Palestine  officially the State of Palestine is a country in the southern Levant region of West Asia. It encompasses two disconnected territories — the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, collectively known as the Palestinian territories — within the larger region of Palestine. The country shares its borders with Israel to north, west and south, Jordan to the east and Egypt to the southwest. It has a combined land area of 6,020 square kilometres (2,320 sq mi) while its population exceeds five million people. Its proclaimed capital is Jerusalem while Ramallah serves as its administrative center and Gaza City was its largest city until massive population movements began in 2023. Arabic is the official language. The majority of Palestinians practice Islam while Christianity also has a significant presence.

The region of Palestine has played an important part in world history. The Canaanites, Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans and Byzantines all left their mark on the land. In addition to its historical significance, Palestine holds profound religious importance for Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Throughout history the region has experienced periods of coexistence and conflict between different religious and ethnic groups. Notably, during the Middle Ages, when Jewish communities faced persecution, they found refuge and protection under Muslim rule and the wider Islamic world. The Ottoman Empire, which controlled Palestine from the 16th century until its collapse at the end of World War I, provided a sanctuary for Jews fleeing persecution in Europe. The end of the Ottoman rule marked a new chapter in Palestine's history. Following World War I, the British Empire assumed control of the region under the League of Nations mandate. The British Mandate for Palestine, established in 1920, brought significant changes to the political and social landscape of the area, setting the stage for the conflicts and struggles that would follow.

The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 was accompanied by a war which led to the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and created a large refugee population. Subsequent Arab–Israeli wars, including the Six-Day War in 1967, resulted in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. On 15th November 1988, Palestinian National Council, the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) led by Yasser Arafat, declared the establishment of the State. Signing of the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, negotiated between Israel and the PLO, created the Palestinian Authority (PA) to exercise partial control over parts of Palestinian territories. In 2007, internal divisions between Palestinian political factions led to a takeover of the Gaza Strip by Hamas. Since then, the West Bank has been governed in part by the Palestinian Authority, led by Fatah, while the Gaza Strip has remained under the control of Hamas. Israel has built settlements in both of the Palestinian territories since the start of the occupation. The settlements in the Gaza Strip were dismantled in Israel's unilateral disengagement in 2005, and approximately 670,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements in the West Bank. The international community considers Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories illegal under international law, but the Israeli government disputes this.

Currently, the biggest challenges to the country include the Israeli occupation, partial blockade, restrictions on movement, expansion of Israeli settlements and settler violence, as well as an overall poor security situation. Unsolved remain the question of Palestine's borders, the legal and diplomatic status of Jerusalem, and the return of Palestinian refugees. Despite these challenges, the country remains one of the most highly-educated countries in the Arab world, maintains an emerging economy, and sees frequent tourism. As of May 2024, Palestine is recognized as a sovereign state by 145 out of 193 member states of the United Nations. It is also a member of several international organizations, including the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. It has been a non-member observer state of the United Nations since 2012.

Conflict between the Muslims and Byzantines started with the execution of al-Harith bin ‘Umayr Al-Azdi, Muhammad's emissary, triggering battles in retaliation. The Muslim conquest of Palestine was led by the Rashidun Caliphate under Umar ibn al-Khattab in 7th century. The Byzantine Empire lost control over the region after the Battle of the Yarmuk, and Muslim rule was established. Jerusalem was captured by the Muslim forces in 638, and the city became an important center for Islamic worship and administration. After conquest of Jerusalem, Omar visited the city and reportedly made a pact with the Christian inhabitants, guaranteeing their safety and allowing them to continue practicing their religion. Umar also invited Jews, who had been expelled from Jerusalem centuries earlier, to return and settle in the city.

Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem and other parts of Palestine. According to historical records, Jews in Palestine were generally allowed to practice their religion freely under Umar's rule. They were permitted to maintain their synagogues and religious institutions, practice their rituals, and administer their internal affairs. By 8th century, the Abbasid Caliphate, based in Baghdad, replaced the Umayyad Caliphate. The Abbasids ruled over Palestine and much of the Muslim world, bringing cultural and administrative changes. The Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, situated in the Haram al-Sharif compound, remained Islamic landmarks and centers of spiritual and religious activities.

The First Crusade was launched in 1096 with the goal of recapturing the Holy Land from Muslim rule. In 1099, the First Crusade reached Jerusalem, resulting in the establishment of the Crusader states in the region, including the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Crusaders controlled Palestine until the late 12th century. Jerusalem witnessed a violent massacre, with much of the Muslim and Jewish population being killed. Following the capture of Jerusalem, the Crusaders established several Crusader states in the region, including the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the County of Tripoli, and the Principality of Antioch.These states were ruled by European nobles and were characterized by a blend of European and Middle Eastern cultures.

Saladin led a successful campaign against the Crusader states. Jerusalem was recaptured by Muslim forces, marking the end of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1187. During the Battle of Hattin in 1187, where Saladin's forces decisively defeated the Crusader army led by King Guy of Jerusalem. Following the battle, Saladin showed clemency towards the captured Crusader soldiers, including King Guy himself. Instead of seeking revenge or executing them, he chose to demonstrate mercy and generosity. He provided medical care to the wounded Crusader soldiers, ensured their safe passage to Christian-held cities, and even personally sent gifts to King Guy's wife, Queen Sibylla. In 1187, after the fall of Palestine to Saladin's forces, he granted amnesty and protection to its Christian inhabitants. Rather than instituting a massacre or expelling the Christian population, Saladin allowed them to leave peacefully if they could not afford to pay the ransom required for their release.

