What is Palestine?

The confusion as concerns "Palestine" is that it refers to two separate things.

Definition 1

The British Mandate of Palestine covered all areas between Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. It was a relatively small territory that was also bounded by the Mediterranean Sea in the northwest and has access to the Gulf of Aqabah in the south.

Definition 2

The current country of Palestine, which is ruled by the Palestinian Authority, is de jure (this means by law) a small grouping of city-states in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. De facto (this means in reality) the Palestinian Authority, the internationally recognized leadership of Palestine, has lost control of the Gaza Strip to Hamas as of the Summer of 2006.

Most Palestinians want a united country (that is to say that Gaza and the West Bank would become one nation, even though they are bifurcated) and many are willing to settle with Israel to create reasonable borders. On the same note, many Israelis feel the same way. The issue in both camps is that extremists routinely advocate the all-or-nothing solution and use maps of the British Mandate of Palestine to represent their side's ideal outcome.

Additional Discussion

This use of the Mandate-Map by extremist Palestinian organizations and by many in the Arab World has led to much confusion concerning the actual territories under Palestinian control and the territories which are being negotiated between Israel and Palestine for a future solution.

There are those who would prefer to not believe that there is a current recognized Palestinian government. However, almost every major international forum recognizes the Palestinian Authority as the governing authority with whom Israel must negotiate a Palestinian future. Israel has also recognized the role of the Palestinian Authority by way of the Oslo Accords in 1993.