Definition of Youth

Although the Arab League of Nations adopts an age category for youth of 15-35, the Palestinian Youth Cross-Cutting Strategy (2011) defines youth as between 13-29 years.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 15.5
  • --
  • --
  • Female
  • --
  • 14.5
  • --

  • Parental consent is required for women to marry, but not for men. Age of consent for homo- and heterosexual relationships is equal in West Bank. In Gaza same sex relations can result in imprisonment from 14-years to a life-long. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Israel exercises penal jurisdiction over both Palestinians and Israeli settlers living in the West Bank. However, Israeli military law, applied to Palestinian children in the West Bank gives rise to stark inequalities in treatment. Source:  Israel Defense Forces military order
Children in Military Custody

Majority Age


Source: IDF Order 1676 (2011)

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 99.45% Male (15-24) %
  • 99.27% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 77.16%Male %
  • 84.31% Female %

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • -- Male (13-15) %
  • -- Female (13-15) %
  • Year: No data.
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
The youth policy and strategy of Palestine will be revised. A youth study and a policy study exist.

The national youth policy - planning document (2005) outlines the guiding principles and terms of reference used by governmental and non-governmental organisations during an effort to establish a national youth policy. This process was put on hold following the creation of the Higher Council of Youth and Sport. The more recent, but expired Youth Cross-cutting Strategy (2011-2013) includes a situation analysis of a range of policy areas. It notes the vision for Palestine’s youth as being "empowered and participative youth, who have diversified and equitable opportunities for a balanced growth within the framework of a democratic, pluralistic society." The strategy presents four strategic objectives (related to participation; citizenship and rights; empowerment, and access).

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Higher Council for Youth and Sports (HCYS) operates in the West Bank and Gaza. The headquarters of the HCYS are located in Ramallah and regional offices are located in north, south and central areas. The HCYS aims to establish a democratic Palestinian society and free nation, which provides citizens with equal opportunities. It aims to do this by providing a legal environment for organising youth work and sports; promoting the values of citizenship, belonging and civil rights; providing an environment for physical activity, and providing infrastructure.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
No broad-based national youth organisation could be found in Palestine. There however exists the Palestinian Youth Legislative Council (launched in 2013), a voluntary youth body that aims to provide an opportunity for youth participation and leadership for 132 young people aged 18-30. The initiative includes young people from the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza and replicates the structure of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Sharek Youth Forum implements the programme in partnership with the Palestinian Legislative Council and the United Nations Development Programme. The Government of Belgium funds the programme.

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
According to Ma’an News Agency NIS 67 million (USD 19 million) was the budget allotted to the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports in 2013 (the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports is the name sometimes used for the Higher Council for Youth and Sports in 2013). However, it is unclear what proportion of this amount is specifically for youth. The World Bank data centre does not currently collate data related to government expenditure on education provision in Palestine.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank
Gaps indicate missing data from the original data source. (Accessed August 2013).

Additional Background

From The EuroMed Youth III Programme: Studies on Youth Policies in the Mediterranean Partner Countries – Palestine Occupied Territories (2009):

The situation of young people in the oPt [occupied Palestinian Territories] is to an extremely high degree dominated by the political situation. This refers to both the ongoing conflict with Israel and the domestic situation. Here the rift between Hamas and Fatah and its result, i.e. two political entities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, produces an unstable setting for youth, youth work and youth policy.

...About 507 youth clubs and centres and about 250 other organisations dealing with young people are active, 42 of which working exclusively with youth are found in the Gaza Strip. In addition, there are the international NGOs and organisations, which offer youth activities.

...The major source of support to the Palestinian youth sector lies in the international donor community. Other support from the private sector or on a regional level (e.g. from the Arab League, ALECSO) was found existent but very limited.

From The Status of Youth in Palestine (2009):

Palestinian youth are perhaps the most politicized young people in the world; every party or ‘faction’ has a youth organization, student council elections are followed by the political classes as signals of tendencies in the country, youth voting rates remain high and many young people continue to demonstrate daily – at great personal risk – against Israeli occupation.

...The level of educational attainment in the oPt is significantly high; 2008 figures indicate that a total of 1,097,957 Palestinian children and youth were enrolled in primary and secondary-level education, with approximately 180,000 enrolled in post-secondary level study. In terms of youth-specific participation rates, approximately 75 percent of 15 – 19 year olds, and 20 percent of 20-29 year olds are enrolled in full time education. ...third-level participation rates (approximately 25-30 percent) are the highest in the region.

...In 2008, the World Bank estimates that 51.8 percent of households in the Gaza Strip, and 19.1 percent in the West Bank live below the poverty line. However, these statistics mask the true extent of the problem. If remittances and food aid are excluded, and poverty is calculated solely on the basis of income, then the poverty rates in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank would rise to 76.9 percent and 47.2 percent respectively; deep poverty rates would increase to 69.0 percent and 37.3.