The State of Palestine (Arabic: دولة فلسطين‎ - “Daulyat Filastin”) is a de jure independent, partially recognized state in the Middle East, which is in the process of creation. As of the end of July 2019, the independence of the State of Palestine was recognized by 138 of the 193 UN member states.

The state was named after Palestine Syria, a province of the Roman Empire formerly called Judea and renamed by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 135 AD. e. in order to erase the memory of the Kingdom of Judah after the suppression of the Jewish uprising against Rome. “Palaestina” (the Latin version of the Greek name for Palestine) comes from “Philistia” (Hebrew ארץ פלשת‎, [Eretz-Peleshet]) - the name of the part of the Mediterranean coast of present-day Israel inhabited in ancient times by the Philistines. The Philistines, who participated in the movement of the “Sea Peoples”, at the very beginning of the 13th century BC. e. settled on the fertile coastal strip of Canaan - the Sharon Lowland. Their ethnicity and language are unknown, but they may have been related to the earliest pre-Indo-European populations of the Balkans and Asia Minor.

The formation of a Palestinian state is envisaged in accordance with UN decisions in the West Bank (or part of it, including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. There are different proposals for its creation depending on the opinion of Palestinian statehood, as well as different definitions of it as a territory.

The declaration of the State of Palestine took place on November 15, 1988 in Algiers at a session of the Palestinian National Council, the highest deliberative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), with 253 votes in favor, 46 against, and 10 abstaining from voting. However, the PLO did not control any territory it claimed.

In 1994, as a result of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO of September 13, 1993, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) was created. The issue of creating a future state was not covered by the Agreements; however, “both sides made a specific commitment not to take any unilateral action to change the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

De facto, the State of Palestine has not been created to this day and does not have real sovereignty. State structures are only partially formed. The temporary capital, Ramallah, is home to the president, government and parliament. However, the state does not have an army, although there is a police force and paramilitary organizations are active. It does not have its own currency; the Israeli shekel and the US dollar are used as monetary units. Palestine does not have an operating international airport, so Palestinian government leaders use the airport in the Jordanian capital, Amman, to fly to other countries.

Much of the West Bank is controlled by the Israeli army, and east Jerusalem (and the city as a whole) is also under Israeli control. Israel also controls almost all the borders of the Palestinian territories, with the exception of the border of the Gaza Strip with Egypt, but at the same time prevents sea communication between the Gaza Strip and the outside world. The Palestinian territories, despite the existence of partial Palestinian governance there, are considered by the UN - including the Gaza Strip - to be occupied by Israel. Representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization call Palestine “a country under Israeli occupation.” The Gaza Strip and the West Bank are two exclaves separated by Israeli territory, the first controlled by supporters of Hamas, designated a terrorist organization in several countries, and the second by supporters of Fatah, the organization that forms the basis of the PLO. After a long conflict and attempts at resolution, on July 2, 2014, Hamas and Fatah, with the participation of five Christian ministers, formed a government of national unity, which was sworn in by President Abbas. This government lasted until early 2019 and resigned due to unresolved disputes between Fatah and Hamas, as a result of which the government had no control over the Gaza Strip.

On November 29, 2012, following a vote in the UN General Assembly (138 votes in favor, 9 against, 41 countries abstained) “granted Palestine the status of an observer state with the United Nations that is not a member, without prejudice to the acquired rights , privileges and role of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the United Nations as the representative of the Palestinian people in accordance with relevant resolutions and practice."

On January 5, 2013, a decree was issued by PNA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, ordering that henceforth, instead of the name “Palestinian National Authority,” the name “State of Palestine” be used exclusively for official purposes. As of January 2019, a number of countries, in particular: Israel, Spain, Norway, the USA, Sweden and some others, did not recognize this decision.

In countries that have already recognized the State of Palestine, diplomatic missions of the PLO operate under the guise of embassies of the State of Palestine.



