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Palestine (Greek: Παλαιστίνη, Palaistinē; Latin: Palaestina; Hebrew: ארץ־ישראל Eretz-Yisra'el, formerly also פלשת, Peleshet; Arabic: فلسطين Filasṭīn, Falasṭīn, Filisṭīn) is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands.
The boundaries of the region have changed throughout history, and were first defined in modern times by the Franco-British boundary agreement (1920) and the Transjordan memorandum during the British Mandate for Palestine. Today, the region comprises the country of Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Palestine is also used to refer to the State of Palestine which, since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, has referred to a state in the Palestinian territories on 22% of the wider historical region of Palestine. The State of Palestine is recognized today by approximately two-thirds of the world's countries, although this status is not recognized by the United Nations, Israel and major Western nations such as the United States.
Other terms for the same area include Canaan, Zion, the Land of Israel, Syria Palaestina, Southern Syria, Jund Filastin, Outremer, the Holy Land and the Southern Levant.
Situated at a strategic location between Egypt, Syria and Arabia, and the birthplace of the Abrahamic religions, the region has a long and tumultuous history as a crossroads for religion, culture, commerce, and politics. The region has been controlled by numerous different peoples, including Ancient Egyptians, Canaanites, Ancient Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, the Sunni Arab Caliphate, the Shia Fatimid Caliphate, Crusaders, Ayyubids, Mameluks, Ottomans, the British and modern Israelis and Palestinians. Modern archaeologists and historians of the region refer to their field of study as Syro-Palestinian archaeology.
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 BC 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 c740 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, 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 (Jewish, see Ioudaioi) control over the wider region resulted in it 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.
Palestine joined the Islamic Empire following at the 636 CE Battle of Yarmouk during the Muslim conquest of Syria. In 661 CE, with the assassination of Ali, Muawiyah I became the uncontested Caliph of the Islamic World after being crowned in Jerusalem. In 691, the Dome of the Rock became the world's first great work of Islamic architecture. The Umayyad were replaced by the Abbasids in 750. From 878 Palestine was ruled from Egypt by semi-autonomous rulers for almost a century, beginning with Ahmad ibn Tulun, and ending with the Ikhshidid rulers who were both buried in Jerusalem. The Fatimids conquered the region in 969. In 1073 Palestine was captured by the Great Seljuq Empire, only to be recaptured by the Fatimids in 1098, who then lost the region to the Crusaders in 1099. Their control of Jerusalem and most of Palestine lasted almost a century until defeat by Saladin's forces in 1187, after which most of Palestine was controlled by the Ayyubids. A rump crusader state in the northern coastal cities survived for another century, but, despite seven further crusades the crusaders were no longer a significant power in the region. The Mamluk Sultanate was indirectly created in Egypt as a result of the Seventh Crusade. The Mongol Empire reached Palestine for the first time in 1260, beginning with the Mongol raids into Palestine under Nestorian Christian general Kitbuqa and reaching an apex at the pivotal Battle of Ain Jalut. In 1486, hostilities broke out between the Mamluks and the Ottoman Turks in a battle for control over western Asia and the Ottomans captured Palestine in 1516.
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 captured Jerusalem a month later, and were formally awarded a mandate 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 their desire to terminate the Mandate, and the United Nations General Assembly voted to partition the territory into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jewish leadership accepted the proposal but the Arab Higher Committee rejected it; a civil war began immediately, and Israel was declared in 1948. 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, ending 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.