In 1947, the United Nations proposed that the British held territory of Palestine be partitioned to create an independent Jewish and an independent Arab state.
This was rejected by the Palestinians, and when Israel was created, in May 1948, it was immediately attacked by its Arab neighbors. In the ensuing conflict, Israel captured three-quarters of the territory originally set aside for a Palestinian state.
Just under 20 years later, Israel was attacked again. This time it took control of the remaining Palestinian territories: the West Bank and Gaza. This led to UN Security Council Resolution 242, which called for Israel to withdraw from the territories it had captured in 1967, and for all parties to accept the sovereignty and territorial integrity of every state in the region.
Then, in 1974, the UN General Assembly confirmed the inalienable rights of the Palestinians to self-determination and national independence. On 15 November 1988, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the PLO, formally proclaimed the State of Palestine.
While Israeli and Palestinian leaders subsequently agreed to a two-state solution, which would see a fully independent Palestine coexist alongside Israel, progress has stalled.
As a result, Palestine has pressed ahead with its diplomatic campaign for recognition. Today, its statehood has been accepted by almost 140 countries around the world, and in 2011 it applied to join the UN.
Although this was blocked by the United States, on 29 November 2012 Palestine was admitted as a non-member observing state at the UN. However, as things stand, there’s little sign a fully independent Palestinian state will exist anytime soon.
Meanwhile, Israel’s threats to formally annex the occupied territories risk making the actual realization of a Palestinian state all but impossible.