The Judea and Samaria Area covers a portion of the territory designated by the ancient names Judea and Samaria. Samaria corresponds to part of the ancient Kingdom of Israel, also known as the Northern Kingdom. Judea corresponds to part of the ancient Kingdom of Judah, also known as the Southern Kingdom.
After the Assyrian conquest of the Northern Israelite Kingdom of Israel in about 721 BCE, the previous inhabitants were deported and replaced by forced resettlement by other peoples, which eventually became Samaritans, at the hands of the Assyrians. As a direct consequence, a central part of the former Northern Kingdom of Israel was renamed Samaria (Shomron in Hebrew). During the Hellenistic and Roman periods the name of the former Southern Kingdom of Judah was hellenized to Judea. In modern times, Samaria was the name of one of the administrative districts of Mandatory Palestine. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, adopted in 1947, referred to "Samaria and Judea" as part of a proposed Arab state to be carved out of the Mandate of Palestine but the boundaries of "Samaria and Judea" did not precisely coincide with the current Judea and Samaria Area.
Following the occupation of the West Bank, which was then ruled by Jordan, by Israel in 1967, the Israeli right began to refer to the territories by their Hebrew names and argued for their integration into Israel on historical, religious, nationalist and security grounds. In December 1967, the Israeli military government issued an order that stated: "the term 'Judea and Samaria region' shall be identical in meaning for all purposes to the term 'the West Bank Region'" and had in early 1968 been officially adopted. However, the phrase was rarely used until 1977 when Menachem Begin, a proponent of extending Israel's sovereignty to the region, became prime minister. The phrase is still used today by various figures who support Israeli annexation of the area.
The name Judea, when used in Judea and Samaria, refers to all of the region south of Jerusalem, including Gush Etzion and Har Hebron. The region of Samaria, on the other hand, refers to the area north of Jerusalem. East Jerusalem has been incorporated into the Jerusalem District and is under Israeli civilian rule, and is thus excluded from the administrative structure of the Judea and Samaria Area.
The terms "West Bank" (HaGada HaMa'aravit: הגדה המערבית), or, alternatively, "the Territories" (HaShtahim: השטחים), are also current in Israeli usage.