The boundaries of the region have changed throughout history. Today, the region comprises the State of Israel and the Palestinian territories in which the State of Palestine was declared.
The name originally referred to the Philistines, from the Greek word Plesheth, meaning “invaders”. The Romans called the land “Palestina.”
|The name is found throughout recorded history incl Notitia Dignitatum (Latin, c.410 AD);|
The first clear use of the name “Palestine” was in the 5th century BC by Ancient Greek historian Herodotus.
The Israelites ruled over the region after the exodus from Egypt. At the time it was an area known as Southern Canaan or the Land of Israel. The area went from Tyre in the north to Beersheba in the south.
|Depiction of Biblical Palestine in c. 1020 BC according to George Adam Smith’s 1915 Atlas of the Historical Geography of the Holy Land|
After the death of King Solomon, the land was split into a Northern Kingdom, Samaria, and Southern Kingdom, Judea. The Northern Kingdom was conquered by Assyrian King Sennacherib, expelling most of its Israelite residents. Judea was conquered by the Babylonians more than one hundred years later, and much of its Jewish population was expelled as well.
After the Persian takeover of the Babylonian Empire, many Jews returned to Judea and slowly rebuilt their civilization. The area remained under direct Persian rule for 200 years more, with Jews having a limited autonomy..
With the conquests of Alexander the Great, the area became dominated by Hellenistic rulers. Slowly however, the region became dominated by the Roman Empire. After a semi-independent rule of King Herod, Judea was turned into a Roman Province.
Following the decline of the Roman Empire, the region was conquered by the Muslim Arabs in 636, which made it a target for the Crusades. During a battle for control over western Asia, the Ottomans conquered Palestine in 1516.
After the First World War, the British were formally awarded the mandate to govern the region. The British Mandate for Palestine came into effect on September 29, 1923, officially creating the protectorates of Palestine under British administration and Transjordan as a separate emirate under Abdullah I.
|The arrival of Herbert Samuel as the first High Commissioner for Palestine in 1920|
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded in 1964 with the purpose of the “liberation of Palestine” through armed struggle, with much of its violence aimed at Israeli civilians. Yasser Arafat took over as chairman of the PLO on February 4, 1969, a position he held until his death in November 2004.
The United Nations General Assembly recognized the PLO as the “representative of the Palestinian people” and granted the PLO observer status on November 22, 1974. It was the first non-government delegation admitted to a session of the United Nation General Assembly.
Meeting in Algiers, the Palestinian National Council on November 15, 1988, issued the Palestinian Declaration of Independence. The Declaration, written by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish and proclaimed by Yasser Arafat was significant for its definition of an independence state (“The State of Palestine is the state of Palestinians wherever they may be”). Upon completing the reading of the declaration, Arafat, as Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization assumed the title of “President of Palestine.”
Since the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence, the term State of Palestine refers only to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This discrepancy was described by the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas as a negotiated concession in a September 2011 speech to the United Nations.
The Oslo II Accord was officially signed in Taba (in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt) by Israel and the PLO on September 28, 1995. A key and complex agreement in the Israeli–Palestinian Peace process, since the accord, the city of Bethlehem has been administered by the Palestinian National Authority.
|Bethlehem skyline from Church of the Nativity. By Daniel Case – Wikipedia|
The United Nations General Assembly voted to accord non-member observer state status to the State of Palestine on November 29, 2012.