Showing posts with label palestine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label palestine. Show all posts

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Explainer: Is Jerusalem the Capital of Israel or Not?

Detailed map of administrative control in Israel and the Palestinian territories (West Bank and Gaza Strip), including official and de facto capitals. Cities: Jerusalem, Ramallah, Gaza, Tel Aviv. Colorblind accessible.
Map by Evan Centanni. All rights reserved.

US recognizes Jerusalem as capital of Israel

This Wednesday, the United States government announced a new policy of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. US president Donald Trump said the declaration's purpose was to "acknowledge the obvious", while also revealing plans to eventually move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. These decisions were extremely controversial, to say the least. But why? We'll break it down for you:

So, what's the big deal?

Israeli law says the city of Jerusalem is the country's capital. But even Israel's closest ally, the US, has never officially accepted  the city's capital status. Almost every other country in the world has done the same: In fact, no country in the world has a proper embassy in Jerusalem. So the new move by the US is a major change of policy, and one that runs contrary to an established world consensus.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Map: Which Countries Recognize Palestine as Independent in 2016?

(Keep up with changes to Palestine's situation: view all Palestine updates.)

Map of countries that recognize the State of Palestine as an independent country, updated for February 2016 with recent addition Saint Lucia highlighted
Click to enlarge. Palestine in magenta (circled). Map by Evan Centanni, modified from public domain graphic (source).
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Friday, June 5, 2015

Vatican City Administration Recognizes Palestine as a Country (map)

(Keep up with changes to Palestine's situation: view all Palestine updates.)

Map of countries that recognize the State of Palestine as an independent country, updated for June 2015 with recent addition Vatican City (Holy See) highlighted
Click to enlarge: Countries recognizing the State of Palestine in green, with most recent addition highlighted. Palestine in magenta (circled). Map by Evan Centanni, modified from public domain graphic (source).
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Monday, December 8, 2014

Map: Which Countries Recognize Palestine in 2014?

(Keep up with changes to Palestine's situation: view all Palestine updates.)

Map of countries that recognize the State of Palestine as an independent country, updated for December 2014 with recent addition Sweden highlighted
Countries recognizing the State of Palestine in green, with most recent addition highlighted. Palestine in magenta (circled). Click to enlarge. Map by Evan Centanni, modified from public domain graphic (source).
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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Palestine: West Bank and Gaza Reunited Under Transitional Government

(Keep up with changes to Palestine's situation: view all Palestine updates.)

Map of the State of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including both its claimed borders (the Green Line) and zones of actual control (Areas A, B, and C from the Oslo Accords)
Control zones based on the Oslo Accords. Area A: Palestinian control; Area B: mixed Israeli-Palestinian control; Area C: full Israeli control. Map by Evan Centanni (sources: Natural Earth, B'Tselem, U.N. OCHA oPt).
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By Evan Centanni

Unity Government
The partially-unrecognized State of Palestine is not only divided between Palestinian and Israel control - even the Palestinian-administered areas have been governed separately for several years now. However, this month rival parties Hamas and Fatah have finally come together to reunite the West Bank and Gaza Strip under a single Palestinian government.

Divided Country
The rift in control opened up in 2007, after religious militant group Hamas won a majority of seats in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections. Hamas and Fatah, the current ruling party at the time, failed to form a stable unity government then, and the conflict between them escalated into a short civil war in the Gaza Strip. 

See Also: Is Palestine Really a Country?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Map: Palestine Recognized by Two More Countries (134/193)

(Keep up with changes to Palestine's situation: view all Palestine updates.)

Map of countries that recognize the State of Palestine as an independent country, updated for November 2013 with recent additions Haiti and South Sudan highlighted
Countries recognizing the State of Palestine in green, with most recent additions highlighted. Palestine in magenta (circled). Click to enlarge. Map by Evan Centanni, modified from public domain graphic (source).

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Who Recognizes Palestine in 2013?

(Keep up with changes to Palestine's situation: view all Palestine updates.)

 Palestine is now an Observer State in the U.N., but it's still not recognized individually by all U.N. member countries. Read on for more about the latest countries to recognize Palestine, plus other recent changes to its international status.
Map of countries that recognize the State of Palestine as an independent country, updated for May 2013 with most recent additions highlighted
Countries recognizing the State of Palestine in green, with most recent additions highlighted in lighter green. Palestine in magenta (circled). Map by Evan Centanni, modified from public domain graphic (source).

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Is Palestine Really a Country?

(Keep up with changes to Palestine's situation: view all Palestine updates.)

Palestine is now recognized as a country by both the U.N. and a majority of its members, but many  have questioned whether this new-found status reflects the truth on the ground. Is Palestine really an independent country, or is this a political fantasy concocted by supporters in the U.N.?

