The Palestinian leadership is comprised of a series of institutions that are all meant to serve the Palestinian people. The acronyms that distinguish them can be confusing to the uninitiated, but the relationship between each is really quite simple.
PLO – Palestine Liberation Organization: The PLO is the international representative of the Palestinian people and is managed by the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is comprised of eighteen members who are elected by the Palestinian National Council, a body of 669 representatives (currently) of the many Palestinian political factions. Its chairman is also the President of the Palestinian Authority
PA – Palestinian Authority: The PA (sometimes called the Palestinian National Authority – PNA) serves as the interim national government of Palestine. It was established in 1994 as part of the Oslo Accords, and it is responsible for security and civilian affairs in Palestinian population centers. The president of the PA is also the chairman of the PLO, and he is responsible for setting policy. The PA is also served by a Prime Minister, who is responsible for the management and operations of the government and who serves under the direction of the president.
PLC – Palestinian Legislative Council: The PNC is the legislative body of the Palestinian authority. It is comprised of 132 members who are elected to represent the sixteen electoral districts in Palestine.
What is Hamas and how is it related to the government?
Hamas is a Palestinian political party that was elected to power in 2006. In 2007, conflict between Hamas and the current Palestinian Authority left Hamas in control of the Gaza Strip and the PA in control of the West Bank. Hamas has since formed a separate government for the territory it controls.
What about that unity agreement?
In April of 2011, Hamas and Fatah, the party currently heading the PA, signed a memorandum of understanding, agreeing to form a transitional government that would coordinate national elections. Changing conditions in the region, as well as growing pressure from the Palestinian people to reform the government through comprehensive elections, encouraged the parties to seek a deal. The transitional government, when formed, is expected to be comprised of independent technocrats rather than party members.