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Palestine is Not a Country

The Gaza Strip and the West Bank Lack Independent Country Status

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Palestine Flag

Nader Almassri of Palestine carries his flag during the Opening Ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics at the National Stadium on August 8, 2008 in Beijing, China.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Updated May 28, 2014
There are eight criteria accepted by the international community used to determine whether an entity is an independent country or not.

A country need only fail on one of the eight criteria to not meet the definition of independent country status.

Palestine (and I shall consider either or both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in this analysis) does not meet all eight criteria; it fails somewhat on one of the eight criteria...

1. Has space or territory that has internationally recognized boundaries (boundary disputes are OK).

Somewhat. Both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have internationally recognized boundaries. However, these boundaries are not legally fixed.

2. Has people who live there on an ongoing basis.

Yes, the Gaza Strip's population is 1,710,257 and the population of the West Bank is 2,622,544 (as of mid-2012).

3. Has economic activity and an organized economy. A country regulates foreign and domestic trade and issues money.

Somewhat. The economies of both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are disrupted by conflict, especially in Hamas-controlled Gaza only limited industry and economic activity is possible. Both regions have exports of agricultural products and the West Bank exports stone. Both entities utilize the new Israeli shekel as their currency.

4. Has the power of social engineering, such as education.

Somewhat. The Palestinian Authority does have social engineering power in fields such as education and health care. Hamas in Gaza also provides social services.

5. Has a transportation system for moving goods and people.

Yes; both entities have roads and other transportation systems.

6. Has a government that provides public services and police or military power.

Somewhat. While the Palestinian Authority is permitted to provide local law enforcement, Palestine does not have its own military. Nonetheless, as can be seen in the latest conflict, Hamas in Gaza does have control of a extensive militia.

7. Has sovereignty. No other State should have power over the country's territory.

Somewhat. The West Bank and Gaza Strip do not yet have full sovereignty and control over their own territory.

8. Has external recognition. A country has been "voted into the club" by other countries.

No. Despite the super-majority of United Nations members approving United Nations General Assembly resolution 67/19 on November 29, 2012, giving Palestine non-member state observer status, Palestine is not yet eligible to join the United Nations as an independent country.

While dozens of countries recognize Palestine as independent, it has not yet attained full independent status, despite the UN resolution. If the UN resolution had allowed Palestine to join the United Nations as a full member state, it would have immediately been recognized as an independent country.

Thus, Palestine (nor the Gaza Strip nor the West Bank) is not yet an independent country. The two parts of "Palestine" are entities that, in the eyes of the international community, have yet to obtain full have international recognition.

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