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The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, politically under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian National Authority and the Hamas Government in Gaza. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries to be part of the State of Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the United Nations, Israel and major Western nations, including the United States. Effectively parts of the West Bank are currently governed by the Palestinian National Authority, while other parts are governed by Israeli military authorities, which the UN and international legal bodies often refer to as the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Gaza Strip is being controlled by Hamas-led Palestinian Government.

The territories were part of the territory west of the Jordan River of Mandate Palestine, formed in 1922. In March 1946, the territory east of the Jordan River, which had been ruled as a separate province of Mandate Palestine, became the independent kingdom of Transjordan, though general international recognition took a bit longer. From the 1948 Arab–Israeli War until the 1967 Six Day War, the West Bank was occupied and annexed by Jordan (annexation recognized only by UK and Pakistan) and the Gaza Strip occupied by Egypt, though limited authority was exercised in Gaza by the All-Palestine Government until 1959. The borders of Palestinian territories are currently considered to be delineated by the 1949 Armistice Agreements.

Since 1967 and until the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority in 1993, the territories became occupied by Israel, and effectively the term Occupied Palestinian territories was coined. In 1980 Israel annexed East Jerusalem, but United Nations Security Council Resolution 478 declared it "null and void" and required that it be rescinded, stating that it was a violation of international law. The annexation lacks international recognition. After losing it in 1967, Jordan renounced all territorial claims to East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1988.

In 1993, parts of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank were transferred to the administration of the Palestinian National Authority, becoming Palestinian territories. In 2005, Israel pulled out all its remaining forces of Gaza Strip and dismantled its settlements. Yet, both West Bank and Gaza Strip are currently considered to be occupied by Israel according to the international community, although Israel has denied that it occupies the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian National Authority regards East Jerusalem as part of the West Bank, and consequently a part of the Palestinian territories, while Israel regards it as part of Israel as a result of its annexation in 1980. According to the Israeli Supreme Court, the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits unilateral annexation of occupied territory, does not apply to East Jerusalem, as there was no "legitimate sovereign" there prior. The Palestinian National Authority, which maintains a territorial claim to East Jerusalem, never exercised sovereignty over the area. However, this reasoning has not been recognized by any other country, since unilateral annexation of territory conquered during war contravenes the Fourth Geneva Convention.

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