The term Palestine has a number of meanings. Historically the area is mentioned in Egyptian records as Phyllistinia (meaning migratory) for the Philistines, an Aegean people that could be found there around 1200 BCE. Herodutus in the 5th century BCE referred to it as Syrius Phylistina and the Roman name for the area, Provincia Syrius Philistina was meant to insult the Jews after the 135 CE revolt of Bar Kochba, by using the name of their historical enemies, the Philistines, to rename the country of Judea.
In contemporary terms, "Palestinian" denotes a community of Muslim and Christian Arabs who live in the West Bank, Gaza, refugee camps in some Middle Eastern nations, and in a global diaspora. These people see territory that currently makes up the state of Israel and lands occupied or controlled by Israel--the West Bank and Gaza--as their homeland.
The Palestinian Authority is a proto-national political/administrative entity that exercises limited sovereignty over territory under Israeli military control. Gaza is completely controlled by Hamas, who took power in a coup against the Palestinian Authority when Israel unilaterally withdrew from the area, leaving behind the settlements and infrastructure built by them. Unfortunately, in the first rush of jubilation over the Israeli withdrawal, much of this infrastructure  was destroyed by the residents of Gaza, including synagogues. However, while Gaza is completely under the control of Hamas with no Israeli presence, access to Gaza is subject to Israeli control and an Israeli blockade of their airspace, land borders and coast line. An independent State of Palestine was declared in exile at Algiers on 15 November 1988. This state has not been recognised by Israel, the US, and several other countries; it has however been recognised by 130 states, which equal 67% of the UN membership, and which amount to 80% of the world population..
In historical terms, Palestine was a small territory in the Middle East, on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Under the Roman Emperor Hadrian, most of the Jewish people were expelled for the last in a long series of failed rebellions against Rome. A small number returned to Jerusalem, where they remained for centuries. Arabs settled in the land after the Jewish expulsion. The area is holy to the three Abrahamaic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, creating a source of conflict, notably in the Crusades. Following centuries of persecution, from discrimination to pogroms, European Jews began to buy land and settle in Palestine, starting in 1881, known as the Aliyah, or "ascent" in Hebrew. Some of this land had been stolen by the ruling Ottoman Turks from Palestinians, and the influx of Jewish settlers regardless were viewed by the Palestinians with suspicion, fear or anger. During World War 1, the British and Ottoman Empires were opponents. As part of their fight, the British sought the help of Arabs under the Ottoman rule, including the Palestinians, making promises of a free and independent country for them. Similarly, they made promises for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Neither of these promises were fulfilled, as when the Allies won the war, Britain was given a Mandate over Palestine by the League of Nations. Both the Palestinians and Jews were not pleased by this, understandably. A greater wave of Jewish refugees started in the 1920s and 30s, with anti-semitism rising in Europe during the days when the Nazis were coming to power. The opposition by Palestinians grew more violent, with attacks on Jews, many of whom responded in kind. Some of the Jews sought to overthrow the British Mandate government in Palestine and create an independent Jewish state. The British began to intern Jewish refugees rather than allowing them into Palestine, causing further anger. Shortly after World War 2, the United Nations, which succeeded the League, voted to create the state of Israel in much of the land. A majority of former Mandate territory (including more than historic Palestine) was made into the Kingdom of Jordan. The declaration was celebrated by Jews worldwide in jubilation, but the Palestinians and Arab countries refused to accept the partition, partly as they felt the division was manifestly unequal (Israel had been given an amount of land higher than its share of population). This effectively destroyed the hope for a two state solution at that stage, as the Arabs refused to recognize a Jewish state. As the State of Israel was declared, five Arab armies, supported by two other Arab countries, launched an attack which resulted in the planned borders from the partition plan being discarded, whatever their merits or lack thereof. Most of the land intended for the Palestinian state was taken by Israel, while the rest ended up under Jordan (the West Bank), Egypt (Gaza), or Syria (the Golan Heights) until the 1967 Six-Day War, after which the Israelis occupied all of this as well. (Gaza was relinquished to Palestinian rule in 2005, over massive protest from Jewish settlers in the area). Most Palestinians fled or were driven out (which happened, and to what degree, is highly controversial), to neighboring Arab countries, where many remain in refugee camps to this day. Jews of the neighboring Arab countries were attacked and driven out in retaliation, fleeing to Israel where they formed an intransigent nationalist segment of the population.
 Israeli-Palestinian conflict
While the Israeli experiment has been largely successful as a refuge and nation for Jews, there still remain some "issues" regarding the mostly Muslim Palestinian Arabs who were expelled in 1948 and are now refugees, those who remained within Israel proper that live as full citizens of Israel with equal rights, albeit a restricted ability to reunite with relatives outside, and those who found themselves militarily occupied in 1967.
Israel finds itself, to this day, racked with internal strife, as Palestinian militant organizations continue to resist Israeli settlement of the West Bank accompanied by the expulsion of the Palestinians whose houses are demolished, and to seek a redressment for what they consider and call "the Catastrophe" (an-Nakba) of the loss of their homes in what is now Israeli territory.
Unfortunately, no lasting solution has yet been found to the conflict, as, on the one hand, many Palestinian militants identify not only Israel as their enemy, but the Jews in general as well, and, on the other, the state of Israel continues its policy of the illegal occupation and settlement of land seized by force. A major obstacle to peace has been the take over of Gaza by Hamas. Hamas is designated as a terrorist organisation by the USA, UK, EU, Canada and Japan; Russia, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey (along with Arab countries) do not so designate it. Central to the allegations of Hamas not being a possible peace partner is their 1988 charter which does not recognize any peace agreements with Israel, quotes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (a well known anti-Semitic forgery put out by the Czarist government in Russia) and calls for the killing of all the Jews in the region. While Hamas claim their charter is no longer relevant, the countries viewing Hamas as a terrorist organisation state that until it is officially amended it has to be taken into consideration. Fingers crossed, though.
As of 2011, there has been a major push within the mainstream Palestinian factions to gain international recognition as a separate entity from Israel, with the notion being that they could then get statehood assigned in a fashion similar to how Israel was founded. This was epitomized by Palestinian entry into the United Nations' UNESCO organization. This has been extremely controversial as it has been opposed by the US and EU as being counter-productive to finding a peaceful solution to the crisis. As a result of the UNESCO vote, the USA has stopped all contributions and donations to UNESCO. Another issue that has not been addressed and seems to be ignored by those supporting the Palestinian bid is the stated intention of the Palestinian Authority to expel all Jews from areas they gain control of, regardless of how long or the historical connection such communties might have, including ancient Jewish communities in cities like Hebron and Bethlehem. 
- Ilan Pappe. 2006. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Oxford: Oneworld. ISBN 978-1-85168-555-4.
- Tom Segev. 1999. One Palestine Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 978-0-8050-6587-3.
- ↑ http://articles.latimes.com/2005/sep/14/world/fg-gaza14
- ↑ http://www.haaretz.com/news/palestinians-torch-synagogues-in-former-gaza-settlements-1.169372
- ↑ International recognition of the State of Palestine
- ↑ http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/www.thejerusalemfund.org/carryover/documents/charter.html
- ↑ Mahmoud Abbas raises Palestinian flag at UNESCO
- ↑ http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/unesco-votes-to-admit-palestine-over-us-objections/2011/10/31/gIQAMleYZM_story.html
- ↑ http://internationalopinion.com/id305.html
- ↑ http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/plo-official-palestinians-israelis-must-be-totally-separated-1.384493
- ↑ http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2011/08/12/ethnic-cleansing-jews-abbas/