Palestine (Arabic: فلسطين Filasṭīn, Falasṭīn, Filisṭīn; Greek: Παλαιστίνη, Palaistinē; Latin: Palaestina; Hebrew: פלשתינה Palestina) is a conventional name, among others, for the geographic region in Western Asia between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands.The region is also known as the Land of Israel (Hebrew: ארץ־ישראל Eretz-Yisra’el), the Holy Land, the Southern Levant, Cisjordan, and historically has been known by other names including Canaan, Southern Syria and Jerusalem.
The boundaries of the region have changed throughout history, and were last defined in modern times by the Franco-British boundary agreement (1920) and the Transjordan memorandum of 16 September 1922, during the mandate period. Today, the region comprises the State of Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The region was among the earliest in the world to see human habitation, agricultural communities and civilization. During the Bronze Age, independent Canaanite city-states were established, and were influenced by the surrounding civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Minoan Crete, and Syria. Between 1550–1400 BCE, the Canaanite cities became vassals to the Egyptian New Kingdom who held power until the 1178 BCE Battle of Djahy (Canaan) during the wider Bronze Age collapse. The Philistines arrived and mingled with the local population, and according to Biblical tradition, the United Kingdom of Israel was established in 1020 BCE and split within a century to form the northern Kingdom of Israel, and the southern Kingdom of Judah. The region became part of the Neo-Assyrian Empire from c.740 BCE, which was itself replaced by the Neo-Babylonian Empire in c.627 BCE. According to the Bible, a war with Egypt culminated in 586 BCE when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II and the local leaders of the region of Judea were deported to Babylonia. In 539 BCE, the Babylonian empire was replaced by the Achaemenid Empire. According to the bible and implications from the Cyrus Cylinder, the exiled population of Judea was allowed to return to Jerusalem.
In the 330s BCE, Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great conquered the region, and the region changed hands numerous times during the wars of the Diadochi. ultimately joining the Seleucid Empire between 219–200 BCE. In 116 BCE, a Seleucid civil war resulted in the independence of certain regions including the minor Hasmonean principality in the Judean Mountains. From 110 BCE, the Hasmoneans extended their authority over much of Palestine, creating a Judean-Samaritan-Idumaean-Ituraean-Galilean alliance. The Judean control over the wider region resulted in its also becoming known as Judaea, a term which had previously only referred to the smaller region of the Judean Mountains. Between 73-63 BCE, the Roman Republic extended its influence in to the region in the Third Mithridatic War, conquering of Judea in 63 BCE, and splitting the former Hasmonean Kingdom into five districts. The three-year Ministry of Jesus, culminating in his crucifixion, is estimated to have occurred from 28–30 CE, although the historicity of Jesus is disputed by scholars. In 70 CE, Titus sacked Jerusalem, resulting in the dispersal of the city’s Jews and Christians to Yavne and Pella. In 132 CE, Hadrian joined the province of Iudaea with Galilee to form new province of Syria Palaestina, and Jerusalem was renamed “Aelia Capitolina”. Between 259–272, the region fell under the rule of Odaenathus as King of the Palmyrene Empire. Following the victory of Christian emperor Constantine in the Civil Wars of the Tetrarchy (306–324), the Christianization of the Roman Empire began, and in 326, Constantine’s mother Saint Helena visited Jerusalem and began the construction of churches and shrines. Palestine became a center of Christianity, attracting numerous monks and religious scholars. The Samaritan Revolts during this period caused their near extinction. In 614 CE, Palestine was annexed by another Persian dynasty; the Sassanids, until returning to Byzantine control in 628 CE.
1830, on the eve of Muhammad Ali’s invasion, the Ottoman Porte transferred control of the sanjaks of Jerusalem and Nablus to Abdullah Pasha, the governor of Acre. According to Silverburg, in regional and cultural terms this move was important for creating an Arab Palestine detached from Syria (bilad al-Shams). According to Pappe, it was an attempt to reinforce the Syrian front in face of Muhammad Ali’s invasion.Two years later, in 1832, Palestine was conquered by Muhammad Ali’s Egypt, but in 1840, Britain intervened and returned control of the Levant to the Ottomans in return for further capitulations. The end of the 19th century saw the beginning of Zionist immigration and the Revival of the Hebrew language. The movement was publicly supported by Great Britain during World War I with the Balfour Declaration of 1917.
The British began their Sinai and Palestine Campaign in 1915. The war reached southern Palestine in 1917, progressing to Gaza and around Jerusalem by the end of the year.
The British secured Jerusalem in December 1917. The British moved into the Jordan valley in 1918 and a campaign by the Entente into northern Palestine led to victory at Megiddo in September.
The British were formally awarded the mandate to govern the region in 1922. The non-Jewish Palestinians revolted in 1920, 1929 and 1936. In 1947, following World War II and the Holocaust, the British Government announced its desire to terminate the Mandate, and the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending partition into an Arab state, a Jewish state and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem. The Jewish leadership accepted the proposal, but the Arab Higher Committee rejected it; a civil war began immediately, and the establishment of the State of Israel was declared in 1948.
Following what is known as the 1948 Palestinian exodus, the 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were driven from their homes were unable to return following the Lausanne Conference, 1949. In the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Israel captured and incorporated a further 26% of the Mandate territory, Jordan captured the region today known as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was captured by Egypt. In the course of the Six Day War in June 1967, Israel captured the rest of Mandate Palestine from Jordan and Egypt, and began a policy of Israeli settlements. From 1987 to 1993, the First Palestinian Intifada against Israel took place, which included the Declaration of the State of Palestine in 1988 and ended with the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords. In 2000, the Second or Al-Aqsa Intifada began, and Israel built a security barrier. Following Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan of 2004, it withdrew all settlers and most of the military presence from the Gaza strip, but maintained control of the air space and coast. In 2012, the State of Palestine replaced the PLO as UN observer following United Nations General Assembly resolution 67/19.
In late 2012, a donation of $21.6 million was announced by the Government of the Netherlands—the Dutch government stated that the funds would be provided to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), for the specific benefit of Palestinian children. An article, published by the UN News website, stated that: “Of the $21.6 million, $5.7 will be allocated to UNRWA’s 2012 Emergency Appeal for the occupied Palestinian territory, which will support programmes in the West Bank and Gaza aiming to mitigate the effects on refugees of the deteriorating situation they face.”
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