The Palestinian Territories consist of two non-contiguous regions: the smaller area is that of the Gaza Strip, a densely populated stretch of coast between southern Israel and Egypt's Sinai. The region with the larger area is the West Bank, sometimes called the West Bank, further to the east and north-east, which lies between Israel and Jordan; the Jordan and the Dead Sea form the eastern border of this area.



Palestine, the subject of constant controversy and at the heart of the Middle East conflict, is home to some of the most important historical monuments and shrines of several religions. Here you follow in the footsteps of millions of pilgrims, stand on land that has seen some of the most significant battles of all time, and visit some of the world's most important biblical and historical sites.

Known as the birthplace of Christ, the town of Bethlehem is a must-see for almost everyone visiting the Palestinian Territories. The Basilica of the Nativity, built over the cave where - according to tradition - Jesus of Nazareth was born, is a shrine for both Christians and Muslims. From here it's a short walk to the Shepherds' Field, where the birth of the divine baby is believed to have been announced to the shepherds when they saw the Christmas star. Linger at the famous Manger Square or head to Solomon's Pools, a few kilometers outside the city. And finally, visit the green Cremisan Valley and taste the local monastery wine. Near Bethlehem are the Monastery of Saint Sava (Mar Saba), one of the oldest (if not the oldest) Christian monastery in the world, as well as Herodion - the ruins of the palace of King Herod.

If Bethlehem is known as the birthplace, Hebron is known as the burial place of great patriarchs and matriarchs. In this city, revered by both Muslims and Jews, is the Cave of the Patriarchs (Machpelah). It was once the capital of the Kingdom of Israel. Hebron, a pleasant old town with many winding streets and lively bazaars, is famous among the local population for its pottery workshops and glass blowers, thanks to which you can see excellent examples of the creativity of Palestinian craftsmen.

The ancient city of Jericho is said to be among the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities, as well as the lowest located (260 m below sea level), and has a number of attractions. Tel al-Sultan (ancient Jericho) is the main archaeological site in the city. Admire the mosaic floors of the ruins of Hasham's Palace, a sumptuous 7th-century caliphic complex, and don't miss the Orthodox Monastery of Temptation, where Jesus Christ is said to have fasted for 40 days in a cave.

The northern Palestinian territories are dominated by picturesque, hilly landscapes and green valleys dotted with olive trees and villages. The ancient town of Nablus is worth a visit. Stroll through the narrow, winding streets and colorful oriental bazaar, visit a soap factory or wash yourself in the old Turkish baths. Climb Mount Gerizim on the outskirts of Nablus for stunning views of the city. At its top you can also see one of the few surviving Samaritan settlements and their temple. Next door to Nablus is the village of Sevastia, where there are impressive Roman ruins.

Last but not least are the attractions of East Jerusalem. Despite Israeli occupation, Palestinians consider this part of Jerusalem their capital and the UN as Palestinian territory. In any case, it is here that some of the region's most important attractions are located, in particular the walled Old City of Jerusalem. A site of great religious significance, with stories of crusaders, sieges, conquests and recaptures retold around the world, this ancient city is sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Here you find yourself at the historical site where Jesus of Nazareth was crucified. Visit the Temple Mount, where the Al-Aqsa Mosque shines with a silver dome and the Dome of the Rock shines with gold. Join Christian pilgrims at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Watch Jewish pilgrims hide prayer notes in the cracks of the Western Wall. Perhaps nowhere else in the world will you find so many amazing sights gathered in one place in such a small area.


Getting there

A passport that is still valid for at least six months is required for entry. A visa does not need to be applied for. Entry and exit to the West Bank is only possible through Israeli-controlled entry/exit points. Experience has shown that Palestine is cordoned off and entry/exit points are closed on high Jewish holidays. Armed clashes may break out at checkpoints controlled by Israel. The checkpoint Qalandia (31° 51′ 42″ N 35° 13′ 41″ E), located between Jerusalem and Ramallah, is particularly affected.

Tourist entry into the Gaza Strip has not been possible since 2014.

