I copied the answer to the question regarding the prior existence of Palestine from http://www.science.com. It represents a point of view favorable to Israel but it is also factually accurate. Any Palestinian sources that I reviewed referred to the Philistines in biblical times inhabiting the lands of Samaria and Judea. But there is nothing specific to a land called Palestine with its own boundaries, government and monies. This issue has been raised because some media outlets have been referring to an “historic Palestine.” In short, the countries in the middle east (formerly known as Ottoman Empire) were arbitrarily drawn after the end of 1917 by the Brits.
In the next blog, I will cover more how the West Bank fits into this history after WWI.
Around 1947-1948, there was a Civil War which culminated in the Arab-Israeli War. This led to the 1949 cease fire agreement which partitioned the former Mandatory Palestine between the newly established state of Israel with a Jewish majority, the West Bank annexed by the Jordanian Kingdom and the Arab All-Palestine Government in the Gaza Strip under the military occupation of Egypt. Around that time, about 840,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homeland or they fled during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. At that time, only a few Palestinians were left in Israel, itself. By 1950, over one million Palestinians live in UN-supported refugee camps in Gaza, West Bank, Lebanon and Jordan.
After WWI, (1918-1922) the Ottoman Empire was divided by Britain and its allies into many other countries, some that we know today as Jordan and Turkey.
In recent history the area called Palestine includes the territories of present day Israel and Jordan (see map above. For earlier history of the term see article). From 1517 to 1917 most of this area remained under the rule of the Ottoman Empire.
Ottoman Empire was dissolved at the end of World War I. Its successor, modern republic of Turkey, transferred Palestine to British Empire control under the Lausanne agreement that followed WWI.
In 1917 Great Britain issued the Balfour Declaration for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”. In 1922 Britain allocated nearly 80% of Palestine to Transjordan. Thus, Jordan covers the majority of the land of Palestine under British Mandate. Jordan also includes the majority of the Arabs who lived there. In other words, Jordan is the Arab portion of Palestine.
The residents of Palestine are called “Palestinians”. Since Palestine includes both modern day Israel and Jordan both Arab and Jewish residents of this area were referred to as “Palestinians”.
It was only after the Jews re-inhabited their historic homeland of Judea and Samaria, that the myth of an Arab Palestinian nation was created and marketed worldwide. Jews come from Judea, not Palestinians. There is no language known as Palestinian, or any Palestinian culture distinct from that of all the Arabs in the area. There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians. “Palestinians” are Arabs indistinguishable from Arabs throughout the Middle East. The great majority of Arabs in greater Palestine and Israel share the same culture, language and religion.
Much of the Arab population in this area actually migrated into Israel and Judea and Samaria from the surrounding Arab countries in the past 100 years. The rebirth of Israel was accompanied by economic prosperity for the region. Arabs migrated to this area to find employment and enjoy the higher standard of living. In documents not more than hundred years, the area is described as a scarcely populated region. Jews by far were the majority in Jerusalem over the small Arab minority. Until the Oslo agreement the major source of income for Arab residents was employment in the Israeli sector. To this day, many Arabs try to migrate into Israel with various deceptions to become a citizen of Israel.”
“Even the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Arafat himself, is not a “Palestinian”. He was born in Egypt. The famous “Palestinian covenant” states that Palestinians are “an integral part of the Arab nation” — a nation which is blessed with a sparsely populated land mass 660 times the size of tiny Israel (Judea, Samaria and Gaza included).”
There is a reference to the existence of Palestine, at historynewsnetwork.org. (http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/139168#sthash.keUwvdCD.dpuf) The following commentary about a Roman province, Palestine is by Alan H. Luxenberg:
“Historic Palestine is simply a misnomer, if what is meant is an area with a particular set of borders enduring through time.”
“Historic Palestine as we know it today is derived from a map drawn up by the British at the end of World War I—in particular by British Christians whose understanding of the geography of Palestine was largely based on the (Hebrew) Bible”…
“In fact, historically, there was never an independent country named Palestine. There was for a time a Roman province named Palestine, when the Romans bestowed that name in the second century A.D. on an area that was previously called Judea, and which had been sovereign for a time. Having defeated the Jews in what the ancient historian Josephus labeled “the Jewish Wars,” the Romans then expelled the Jews from Jerusalem and renamed the province after the Jews’ historic archenemy, the Philistines.”
“This province then became part of the Byzantine Empire and part of several different Muslim empires after that. For a brief stretch, part of the land fell into the hands of the Crusaders who called it “The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.” But under a thousand years of Muslim rule, Palestine never quite remained the same, having been subject to administrative adjustments over the years, with the name even falling into disuse for a period of time. In the last four hundred years of Ottoman rule, what was labeled Palestine changed over the centuries, as the territory was divided and sub-divided into separate entities. In the nineteenth century what we call “historic Palestine” today was actually divided into three different administrative entities.”
“So, the historical record says that Palestine was never a country, and was rarely ever an intact entity. At most it was a geographic entity like Scandinavia but, even as that, it changed over time.”
“None of this is meant to deny that Palestinians have a just claim to the land—or that Jews have a just claim to the land. There has always been only one practical solution to the problem of two peoples claiming the same land—the two-state solution. But many people seem surprised to learn that this solution was invented by neither President Clinton nor President Bush nor President Obama. The two-state solution has a long history dating back at least to 1937, when the British proposed to partition the land between Arabs and Jews while leaving Jerusalem under international control. A similar plan was approved by the UN General Assembly in 1947, and then again proposed by President Clinton in 2000.”