Palestinian Christians and Muslims constituted 90% of the population of Palestine in 1919, just before the third wave of Jewish immigration under the post-WW1 British Mandatory Authority, opposition to which spurred the consolidation of a unified national identity, fragmented as it was by regional, class, religious and family differences. The history of a distinct Palestinian national identity is a disputed issue amongst scholars. Legal historian Assaf Likhovski states that the prevailing view is that Palestinian identity originated in the early decades of the 20th century, when an embryonic desire among Palestinians for self-government in the face of generalized fears that Zionism would lead to a Jewish state and the dispossession of the Arab majority crystallised among most editors, Christian and Muslim, of local newspapers. "Palestinian" was used to refer to the nationalist concept of a Palestinian people by Palestinian Arabs in a limited way until World War I. 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 also the sense of a shared past and future in the form of a Palestinian state. Modern Palestinian identity now encompasses the heritage of all ages from biblical times up to the Ottoman period.
Founded in 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is an umbrella organization for groups that represent the Palestinian people before international states. The Palestinian National Authority, officially established in 1994 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. Since 1978, the United Nations has observed an annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. According to Perry Anderson, it is estimated that half of the population in the Palestinian territories are refugees and that they have collectively suffered approximately US$300 billion in property losses due to Israeli confiscations, at 2008–09 prices.
The Greek toponym Palaistínē (Παλαιστίνη), with which the Arabic Filastin (فلسطين) is cognate, first occurs in the work of the 5th century BCE Greek historian Herodotus, where it denotes generally the coastal land from Phoenicia down to Egypt. Herodotus also employs the term as an ethnonym, as when he speaks of the 'Syrians of Palestine' or 'Palestinian-Syrians', an ethnically amorphous group he distinguishes from the Phoenicians. Herodotus makes no distinction between the Jews and other inhabitants of Palestine.
The Greek word reflects an ancient Eastern Mediterranean-Near Eastern word which was used either as a toponym or ethnonym. In Ancient Egyptian Peleset/Purusati has been conjectured to refer to the "Sea Peoples", particularly the Philistines. Among Semitic languages, Akkadian Palaštu (variant Pilištu) is used of 7th-century Philistia and its, by then, four city states. Biblical Hebrew's cognate word Plištim, is usually translated Philistines.
Syria Palestina continued to be used by historians and geographers and others to refer to the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, as in the writings of Philo, Josephus and Pliny the Elder. After the Romans adopted the term as the official administrative name for the region in the 2nd century CE, "Palestine" as a stand-alone term came into widespread use, printed on coins, in inscriptions and even in rabbinic texts. The Arabic word Filastin has been used to refer to the region since the time of the earliest medieval Arab geographers. It appears to have been used as an Arabic adjectival noun in the region since as early as the 7th century CE. The Arabic newspaper Falasteen (est. 1911), published in Jaffa by Issa and Yusef al-Issa, addressed its readers as "Palestinians".