Foreign exchange regulations
The import or export of funds (cash, cashier's checks, traveler's cheques) with a total value of 80,000 shekels must be declared. The relevant “Customs Form No. 84” can be requested by calling +972-2-658 7777.

By plane
Arriving by plane will therefore (have to) usually be via Israel's Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv or another Israeli airport, but travelers to the West Bank also often use Amman Airport (Jordan) and travel from Jordan via the Allenby bridge into the West Bank.

The Israeli air force has bombed the EU-financed Gaza airport. It is still closed in 2019.

By train
There are no rail connections to the Palestinian territories.

By bus
There are regular buses to Palestine from the bus station at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. Getting to Bethlehem or other areas is easy and cheap.

In the street
If the authorities allow it, entry from Israel is possible. From the West Bank there is a border crossing to Jordan (King Hussein/Allenby Bridge), from the Gaza Strip there is also a crossing to Egypt.

Egypt has now reopened its border with the Gaza Strip. However, only Palestinians (and diplomats, etc.) are allowed to enter and exit via this border crossing. Therefore, foreigners only have the checkpoint in Erez - but this requires a special permit, which is very difficult to obtain.

With an Israeli rental car, visiting these cities, which are located in the so-called A and B areas, is generally not permitted. It is theoretically possible to drive around Palestine in an Israeli rental car, but not a good idea. Burnt-out cars with Israeli license plates can often be seen. It is better to enter by bus from Israel and then take a taxi and arrange a flat rate that can be paid in shekels, Jordanian dinars or US$. A full day tour of Palestine is possible for $50 and the taxi driver knows interesting places.

By boat
Entry by ship is currently not possible because the Gaza Strip has been sealed off by an Israeli naval blockade for years.



Public transport consists mainly of (modern) VW minibuses and some larger buses. The minibuses, called Servis, leave as soon as they are full (each seat occupied by one person) and are not "packed" too full and there are so many that you never have to wait too long. The driving style is also rather defensive, since the country is quite hilly and winding on the one hand, and on the other hand the many checkpoints impede traffic.

An alternative is a taxi, where you absolutely have to negotiate a flat rate beforehand. If you hire the taxi for the whole day, $100 should be enough, maybe half if you're good at negotiating.



A local dialect of Arabic is spoken. The Jewish settlers usually speak Hebrew or Russian. At the tourist attractions you will mostly find people who speak English.



As everywhere in the region, the "weekend" is primarily based on the religion of the business owner. Day off can be Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Opening hours are usually 8am-1pm and 4pm-7pm or later.

There is little to buy that is of interest to the tourist. The usual souvenirs can be found right next to the tourist attractions.



The food hardly differs from that of other countries in the Middle East, such as e.g. B. Lebanon.


Public holidays

Holidays are Jan 1: New Years Day, May 1: Labor Day, the "Independence Day:" Nov 15, and Christmas only on Dec 25.

There are also the movable Muslim Ras as-Sana (July 19, 2023), Islamic New Year on 1 Muharram. Isra and Mi'raj is the "ascension of Muhammad," in which the mosque in Jerusalem is central. First (March 22, 2023) and last (April 21, 2023) day of the fasting month of Ramadan, i.e. Beginning of Eid al-Fitr, on 1 Shawwal (April 22, 2023) - two to four day festival of breaking the fast. Four-day Islamic Festival of Sacrifice (ʿĪd al-Aḍḥā) beginning on 10 Dhū al-Ḥidjah (28 June 2023). Birthday (mulid/maulid) of the Prophet Muhammad on 12 Rabi' al-auwal (September 27, 2023).



Police: ☎ 100
Emergency doctor: ☎ 101
Fire brigade: ☎ 102

As a tourist, you don't automatically live dangerously in Palestine. Arabs (or those who look like them) are generally checked more closely, a German passport means that there are often no checks of any kind. If the accompanying taxi driver is wearing a camera of the German and you say so during the check, then he will not be checked either. Of course, this does not always have to be the case, but it shows that the needs of tourists are given priority.