The Olso Accords divided the Palestinian territories into three areas of control (see article for explanation). Map by Evan Centanni. Sources: Natural Earth, B'Tselem, U.N. OCHA oPt.
What is a "sovereign state"?
By the most common definition, a "state" has to have:
  1. A government
  2. A defined territory
  3. A permanent population
  4. The ability to conduct foreign relations with other states
This definition is called the "declarative theory of statehood", and was formalized in the Montevideo Convention of 1933. To be a "sovereign" state (i.e. an independent country), it's also important that the government answers to no other country, and that the territory and population are actually under the government's control.

A prospective country that fits these criteria is described by geographers as a de facto sovereign state, even if it's not recognized by the international community (de facto is Latin for "in actual fact").

Friday, November 30, 2012

Palestine Recognized as a Country by the U.N.

(Keep up with changes to Palestine's situation: view all Palestine updates.)

This Thursday, the U.N. General Assembly voted to change Palestine's status in the organization from "observer" to "observer state". This is the first time the international body has recognized Palestine as a state, giving it the same status enjoyed by U.N. non-member Vatican City. 

Map of Israel with the occupied territories of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights highlighted
The State of Palestine claims the West Bank and Gaza, which are largely occupied by Israel. The Golan Heights are not part of the Palestinian Territories. Public domain map (source).
Until this Thursday, Palestine was a partially recognized country, acknowledged by some U.N. member nations, but not by the U.N. itself (See also: How many countries are there in the world?). Although its delegation has had observer status at the U.N. since 1974, it was never classified as a "state", being treated as something between a country and a non-government organization. Now, the organization has officially voted to change Palestine's status to "observer state" - effectively a recognition that it's an independent country, even though it's still not a U.N. member.

The Palestinian delegation campaigned to join the U.N. as a member last year, but had to give up after the U.S. promised to veto the application in the U.N. Security Council. Observer status, on the other hand, is determined by a majority vote in the U.N. General Assembly, which no single country can veto. That vote happened on November 29th, with members voting 138 to 9 in favor of granting Palestine observer state status (41 members abstained, and 5 were absent from the vote; see the full breakdown of national votes).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

States Recognize Palestine Ahead of U.N. Bid

Country Name: Palestine (English), Filastin (Arabic)
Official Name: State of Palestine (English), Dawlat Filastin (Arabic)
News Category: Partially Recognized States, Diplomatic Recognition
Summary: The Palestinian Liberation Organization, which claims sovereignty over the disputed territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as the State of Palestine, will apply for U.N. membership this week. Meanwhile, the total number of countries recognizing Palestinian independence has grown sharply in the lead-up to the U.N. bid.
The Palestinian Territories. Area A: Full Palestinian Control
(on the ground); Area B: Joint Palestinian-Israeli Control;
Area C: Full Israeli Control. Israeli government considers
the green areas "disputed territory". Map is my own work.
Sources: Natural Earth, B'Tselem, U.N. OCHA oPt, others.


Full Story
Palestine is a unique case within the nation-state system. It is recognized as an independent state by more than half of the world's countries, but not by the U.N. itself or by any major Western powers. It indirectly administers much of its claimed territories, yet exercises full sovereign control over none of them. At the heart of one of the world's most intractable conflicts, it is perhaps the most controversial topic in international politics. The coming weeks could see significant changes to the political status of the Palestinian Territories on the world stage.


The Palestinian Territories are made up of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, two regions previously controlled by Jordan and Egypt respectively, which were captured by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967. Israel has never fully relinquished control, and Egypt and Jordan eventually gave up their claims to the regions, leaving them in an unusual political situation. Despite widespread calls for independence based on a 1947 U.N. partition plan, Israel refuses to refer to them as anything other than "disputed territories" until negotiations determine their final status. Some of the land within the territories is now administered by the Palestinians, though much of it is still ruled by the Israeli military, which also controls all associated airspace and territorial waters.

Wikipedia: History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict 

This week, Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), will formally request full membership for the State of Palestine in the United Nations. The PLO declared independence in 1988, and has enjoyed a degree of support from the U.N. General Assembly, but currently only holds observer status in the organization, which pointedly labels it as a "non-state entity". Palestinian membership in the U.N. is likely to be vetoed by the U.S., which holds a permanent seat in the U.N. Security Council. However, Palestine may still achieve "state observer" status by a majority vote in the General Assembly, which would elevate it to the same level as the Holy See (Vatican City): a U.N.-recognized state with legal rights.