By 13th century, the Ayyubid dynasty lost control over Palestine to the Khwarazmian Empire, a Turkic dynasty from Central Asia. In 1260, the Mamluk Sultanate, a Turkic-Egyptian dynasty, defeated the Mongol Empire in the Battle of Ain Jalut, securing control over Palestine and Syria. The Mamluk Sultanate successfully repelled the Crusaders' final attempt to regain control, resulting in the fall of the last Crusader stronghold in Acre. The Mamluks maintained authority over Palestine.

By 14th century, the Ottoman Empire took control of the entire region. In 1516, the Ottoman Empire, led by Sultan Selim I, conquered Palestine from the Mamluks, who had ruled the region for several centuries. Under Ottoman rule, Palestine became part of a larger administrative unit known as the Sanjak of Jerusalem, which was initially part of the larger province of Syria. The Sanjak of Jerusalem included areas such as Jerusalem, Nablus, Gaza, and Jaffa.

Under British rule, the history of Palestine witnessed significant political, social, and economic transformations. The British Mandate for Palestine began in 1920 after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The mandate was established under the League of Nations, with the objective of facilitating the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine while protecting the rights of the Arab population.

During the initial years of the mandate, tensions between Jewish and Arab communities emerged. The British faced challenges in balancing the interests and demands of both groups. In 1936, a widespread Arab revolt erupted, demanding an end to Jewish immigration and land sales to Jewish settlers. The revolt was eventually suppressed by the British, leading to increased restrictions on both Arab and Jewish activities. As Jewish immigration continued, especially in the years leading up to and following World War II, the Zionist movement gained momentum. Jewish settlements expanded, and tensions between Jewish and Arab communities escalated. The White Paper was released by the British government, which rejected Peel Commission and proposed a unified Palestine as future country for both Arabs and Jews. As a response and acceptance by Arabs, revolt was ceased. However, the Zionist entity refused to accept the plan and started protesting against the White Paper. Military groups such as Irgun, Stern Gang and Haganah, started preparing for terror attacks. These includes King David Hotel bombing, Deir Yassin massacre and Haifa Oil Refinery massacre.Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir were behind these attacks, who later became political leader of future Israel. The British struggled to maintain control and peace, and in 1947, they decided to withdraw from Palestine.

In November 1988, the PLO legislature, while in exile, declared the establishment of the "State of Palestine". In the month following, it was quickly recognized by many states, including Egypt and Jordan. In the Palestinian Declaration of Independence, the State of Palestine is described as being established on the "Palestinian territory", without explicitly specifying further. After the 1988 Declaration of Independence, the UN General Assembly officially acknowledged the proclamation and decided to use the designation "Palestine" instead of "Palestine Liberation Organization" in the UN. In spite of this decision, the PLO did not participate at the UN in its capacity of the State of Palestine's government.

The State of Palestine has been recognized by 145 of the 193 UN members and since 2012 has had a status of a non-member observer state in the United Nations.

On 29 November 2012, in a 138–9 vote (with 41 abstentions and 5 absences),the United Nations General Assembly passed resolution 67/19, upgrading Palestine from an "observer entity" to a "non-member observer state" within the United Nations System, which was described as recognition of the PLO's sovereignty. Palestine's new status is equivalent to that of the Holy See. The UN has permitted Palestine to title its representative office to the UN as "The Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations", and Palestine has instructed its diplomats to officially represent "The State of Palestine"—no longer the Palestinian National Authority. On 17 December 2012, UN Chief of Protocol Yeocheol Yoon declared that "the designation of 'State of Palestine' shall be used by the Secretariat in all official United Nations documents", thus recognizing the title 'State of Palestine' as the state's official name for all UN purposes; on 21 December 2012, a UN memorandum discussed appropriate terminology to be used following GA 67/19. It was noted therein that there was no legal impediment to using the designation Palestine to refer to the geographical area of the Palestinian territory. At the same time, it was explained that there was also no bar to the continued use of the term "Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem" or such other terminology as might customarily be used by the Assembly. As of 4 April 2024, 140 (72.5%) of the 193 member states of the United Nations have recognized the State of Palestine. Many of the countries that do not recognize the State of Palestine nevertheless recognize the PLO as the "representative of the Palestinian people". The PLO's Executive Committee is empowered by the Palestinian National Council to perform the functions of government of the State of Palestine.

On 2 April 2024, Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, requested that the Security Council consider a renewed application for membership, supported by the 22-nation Arab Group at the United Nations, the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the 120-member Nonaligned Movement. As of April, seven of the council's 15 members recognize the state of Palestine but the US has indicated that it opposes the request and in addition, US law stipulates that US funding for the UN would be cut off in the event of full recognition without an Israeli-Palestinian agreement. On 18 April, the US vetoed a widely supported UN resolution that would have admitted Palestine as a full UN member.

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