The Palestinian population of around ten or eleven million people is divided between historic Palestine and a diaspora, mainly in neighbouring Arab countries.
Efforts to create a Palestinian state on the West Bank of the River Jordan and Gaza on the Mediterranean coast have been frustrated by the continuing conflict with Israel and disputes over the status of diaspora Palestinians.
The war that followed Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948 saw the former British mandate of Palestine partitioned between Israel, Trans-Jordan and Egypt.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were forced out of their native land during the war, in what they call the “Nakba” or “Catastrophe”.
- West Bank and Gaza
The demand of these refugees and their descendants to return to their former homes remains one of the most fiercely debated aspects of the dispute with Israel.
- The Palestinian national movement gradually regrouped in the West Bank and Gaza, run respectively by Jordan and Egypt, and in refugee camps in neighbouring Arab states.
- The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) emerged as its leading umbrella group shortly before the Six-Day War of 1967, during which Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, and conducted a protracted campaign of violence against Israel.