Key figures

Key figures
Key figures

Research overview


Responding to challenges and existing knowledge gaps facing the cooperative movement, this mapping research seeks to provide exhaustive information on cooperatives worldwide. This is achieved through a process jointly conducted by the ICA and its four regional offices – Cooperatives of the Americas, Cooperatives Europe, ICA Africa, and ICA Asia-Pacific – using a common methodology. Each office collected the input of ICA members present in the countries within its geographic area, by using the same questionnaire, and completing it with relevant national statistics, in order to obtain an accurate picture of the national situation. Mapping out cooperatives in each country provides a more precise picture of the cooperative context at national and regional levels, enhances the movement's visibility, networking, partnerships opportunities, as well as advocacy, and empowers cooperators by providing them tools for positive change.

This webpage presents a snapshot of the research results for Palestine. For more information, you can download the full report and the highlights here.




The cooperative movement in Palestine began under the British colonial administration in 1920s. After independence from British rule, while the movement witnessed growth in diverse sectors with the support from Jordan and Egypt, the continuing conflict between Palestine and Israel resulted in weakening of the movement. During difficult war times between 1960s and 1990s, cooperatives were used as a means to organise refugees and promote socio-economic development among them. Post 2000s, with the support from international organisations, the cooperative movement has again seen a positive impetus with focus being on an enabling policy and legal environment for cooperatives, peace and development, agriculture, housing, women and youth as key areas. 




ICA has four members from Palestine.

In Palestine, the data collected was for the reference year 2019.


ICA members represent 342 active cooperatives in West Bank with 39,370 members.

Cooperatives in Palestine are present in diverse sectors, including housing, agriculture, consumer, savings and credit, and service. 


Legal framework


The legal framework analysis aims to provide general knowledge of the national cooperative legislation and of its main characteristics and contents, with particular regard to those aspects of regulation regarding the identity of cooperatives and its distinction from other types of business organisations, notably the for-profit shareholder corporation.

It aims to evaluate whether the national legislation in place supports or hampers the development of cooperatives, and is therefore “cooperative friendly” or not, and the degree to which it may be considered so, also in comparison to the legislation in force in other countries of the ICA region, or at the supranational level.

In addition, the research aims to provide recommendations for eventual renewal of the legal frameworks in place in order to understand what changes in the current legislation would be necessary to improve its degree of “cooperative friendliness”, which is to say, to make the legislation more favourable to cooperatives, also in consideration of their specific identity. This webpage presents a snapshot of the legal framework analysis results for Palestine.



The Palestinian Decree-law N° 20 of 2017 is the only law that regulates cooperative associations in Palestine. It replaced cooperative laws N°50 of 1933 and N° 17 of 1956, thus giving Palestine a unified cooperative law.  There are no special laws on different types of cooperatives in Palestine.


Main laws relevant to cooperatives in Palestine

The Palestinian Decree-law N° 20 of 2017 - One general law for all types of cooperatives.

Palestinian basic Law(an interim constitution of sorts) - Does not mention the word cooperatives but enshrines the rights of Palestinian citizens to form and establish unions, associations, societies, clubs and popular institutions in accordance with the law.


The Decree-law on cooperatives makes an explicit reference to the seven ICA principles, though these are not defined in the law.


Cooperative friendliness

The Palestinian legislation is quite “cooperative friendly”. A clear definition of the word ‘cooperative’ in harmony with the ICA definition and ILO recommendation 193, and limited discretionary powers during the registration of cooperatives add to the cooperative friendliness. Though, it can be made even friendlier through supplementary regulations.


Key recommendations for improvement

  • There is an imbalance of power between the leadership and staff of Cooperatives Works Agency (CWA), and those of its board which can be addressed through appropriate clauses in the CWA bylaws.
  • To make the CWA Board more inclusive of the cooperative movement.
  • There should be greater autonomy to cooperatives in regulating their own affairs through their bylaws.
  • The alignment of the Decree-law is more towards regulation but the promotion of cooperatives.
  • A balance between regulation and promotion, in consensus with ILO recommendation 193 might be considered.



Palestine’s progressive cooperative law can serve as a source of inspiration especially in the case of one member – one vote principle, surplus allocation and its harmony with the cooperative principles.





The legal frameworks analysis is a tool developed under the ICA-EU Partnership #coops4dev. It is an overview of the national legal frameworks at the time of writing. The views expressed within are not necessarily those of the ICA, nor does a reference to any specific content constitute an explicit endorsement or recommendation by the ICA. 

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