Larger crowds of people, especially demonstrations, should be avoided in any case, as these often become violent and the law enforcement officers then use firearms. Armed attacks by the Israeli army can also occur at any time. The houses and livelihoods (e.g. olive groves) of entire families are often destroyed, provided that only one family member is suspected of anti-Israeli activities. Court orders or convictions are not a requirement.



The climate is no different from that in Israel.


Practical hints

Consulates of European countries, usually called “representative offices”, are in Ramallah.

What was said about Israel applies to post and telecommunications. General experience shows that parcels from abroad to the occupied territories take longer to travel than to Israel.



The West Bank was divided into three zones (A: 18 percent, B: 20 percent and C: 62 percent of the West Bank area) as a result of the 1995 Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in which the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Israeli military each have different powers. The A areas were placed under PA control and consist of the larger cities. The B areas are primarily made up of rural communities and villages. Here the Palestinians have administrative control and Israel has security control. Area C is under Israeli control both civilly and for security purposes and consists primarily of sparsely populated areas, Palestinian villages and Israeli settlements.

The autonomous areas consist of several settlement areas in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, separated from each other by Area C. In addition to Israel and Israeli-occupied areas of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip borders Egypt and the Mediterranean. The interim agreement provides for the areas of Area C to be gradually transferred to Palestinian autonomy, with exceptions still to be negotiated. An agreement on the final status and the allocation of the area has not yet been reached. Largely within Area C, Israel has built a fortified perimeter.



The Palestinian Autonomous Territories are located on parts of the former mandated territory of Western Palestine, which, like East Palestine (now Jordan), was under British mandate administration after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The conditions of the mandate included that the British should enable the implementation of the Balfour Declaration, in which they had promised on November 2, 1917, "the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people" in the territory of Palestine (i.e. Israel, Palestinian Autonomous Territories and Jordan). In 1922, the British Mandate of East Palestine was separated from the territory of Palestine as the national homeland for a Jewish state to form the Kingdom of Jordan, at the instigation of Great Britain.

On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly voted by a two-thirds majority in favor of the partition plan proposed by UNSCOP, which would divide Western Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. Another 40 percent of the area of the National Home for a Jewish State was to be separated.

With the aim of actually establishing an independent Jewish state and creating a home for the survivors of the Holocaust and the Jewish diaspora, large parts of the Jewish population and the Jewish Agency accepted the partition plan. However, radical nationalists such as Menachem Begin (Irgun) and Yitzhak Shamir (Lechi) rejected the plan.

Arab leaders also rejected the plan. In addition to the general rejection of a Jewish state, this was done on the grounds that the plan violated the rights of the majority population in Palestine, 67 percent of whom at that time belonged to non-Jewish religions. At the end of 1946, Palestine had almost 2 million inhabitants, of which only around 603,000 were Jews. They found the plan a disaster. The amount and quality of the land allocated to the Jews was criticized. In the period that followed, there were numerous attacks and attacks by irregular Jewish and Arab forces in the mandated area.

Due to the civil war-like conditions, the British wanted to withdraw their troops and relinquish the mandate for Palestine on May 14, 1948, a Friday, at midnight. The Jewish National Council met in the house of former mayor Dizengoff in Tel Aviv at 4 p.m. before sunset and thus before the beginning of the Sabbath. Under a portrait of the founder of the Zionist movement, Theodor Herzl, David Ben Gurion announced in the Israeli Declaration of Independence the establishment of the State of Israel "by virtue of the natural and historical right of the Jewish people and on the basis of the decision of the UN General Assembly". Eleven minutes later, the USA recognized the new state, followed by the Soviet Union on May 16th. However, Jerusalem was not accepted as the capital until much later. On the night it was founded, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria declared the coordinated war they had planned in advance on the new state of Israel. This was followed by the Palestine War, which ended in Israel's favor.

