Another brick in the wall: The new time barrier may further divide the Middle East.
The Gaza Strip and the West Bank will observe two different local times from August 30, 2011. This has never been the case before over such a long period of time in the history of the Palestinian territories.
The politics of time keeping
The Palestinian Authority recently announced that the Palestinian Territories will revert to daylight saving time (DST) on August 30, 2011 after clocks had been turned one hour backwards to accommodate for religious practices during Ramadan. However, the Hamas government's civil service bureau has since made it clear that the Gaza Strip will not follow this directive and remain on standard time until further notice. According to the Palestinian Ma'an news agency this announcement was issued on Saturday, August 27, 2011.
Although the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have followed two different local times for a short period of time in 2010 and 2008, this long-term arrangement is unprecedented in the history of the Palestinian Territories.
The Jerusalem Post, an Israeli daily, was quick to comment on the political implications of this step: “The difference over the time in the Palestinian Territories is the result of the power struggle between Fatah and Hamas.” A partly violent conflict had ensued between the two most influential political parties operating in the Palestinian Territories after the Hamas won the elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in 2006. The struggle was formally ended by a reconciliation agreement in May 2011.
Time in the Middle East
From August 30, 2011, the West Bank will observe daylight saving time (Eastern European Summer Time, UTC +3 hours), which will be the same as Israel local time. The Gaza Strip will remain one hour behind the two.
October 2, 2011 will see the clocks change one hour backwards in Israel to Israel Standard Time (UTC +2 hours). The country will then observe the same time as the Gaza Strip.
One day later, on October 3, 2011, the West Bank will revert to Eastern European Time (UTC +2 hours). If all goes to plan, all three territories will then observe the same local time again.
timeanddate.com will provide updates on this and other time zone news as events unfold.