Palestine will become the 194th member of the U.N. if its application for statehood goes ahead and succeeds. But what will be the territory of Palestine? Palestine is likely to consist of territory in the West Bank and Gaza, totalling around 6,200 sq km. At the moment the two areas are physically separate, although they could be linked by a sealed road in future. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their new state. Israel, which annexed the east of the city after the 1967 war, rejects any division.
The borders have not been decided and will be a matter for negotiation with Israel, which wants to retain its big settlement blocs in the West Bank. Land swaps in compensation are expected to be agreed.
The Palestinian population is around 2.6 million in the West Bank, 1.6 million in Gaza and 270,000 in East Jerusalem.
Palestinians are overwhelmingly Muslim although there is a small Christian population.
There are also around 300,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank and a further 200,000 in East Jerusalem. Israel evacuated settlers from Gaza in 2005.
Arabic is the language of Palestine.
What are the symbols of the new state? Flag: black, white and green stripes overlaid with a red triangle, adopted as the flag of the Palestinian people in 1964. It was banned by the Israeli government until 1993.
Passport: Palestinian Authority passports have been available to people born within its jurisdiction since 1995. However, many Palestinians hold Jordanian passports.
Currency: the Israeli shekel, but there is talk of reviving the Palestinian pound.
Sport: Palestine has both a men's and a women's national football team.
Military: Palestine has no army, air force or navy.
How is Palestine governed? There are two separate de facto governments in the West Bank and Gaza, under a president elected by all the Palestinian people. There is also an elected legislative council.
In the West Bank, the authority, dominated by the Fatah political faction, is the official administrative body. Established in 1994 under the Oslo accords, its jurisdiction runs only in the main cities of the West Bank.
Hamas is in charge of the Gaza Strip after fighting a bloody battle for control against Fatah in 2007, after winning elections 18 months before.
The Palestinian president is Mahmoud Abbas, and the prime minister in the West Bank is Salam Fayyad. In Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh is the de facto prime minister.
Earlier this year, following a reconciliation agreement with Hamas, which has since faltered, Mr. Abbas promised elections next year.
Does Palestine already have most of the institutions of state? There is a legislative council and local authorities, and ministries of finance, health, education, transport, agriculture, interior, justice, labour, culture, social affairs etc.
The West Bank and Gaza have separate security forces and judicial systems.
There is a Palestinian stock exchange in Nablus.
Where does its money come from? Most of the authority's income comes from international donors, although it also raises money from taxes and customs. Under the Oslo accords, Israel collects around £69 million each month in customs duties which it then forwards to the authority.
Employees pay taxes, although much employment is on a cash basis.
Most of the West Bank's trade is with Israel, although some goods are exported to Europe. Exports from the West Bank were estimated to be worth around $850 million last year. Exports from Gaza have ceased, with rare exceptions, since Israel imposed a blockade more than four years ago.
The EU contributes around $700 million a year, and the U.S. $600 million.
In April, the International Monetary Fund said the authority was “now able to conduct the sound economic policies expected of a future well-functioning Palestinian state, given its solid track record in reforms and institution-building in the public finance and financial areas.” Gaza's funding is opaque. According to Israeli and western intelligence, money is channelled from Iran and Islamist supporters in the Arab world.
Will state recognition change the situation on the ground? No, is the short answer. Almost everything will be the same. The lives of Palestinians will continue to be dominated by the Israeli occupation and control over their territory. But it may strengthen their position in future talks. What about Gaza? Gaza is hardly mentioned in all the current debate about a Palestinian state. Mahmoud Abbas is the elected president of all Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza, but the current geographic and political separation make a unified state difficult. Hamas disapproves of the authority's approach to the U.N., saying it reflects a “path of compromise” instead of resistance. Mr. Haniyeh has said: “We support establishing a Palestinian state on any part of Palestinian land without giving up an inch of Palestine or recognising Israel.”
I want to visit the new state of Palestine. How do I get there? The West Bank's only entry and exit points are overland via Israel and Jordan. It has no airport and is landlocked. It is practically impossible for ordinary visitors to get into Gaza. It has two strictly-controlled exit and entry points by land to Israel and Egypt. Israel maintains a naval blockade off Gaza's coast preventing the movement of sea traffic. The runway of Gaza's airport was bombed by the Israelis in 2002. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2011