The government of the areas in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank handed over to Palestinian rule in response to the accords of Oslo, Gaza–Jericho, and Wye. In 1996 Arafat was elected its President, with over 80 per cent of the popular vote. It consisted of an assembly of 88 seats, of which al‐Fatah occupied 50 after the 1996 elections. It became a significant factor in the Palestinian economy, as it employed around 30,000 paramilitary police and as many civilian administrators. Nevertheless, it was accused of mismanagement, with an investigation concluding that leading members of al‐Fatah had embezzled over $300 million before 1997. Its corruption added to the economic problems of the Palestinian territories, as Palestinians were no longer allowed to work in Israel. Mismanagement and growing powerlessness against Israel fuelled popular discontent and helped radicalize a disproportionately young population against the status quo. The PNA was also accused by Amnesty International of human rights violations, for instance for the illegal detainment of 500 prisoners on charges without trial of collaborating with Israel. It was also accused by Israel of secretly developing its police force into an army, in violation of its treaty obligations to Israel.
Arafat was succeeded by Abbas, but owing to years of mismanagement, al‐Fatah lost the 2006 elections to Hamas. Since Hamas refused to recognize Israel, the PNA was cut off from most of its funds, which came from abroad. This increased poverty even further, as the PNA was unable to pay many of its employees. In 2006, over 50 per cent of the Palestinian population lived below the poverty line, with over 25 per cent of the working population being unemployed. In 2007, Hamas asserted sole authority over Gaza, whereupon Abbas reasserted his authority over the PNA, though its reach was subsequently limited to the West Bank.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).