The current Palestinian Territories are a sub-division of pre-1948, British Mandatory Palestine. United Nations-projected Arab-held areas of the former Mandate were greatly reduced after the 1948-1949 Israel War of Independence, when the embryonic state of Israel was first attacked by its Arab neighbours, then successfully defeated their armies, leading to a re-drawing of the internationally-recognised borders of Israel. Of course, these hostilities were accompanied by much bloodshed and displacement on both sides, much of the focus being on Palestinian refugees who fled in large numbers to neighbouring Arab countries, or to Gaza and the West Bank. The West Bank and Gaza Strip have been under Israeli occupation since 1967. Prior to that, the West Bank was under Jordanian occupation Jordan annexed the West Bank in 1950 but this was only recognized by themselves and the United Kingdom and the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian control.


The Palestinian territory, in a wider sense and together with Israel, are considered the Holy Land for three of the world's major religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Many sites of religious and archeological significance from the so-called Biblical periods are to be found within the current boundaries of the Palestinian National Authority, most notably Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus and Jericho and of course, East Jerusalem. East Jerusalem is under complete Israeli control and considered by Israel to be part of its state although the annexation of land is considered illegal by the United Nations.