Palestine is comprised of two separate parts: the West Bank, controlled by Jordan until 1967, and the Gaza Strip, controlled by Egypt until 1967, when Israel gained control over the areas. At present, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) controls the main towns and scattered enclaves in the West Bank. Jewish settler enclaves and Israeli military authorities control the rest.

The PNA was appointed as an administrative body in both the West Bank and Gaza. While the PNA has been allowed to extend its jurisdiction to increasingly more towns and rural areas, Israel's presence remains. After winning a large majority in the Palestinian Parliament in 2007 and defeating rival Palestinian party Fatah in a series of violent clashes, Hamas now governs Gaza.

Pressure from all sides, particularly from Islamists, is squeezing out the dwindling Christian minority in both the West Bank and Gaza. Today, 87.7 percent of the population is Muslim, 8.5 percent is Jewish, and 1.61 percent is Christian.  Most Arab Muslims view Arab Christians not as fellow Arabs, but as infidels and western collaborators. Those living in refugee camps in neighbouring countries face pressure from extremists and face an uncertain future of homelessness and poverty.


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