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Palestinian people

Palestinian people
Ethnic group
(  al-Filasṭīniyyūn)
Populationc. 11,000,000
Palestinian territories3760000
� West Bank (including East Jerusalem)2345000
Gaza Strip1416000
Saudi Arabia280245
United States255000
United Arab Emirates170000
El Salvador70000

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The Palestinian people, ( , ash-sha‘b al-Filasṭīnī) also referred to as Palestinians ( , al-Filasṭīniyyūn) or Palestinian Arabs ( , al-‘Arab al-Filasṭīniyyūn), are an Arabic-speaking Levantine people with origins in Palestine. Roughly one third of Palestinians live in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip areas of Israel, where they constitute 49% of all inhabitants (as of 2004), some of whom are internally displaced. The other two thirds comprise what is known as the Palestinian diaspora, of whom more than half are stateless refugees, lacking citizenship in any country. Of the diaspora, about 2.6 million live in neighboring Jordan where they are approximately half the population, one and a half million between Syria and Lebanon, a quarter million in Saudi Arabia, while Chile's half a million are the largest concentration outside the Arab world.

Genetic analysis and historical accounts suggest that the Muslims of Palestine are largely descendants of Christians and Jews from the southern Levant. Since the time of the Muslim conquests in the 7th century, Palestinians have been predominantly Muslim by religious affiliation and linguistically and culturally Arab. Most Palestinians are Sunni Muslims, but there is a significant Palestinian Christian minority of various Christian denominations, as well as Druze Palestinians and a small Samaritan community. Palestinian Jews made up part of the population of Palestine prior to the creation of the State of Israel, but very few identify as "Palestinian" today. The vernacular of Palestinians, irrespective of religion, is the Palestinian dialect of Arabic. For those who are Arab citizens of Israel, many are bilingual and fluent in Modern Hebrew. Those in the diaspora speak the languages of their host countries in addition to Arabic or to its exclusion.

The history of a distinct Palestinian national identity is a disputed issue amongst scholars. According to legal historian Assaf Likhovski, the prevailing view is that Palestinian identity originated in the early decades of the twentieth century. "Palestinian" was used to refer to the nationalist concept of a Palestinian people by the Arabs of Palestine in a limited way until World War I. The first demand for national independence of the Levant was issued by the Syrian-Palestinian Congress on 21 September 1921. After the creation of the State of Israel, the exodus of 1948, and more so after the exodus of 1967, the term came to signify not only a place of origin, but the sense of a shared past and future in the form of a Palestinian state. Founded in 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is an umbrella organization for groups that represent the Palestinian people before the international community. The Palestinian National Authority, officially established as a result of the Oslo Accords, is an interim administrative body nominally responsible for governance in Palestinian population centers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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