Bahamas  Bahrain  Baker Island  Bangladesh  Barbados  Belarus  Belgium  Belize  Benin  Bermuda  Bhutan  Bolivia  Bosnia-Herzegovina  Botswana  Bouvet Island  Brazil  British Virgin Islands  Brunei Darussalam  Bulgaria  Burkina Faso  Burma  Burundi     C   Cambodia  Cameroon  Canada  Cape Verde  Cayman Island s  Central African Republic  Chad  Chile  China  Christmas Island  Clipperton Island  Cocos Keeling Islands  Colombia  Comoros  Congo Democratic Republic  Congo Republic  Cook Islands  Coral Sea Islands  Costa Rica  Croatia  Cuba  Cyprus  Czech Republic     D   Denmark  Dhekelia  Djibouti  Dominica  Dominican Republic     E   Ecuador  Egypt  El Salvador  Equatorial Guinea  Eritrea  Estonia  Ethiopia    F   Faeroe Islands  Falkland Islands  Fiji Island  Finland  France  French Polynesia  French Southern and Antarctic Lands    G   Gabon  Gambia  Gaza Strip  Georgia  Germany  Ghana  Gibraltar  Greece  Greenland  Grenada  Guam  Guatemala  Guernsey  Guinea  Guinea-Bissau  Guyana    H   Haiti  Heard Island and McDonald Islands  Honduras  Hong Kong  Howland Island  Hungary    I    Iceland  India  Indian Ocean  Indian Ocean Territory Brithish  Indonesia  Iraq  Iran  Ireland    Isle of Man  Israel  Italy  Ivory Coast    J   Jamaica  Jan Mayen  Japan  Jarvis Island  Jersey  Johnston Atoll  Jordan  Juan de Nova Island    K   Kazakhstan  Kenya  Kingman Reef  Kiribati-Gilbert Islands  Kosovo  Kuwait  Kyrgyzstan    L   Laos  Latvia  Lebanon  Lesotho  Liberia  Libya  Liechtenstein  Lithuania  Luxembourg    M   Macau  Macedonia  Madagascar  Malawi  Malaysia  Maldives  Mali  Malta  Marshall Islands  Mauritania  Mauritius  Mayotte  Mexico  Micronesia  Midway Islands  Moldova  Monaco  Mongolia  Montenegro  Montserrat  Morocco  Mozambique    N   Namibia  Nauru  Navassa Island  Nepal  Netherlands  Netherlands Antilles  New Caledonia French  New Zealand  Nicaragua  Niger  Nigeria  Niue  Norfolk Island  North Korea  Northern Mariana Islands  Norway    O   Oman    P   Pacific Ocean  Pakistan  Palau  Palmyra Atoll  Panama  Papua New Guinea  Paraguay  Peru  Philippines  Pitcairn Islands  Poland  Portugal  Puerto Rico    Q   Qatar    R  Romania  Russian Federation  Rwanda    S   Saint Barthelemy  Saint Helena  Saint Kitts and Nevis  Saint Lucia  Saint Martin  Saint Pierre and Michelon  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines  Samoa Islands  San Marino  Sao Tome and Principe  Saudi Arabia  Serbia  Senegal  Seychelles  Sierra Leone  Singapore  Slovak Republic  Slovenia  Solomon  Somalia  South Africa  South Georgia Islands  South Korea  South Sandwich Islands  Southern Ocean  Spain  Spratly Islands  Sri Lanka  Sudan  Suriname  Svalbard  Swaziland  Sweden  Switzerland  Syria    T   Taiwan  Tajikistan  Tanzania  Thailand  Timor-Leste  Togo  Tokelau  Tonga  Trinidad and Tobago  Tunisia  Turkey  Turkmenistan  Turks and Caicos  Tuvalu    U   Uganda  Ukraine  United Arab Emirates  United Kingdom  United States of America  Uruguay  Uzbekistan    V   Vanuatu  Vatican City  Venezuela  Vietnam    W   Wake Island  Wallis and Futuna  West Bank  Western Sahara  World    Y   Yemen    Z   Zambia  Zimbabwe