Jerusalem is the capital city of Palestine, based in the Middle East (Asia).
Palestine is the region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
The current political system is semi-presidential, and the present President is Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister is Rami Hamdallah.
The original currency was the Ottoman Lira and the Palestine Pound, but this has been superceded by those of the neighbouring countries – Jordanian Dinar, Egyptian Pound and the Israeli new Shekel.
Palestine is currently under occupation by mainly European Jewish settlers, who relocated due to persecution in Christian Europe, and have established in the Palestinian lands, the state of Israel since 1948.
So-called ‘Free’ Palestine is divided into a small geographical area of approx 6220 Km, with a Muslim majority (90-95%) and Christian minority (approx 5-10%), called the West Bank and Gaza strip, and the bigger land area is under Israeli control (which also has significant second class Muslim/Christian Minorities). The state of Palestine, despite the Israeli occupation is still recognised as a distinct entity in its own right.
Free Palestine has a population of approx 4.5 million and sixteen adminstrative districts – Jenin, Tubas, Tulkarm, Nablus, Qalqiliya, Salfit, Ramallah Al-Bireh, Jericho Al Aghwar, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, North Gaza, Gaza, Deir Al-Balah, Khan Yunis and Rafah. There is a full infrastructure of the police, communication, transportation, water, sanitation, electricity, judiciary, media, health, sports and education, but this is regularly destroyed by the Israeli army and needs to be rebuilt constantly.
However, Israel controls most of the military and economic aspects of Palestine as well as entry/exit, therefore stunting any development or free movement.
Approx 4.5 million tourists visit the small country annually.
Palestine has a high literacy rate of over 97%.
Islam came to the region during the 7th century at the time of the second caliph, Hazrat Umar ibn Al-Khattab, replacing the rule of the Byzantine Romans and Christianity as the major faith over time. The Covenant of Umar (Umariyya Convenant) guaranteed religious freedom and tolerance for all of the Abrahamic faiths.
The early period led to good societal relationships between Muslims, Jews and Christians, where each flourished, coexisted and even served as ministers in many of the Muslim majority governments of the Caliphs.
During the Fatimid rule of Palestine, the Byzantines continuously attempted to re-conquer Jerusalem, which led to the Christian Crusades over many decades.
The First Christian Crusade in 1099, led by the Roman Catholic Church, managed to reconquer Jerusalem – known as the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Christians converted the Dome of the Rock into the the Templum Domini (Shrine of the Lord) and the Al-Aqsa mosque into the Hall of Soloman. Many Muslim and Jewish citizens were killed during this era.
In 1187, the famous Salahuddin Ayyubi regained Jerusalem in the battle of Hattin.
The Third Christian Crusade, led by Richard the Lionheart of England reconquered many cities within Palestine and led to deaths of many Muslims. Eventually, the treaty of Ramla was signed in 1192 by King Richard and Salahuddin.
The muslim Mamluks ruled Palestine from 1291-1516, with headquarters in Damascus, and brought great economic prosperity to the region. They developed schools, colleges, hospitals, mosques and buildings.
After 1516, the Muslim Ottomans regained leadership of the region until 1917, although there was a temporary revolt of Ibrahim Pasha from the Egyptian area in 1834 giving him some autonomy, before there was a mass influx of the European nations.
For a short period, the Ottomans and Europeans existed side by side in different regions, until the British conquered Palestine in 1917. Palestine then existed as a single unified entity until 1948 under British administration, after which it was invaded and partially occupied by Jewish refugees.
The British period of rule was active with many Muslim uprisings to reclaim control of their lands. The British helped to create the Arab led Supreme Muslim Council, and appointed Arabs such as Haj Amin al-Husseini as the Mufti of Jerusalem to counteract the Ottomans, whilst the Arabs later became aware of the Zionist threat to take over Palestine.
However, prior to the end of the British mandate in 1948, the state of Israel was created within the terrioritory of Palestine led by David Ben-Gurion, against the will of the majority of the indigeneous Muslim and Christian populations. The new state was supported over time with refugees arriving from Europe due to persecution under Germany’s Adolf Hitler. Unfortunately, the Palestinians paid the price of losing their ancestoral land, which acted as a safe haven for incoming refugees, due to the actions of Europeans against the Jewish people in another continent.
Despite attempts by the weaker neighbouring Arabs to regain their lost Palestinian territories, they were inferior both militarily and politically to the stronger USA/UK backed Israeli occupiers. The new Israeli state, was supported economically, politically and militarily by the strong powerful Jewish communities from the USA, Europe and Russia who had large resources, influence and high motivation to occupy and expand their illegally gained territories.
Many Palestinians have either been expelled, persecuted or been forced to migrate abroad systematically over decades since 1948, and their lands taken over by Israelis.
Despite the evictions, the overall population ratio of Muslim:Jewish remains similar. However, the likelihood of a two state solution is low due to the regular expansion of Israeli territories into Palestinian areas, and the chance of a single unified state is unlikely as the Israelis would like to keep it Jewish only.
Peace in the short term looks unlikely as there are no neutral objective arbitrators – the USA/UK/France are pro-Israeli, Russia/China are not directly involved nor interested, whilst most Muslim leaders are too embroiled in their own internal problems whilst the Arabs are too divided. Consequently, Palestinians do not have strong active supporters from the stronger nations. Turkey under Erdagon has recently shown some interest but there is no clear pathway for them to mediate or intercede. Israel would be happy with the status quo as it gives them the permanent upper hand, whilst they systematically continue their expansion and occupation programme, with regular eviction of Palestinians from their areas on a yearly basis.
Despite the human rights violations and injustices against the Palestinians there are no powerful bodies or countries willing to physically protect them, despite the majority of the world supporting them verbally. It seems to be another living injustice just like the removal of the native americans and aborigines from their territories.
The Palestinian lands are fertile and geographical area is centrally located in renowned historical areas for the Abrahamic faiths.
The languages spoken are mainly Arabic as well as Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic-Syriac, Coptic, Berber.
- Maqam al-Nabi Yamin
- Maqam al-Nabi Musa
- Maqam al-Rubin
- Mosque of Umar
- Temple Mount
- Dome of the Rock
- Masjid Al-Aqsa
- Al-Khanqah Al-Salahiyya
Many of the worlds famous places and beautiful landscapes will be denied sadly to many people due to travel restrictions, and the ongoing conflict.
Dr Ghulam S Ashraf is a Content Writer for www.mullk.com