Factsheet: Palestine 101

Palestinians demand to live in peace and freedom enjoying justice and equal rights. Palestinians desire what we in Australia take for granted.

Who are the Palestinians?

Palestinians have lived in the land west of the Jordan River for thousands of years. Up until the rise of Zionism in the late nineteenth century; Muslim, Christian and Jewish Palestinians lived together as one community, largely at peace.

Today no matter where Palestinians live, they share two things in common – their culture and deep connection to their land.

Palestinians living in Gaza & the West Bank

In the West Bank and Gaza Palestinian families and communities have lived under Israeli military occupation for over 50 years. All aspects of their lives are controlled by Israel: movement is restricted; building permits denied; access to land, water and trade with other countries severely limited.

Israel has illegally annexed East Jerusalem and illegally settled more than 620,000 Jewish Israeli citizens on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, making a viable two state solution in Palestine increasingly untenable.

The Gaza Strip has been under a permanent state of illegal siege since 2007. The direct results of the blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt has impacted:

Palestinians living as refugees

The birth of Israel resulted in more than 700,000 Palestinians being forcibly removed from their homes and lands to become internally displaced or refugees in neighbouring countries. Palestinians call this the Nakba – or the catastrophe.

In 1967, an additional 300,000 Palestinians became refugees, some for the second time.
To this day they and their families live under the UN refugee charter and resolutions and have the right to return to their homes.

Many of these refugees are in the West Bank and Gaza, and stateless in neighbouring countries or spread throughout the world as the Palestinian diaspora. Palestinians make up 21% of the global refugee population.

Palestinians living with unequal rights in Israel

Over 20% of the population of Israel are Palestinians. Most of these people were internally displaced in 1948, and have been unable to return to their original towns and villages. Palestinians in Israel live as second class citizens with over 65 basic laws discriminating against them and in favour of Israeli Jews.

Israel passed the Nation State Law in 2018 which legalises apartheid inside Israel.

What can the Australian Government do?

  • Call on Israel to immediately halt all settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem
  • Demand an immediate end to the siege of the Gaza Strip
  • Call on Israel to end its occupation of Palestine
  • Formally Recognise the State of Palestine
  • Speak out about Israeli human rights abuses of Palestinians at the UN and in international
  • Oppose any annexation of Palestinian land by the Israeli government
  • Increase funding to UNRWA to support Palestinian refugees

What can you do?

For more information on what you can do, visit apan.org.au/take-action

Updated January 2024

Graph showing that: 5.6million Palestinians are refugees; 3million are in the WEst Bank; 1.9million on Gaza; and 1.9million are in Israel
Detailed timeline of key events for Paletine

The settlements I saw here [in the West Bank] reminded me of what we had suffered in South Africa because we also were surrounded by many settlements and were not allowed to move from one place to another freely. Palestinians are being subjected to the worst version of apartheid.

Mandla Mandela

People at a checkpoint

“Checkpoint 300 in Bethlehem" by Andrew E. Larsen, CC BY-ND 2.0

Israel is not a state of all its citizens. According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and only it.

Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister