We understand that Palestine is a sensitive topic. It is an issue that brings out passionate feelings for many. In this post, we’ll discuss a little history of the region, some of the considerations Sporcle uses to determine “what is a country”, and ultimately try to answer the question – is Palestine a country?
Is Palestine a Country on Sporcle?
The short answer – yes, as of January 16th, 2013, Palestine has been recognized as a country on Sporcle.
The driving force behind this decision came on November 29th, 2012, when the United Nations voted to change Palestine’s status within the organization to a non-member observer state. Politics aside, this was a pretty big deal at Sporcle as suddenly and without much warning Palestine met our criteria for what we consider a country.
When the UN voted to award it non-member observer state status, Sporcle suddenly had an interesting decision. Leaving Palestine off our Countries of the World quiz would have put our site in a situation in which it included two nations (Kosovo, Taiwan) that have less UN recognition than Palestine and one (Vatican City) that has basically the same status (non-member observer state).
To be consistent, it was decided that we would add Palestine to all the appropriate Sporcle quizzes.
The United Nations
The United Nations is a global organization, which brings together its member states from all over the world. Its mandate is to promote international cooperation, encourage mutual action on laws and worldly development, and to progress international issues and events.
Many people believe that for a state to be designated as a country, it must have inclusion within the UN. This however, as is seen with Palestine, is not necessarily the case, especially when a state has the support and validation of other member states recognizing it as independent sovereign land.
Understanding the Land and History
The landmass known as Palestine, or more accurately, Palestinian Territories, comprises the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. These two areas are in two separate locations within the bounds of Israel, and are connected via designated safe passages. With this land locked within the formal Israeli borders, Israeli settlements occupy all areas of these territories, and continue to expand their hold.
This region has a long, complex, and often messy history. In more recent times, this land was under British rule. During World War I, Britain favored Palestine as the national home for the Jewish people. Upon capturing the country, Britain mandated over Palestine until 1948. In this same year, Palestinian Arabs revolted against British rule, initiating the Palestine War, whereby division occurred between the Jews and Arabs.
Ultimately, the Jewish people would declare independence over the state of Israel.
Determining a Country
Today, Palestine is governed by Israel, and while this may impede its ability to govern and control itself, this does not dismiss the UN’s decision to grant Palestine a UN non-member observer status. This status is the same as that of the Vatican City, and allows the state to “participate as observers in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly (of the UN) and maintain permanent observer missions at headquarters”.
In addition, economic stability is also important when it comes to functioning as a country. In the case of Palestine, despite ongoing constraints to economic independence, they have experienced expansion in their economy since the 2014 recession and a surge in construction activity has afforded growth within the Gaza Strip. Collectively, these conditions support Palestine as being established as a recognized country and confirm the fact that it is not necessary for UN membership or universal recognition to occur in order for country status to be granted.
Future of Palestine
Over the past several years, more and more countries have become supporters of Palestine as a country, jumping on board to recognize Palestine as an independent state. To date, 135 of the UN member states support Palestine’s bid to also be recognized as a state, and it is only the countries of Western Europe, Canada, the United States, Australia and Japan that do not.
While there continues to be civil unrest, and much progress to be made in terms of democracy and economy, Palestine meets Sporcle’s criteria for country status.
As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comments section below, or you can send messages directly to our Feedback page.