After the war, the administration of the territories awarded to the Palestinians by the UN and East Jerusalem remained in the hands of Arab forces and occupying powers, that is, Egypt in the Gaza Strip and Jordan in the West Bank.

After the Six-Day War in 1967, the West Bank and Gaza Strip were captured and occupied by Israeli forces. In addition, East Jerusalem was also conquered and annexed by Israel. As a result, Israel built over 200 settlements in the occupied territories, especially in the West Bank, some at strategically important points, in which 400,000 people now live. While there was some coexistence at first, since the first Intifada the Israeli military built its own road network for these Israeli settlements and established checkpoints.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), unlike the Palestinian Authority, has had observer status at the United Nations since 1974 (UN General Assembly Resolution 3237). Only since July 1998 have Palestinian representatives at the UN had the right to take part in debates.

The Palestinian Territories are a founding member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and are recognized as an official member. The autonomous regions are also members of the Arab League.

The first intifada against Israeli occupation began in December 1987 after a collision between an Israeli military vehicle and two taxis in which four Palestinians died. The idea of a future state of Partal Palestine was first proclaimed on November 14, 1988 by Yasser Arafat in Algiers (Declaration of Algiers) and subsequently recognized by some states, including countries of the former Eastern Bloc and the Non-Aligned States. Most states, however, did not grant Palestine state status, citing the three-element doctrine. For example, even after the Declaration of Algiers, the Higher Administrative Court for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia ruled that there was no state of Palestine due to the lack of a Palestinian national territory, which was already entirely in line with prevailing doctrine and state practice.

In the Oslo peace process, the current statute of autonomy was achieved, which is intended as a preliminary step to a Palestinian state. Which areas of the West Bank, in addition to the areas already under the Palestinian administration, should be added to the future Palestinian state is one of the core questions of the Middle East conflict. One part of the Palestinian Arabs demands the entire West Bank, another part demands all Palestinian autonomous areas including East Jerusalem. Other Palestinians are even demanding the entire land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan, which would amount to the destruction of Israel. Most Israeli policymakers want to keep at least the largest settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The renewed proclamation of the future state to be formed, which was planned for May 4, 1999 as part of the Oslo peace process, was initially postponed to September 13, 2000 and later to mid-November 2000 due to the Israeli election results. It still hasn't happened.

After the situation there became civil war-like since the election of Hamas in the Palestinian autonomous areas, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered negotiations - limited to one year - which would be the basis of his so-called convergence plan. In it, the Palestinians are offered their own state in exchange for, among other things, agreeing to the loss of 5 percent of the West Bank, which has been further solidified by the path of the border system built by Israel. In mid-June 2007, civil war-like conflicts broke out, particularly in the Gaza Strip. As a result, Hamas gained sole control there, while the rival Fatah, to which President Abbas also belongs, dominates in the West Bank. This means that the Palestinian autonomous areas are in fact subject to different political forces in both separate territories.

In the wake of the Arab Spring, there were also demonstrations in the Palestinian territories. On February 8, 2011, the Palestinian Authority surprisingly announced local elections for July 9, which were a year overdue. Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, immediately announced that it would boycott the elections.

Later in the spring, the government controlling the West Bank led by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad resigned, and the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization decided to hold presidential and parliamentary elections by the end of September. At the beginning of May 2011, to the surprise of many, Ismail Haniyya (Hamas) and Mahmoud Abbas (Fatah) signed a reconciliation agreement that the Egyptian leadership had drawn up on behalf of the Arab League a year and a half earlier. Both factions plan to form a joint transitional government before the parliamentary elections. On October 20, 2012, Palestinians - at least some - had the opportunity to vote for the first time since 2006. Due to Hamas' boycott, local elections were not held in the Islamist-held Gaza Strip. In most West Bank constituencies there was no election, only acclamation. Parliamentary elections were scheduled to take place in 2012 but have not yet taken place.

