Bethlehem technically is part of the modern day Palestinian National Authority. The Palestinian National Authority is not recognized as a nation-state by some countries, including the United States. The Authority refers to itself as the State of Palestine.
In 2013, the United Nations recognized Palestine as a non-member observer state. Prior to becoming a part of the Palestinian National Authority, Bethlehem was under the control of the nation of Israel when that country occupied the West Bank. The first historical references to a town of Bethlehem date back to 1400 B.C.E. Located directly south of Jerusalem, Bethlehem is important to three of the world's major religions,: Christianity, Judaism and Islam.