Countries recognizing the State of Palestine. Recent additions (in the last year) indicated in lighter color.
Modified from this map by Alinor at en.wikipedia (license: CC BY-SA).
Though 90 U.N. members recognized Palestine during the first year after its declaration, the number grew little over the next 15 years. However, since the campaign for U.N. membership began a few years ago, recognition has risen sharply. The State of Palestine is now recognized by 126 U.N. members - nearly two-thirds of the world body - 17 of which have announced their recognition just in the last year. This summer alone has seen six new additions: Syria, Liberia, El Salvador, Honduras, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Belize. Palestine's independence is also endorsed by Western Sahara, a partially-recognized state without U.N. membership.

Chart over time of total U.N. members recognizing the State of Palestine. My own work (source).

Wikipedia:
State of Palestine, Palestinian Territories, International Recognition of the State of Palestine

Sunday, June 5, 2011

News Bits: June 2011

"News Bits" posts cover minor political geography events from the previous month. Although the news may be of great political relevance, these events haven't (yet) affected major changes to the shapes, sovereignty, or international positions of the world's countries.

Abyei's location within Sudan
(yellow). The south (blue) gains
independence this July. Based
on this map (license: CC BY-SA).
Sudan Government Forces Overrun Disputed Abyei
The Abyei Area, subject of a territorial dispute between the central Government of Sudan and the autonomous Southern Sudan region, has been invaded by Sudanese government forces. Southern troops, who had shared joint control of the area with the central government, have been driven out, along with many of the area's inhabitants. Southern Sudan is set to become an independent country this July, based on the 2005 peace agreement that ended Sudan's second civil war. A referendum was planned for Abyei residents to choose whether they would stay in Sudan or join the new Republic of South Sudan, but it was never held due to disagreements about who was eligible to vote. The Sudan government in Khartoum has asserted that it will not give up Abyei, and southern president Salva Kiir has promised not to go to war again over the territory.

Israel with occupied territories (green).
The PLO claims both the West Bank
and Gaza Strip, but they are currently
ruled by rival factions (map source).
West Bank & Gaza Strip to be Reunited
Rival Palestinian political parties Fatah and Hamas have agreed to form a new unity government in the coming months, which will effectively reunite their respective territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Both groups claimed control of the Palestinian Authority (PA) government after a brief civil war following the 2006 elections, in which Hamas won a majority of seats in the previously Fatah-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council. The armed clash left Hamas in control of the Gaza Strip, while Fatah retained its authority in the Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank. Known to the U.N. as the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the West Bank and Gaza Strip are claimed as the State of Palestine by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), parent organization of the PA. Over half of the U.N.'s member countries have recognized the state's independence, but the U.N. itself has not. Furthermore, the territories remain under military occupation by Israel, which controls much of the West Bank as well as all air space and territorial waters in the region.

Peruvian and Ecuadorian waters, with the newly agreed
upon boundary marked in yellow. My own work, based
on data sources listed on map (terms of use).




Ecuador & Peru Define Sea Border
The neighboring South American countries of Ecuador and Peru have formally agreed on a boundary between their respective territorial waters in the Pacific Ocean. Although the location of the border was never actively in dispute, its acceptance had been called into question by Peru's ongoing territorial dispute with Chile, in which Peru claims a 1952 agreement between the three countries did not technically establish the location of their maritime borders. The new agreement is widely seen as a move by Peru to gain Ecuador's support as the case of the Peru-Chile conflict heads to the International Court of Justice. The agreed upon boundary is located along the parallel of 3° 23' 33.96" S, originating at the point where the countries' land border reaches the ocean.

Libya as of June 1, 2011. Cities controlled by Gaddafi
government in green, rebel-held cities in black, and
areas of ongoing fighting in blue. Public domain map
from Wikipedia (source).
Libyan Rebels Gain Further Recognition
Libya's rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) over the last month gained diplomatic recognition from five more national governments, bringing to 11 the list of countries recognizing its legitimacy. The NTC forms the political leadership of the rebel forces fighting for control of the North African country against dictator Muammar Gaddafi, in a civil war provoked by Gaddafi's violent crackdown on popular protests last February. Although Libya's independence is already recognized by the U.N. and all of it's members, countries have begun to make the special diplomatic gesture of switching their recognition from Gaddafi's government to the NTC. Recent additions to the list are Jordan, Russia, and Malta; two other countries, Senegal and Turkey, have acknowledged the NTC's status as a legitimate opposition group, while still maintaining ties with Gaddafi. Six other countries, starting with France in early March, had all previously recognized the NTC as Libya's sole representative, some of them expelling Gaddafi's diplomats and sending ambassadors to the rebel command center in Benghazi. As Gaddafi's forces continue to face NATO bombing attacks, the war has ground to a near-stalemate, with Gaddafi controlling the capital city of Tripoli and several smaller western cities, while the rebels control the eastern half of the country and some areas of the west.