On January 5, 2013, President Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree renaming the Palestinian Authority the “State of Palestine.” On official documents, seals and letterheads of the autonomous authority, the name “Palestinian National Authority” should be replaced by “State of Palestine” and the coat of arms of the State of Palestine should be used. According to the American international law expert John Whitbeck, who has been involved in the Middle East conflict for years, the autonomous authority was absorbed by the institutions of the State of Palestine. However, since the implementation of this plan would have to be approved and supported by Israel, the name change will initially only be carried out by embassies and diplomatic missions abroad.



In diplomatic dealings with the Palestinian government, Germany uses the term Palestinian Territories for the territory of the autonomous authority. However, because the Israeli-occupied areas in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are still viewed by the UN as part of the Palestinian territories, this term also includes areas over which the Palestinian Authority does not exercise direct influence (Zone C, see Geography section). In the official context, Switzerland uses the term Occupied Palestinian Territory. Austria uses the name Palestine.



In 2017, around 4.5 million people lived in the autonomous regions. About 1.80 million of them lived in the Gaza Strip and 2.75 million in the West Bank. In the Gaza Strip, 99 percent were Palestinian Arabs and 1 percent were of an unspecified ethnicity. In the West Bank, 83 percent were Palestinian and other Arabs and 17 percent were Jews and Israelis. The most widely used language is Arabic. A Palestinian dialect of Arabic is spoken, which varies greatly in the individual parts of the country. Hebrew is also spoken and English is understood by many.

The population in the autonomous regions has more than quadrupled since 1950. In 2015, the average age was 19.3 years and fertility per woman was 4.2 children (8 children in 1980). The autonomous territories have one of the youngest and fastest-growing populations in the world, with Gaza's population younger and growing faster than the West Bank. For the year 2050 it is predicted that the population will double again to almost ten million. Since the Autonomous Territories are already one of the most densely populated areas in the world, the continued growth of the population is expected to cause severe social, political and economic problems.

In 2017, 3.8 million people who were born in the autonomous regions no longer lived there. The majority of them live as refugees or migrants in neighboring countries, especially in Jordan.

Life expectancy has increased significantly in recent decades and was 72.9 years between 2010 and 2015 (men: 70.7 years, women: 74.7 years). In Israel, for comparison, it was 81.9 years over the same period.


C areas of the West Bank

In 2012, around 310,000 Jews lived in 124 settlements and around 100 outposts in Area C of the West Bank. In 2014, around 400,000 Jews and around 90,000 Palestinian Arabs lived in Area C. According to the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (Oslo II) of 1993, Israel controls the entire infrastructure here. A data collection published by the Israeli Defense Minister in 2009 shows that in 75 percent of all settlements in the West Bank, construction work was carried out, sometimes to a considerable extent, without permission or even in violation of Israeli regulations. In over 30 settlements, buildings and infrastructure (roads, schools, synagogues, yeshivot and also police stations) were built on private property owned by Palestinians. A collection of facts presented by the Knesset Foreign Policy and Defense Committees at the end of 2014 documented a total of 550 cases of illegal Arab construction work in 2014; In contrast, there were only 150 cases of illegal Jewish construction in the C areas. It was noted that given the smaller proportion of the Arab population in the C areas, the proportion of illegal construction per capita on the Arab side was 16 times higher than on the Jewish side. The reasons given were planning and financing by the European Union and other European countries in coordination with the Palestinian Authority (PA).



While the population (2012) in the Gaza Strip is made up of 99.3 percent Muslims and 0.7 percent Christians, in the West Bank (2012) 80 to 85 percent of the population are Muslims, 12 to 14 percent are Jews and 1 to 2, 5 percent Christians. The vast majority of Muslims in the Palestinian Territories belong to the Sunni faith. The Christian population share has continued to decline significantly for decades, mainly as a result of the growth of the Muslim population; Other reasons cited include repression, discrimination, a falling birth rate and emigration. The dismantling of all Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip was complete in September 2005; Since then there has been no Jewish population there. A few hundred Samaritans still live in Nablus.