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Filastīn, Palestinian National Authority, As-Sulta Al-Wataniyya Al-Filastīniyya

Last modified: 2009-05-16 by eugene ipavec
Keywords: palestine | palestinian authority | al-falasteen | arab | plo | pna | league of arab states | triangle: hoist (red) | swords: 2 (crossed) | swords: 2 (white) | palm tree | eagle of saladin |
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[Palestine] 1:2
image by Santiago Dotor

Official Name: السلطة الوطنية الفلسطينية [As-Sulta Al-Wataniyya Al-Filastīniyya], Palestinian National Authority
Short Form: فلسطين [Filastīn], Palestine
Capital: Ramallah / Gaza City (de facto), East Jerusalem (claimed)
Location: Middle East
Government Type: Republic
Flag Adopted: between 1964 and 1974
Coat of Arms Adopted: unknown
ISO Code: PS PSE 275
FIPS 10-4 Code: WE (West Bank), GZ (Gaza Strip)
MARC Code: wj (West Bank of the Jordan River), gz (Gaza Strip)
Risk of confusion with: Jordan, Western Sahara, Sudan, Kuwait

See also:

Description and Construction Sheet

There are basically three of our flags. The Common Flag is flown on a daily basis in representative offices such as ours, and is a triband (from top to bottom: black, white, green) with red triangle pointing to the middle of the white band. The other two are the Official and the Presidential flags. (...) In reference to the colour, this remains uncertain as there are no real specific colours. The green for instance could vary from turquoise to forest green.

Al Bitar (Palestinian Embassy at Bucharest), 15 Feb 1999

[Construction Sheet - Palestine] 1:2
image by Santiago Dotor and Eugene Ipavec, 15 Jan 2008

The flag specifications laid down in a decree of 1 December 1964 said that the triangle's length is half of its height. So it is 1/4th of the flag's length, and Album des Pavillons 2000 is correct. The colours are not specified in that decree. (...) The flag's ratio is 1:2. As far as I know the decree is still in force or even was confirmed in 1994. You can see the flags with such triangles in every TV report and on photographs. The triangle is nearly always the same [shape], even when the flag is shorter (2:3 or whatever).

Ralf Stelter, 23-24 Jan 2001

An article by Jan Oskar Engene in the Autumn 2007 issue of Nordisk Flaggkontakt [nfk07a], the journal of the Nordic Flag Society, reports two acts adopted by the Palestinian National Authority in late 2005 and early 2006, describing the flag and regulating its use. Jos Peols has located the documents online: 2005 PA Flag Act, 2006 PA Flag Act.

Jan Oskar Engene, 24 Nov 2007

History of the Flag

The Palestinian flag represents all Palestinian Arab aspirations regardless of party. It belongs to the Arab Revolt grouping of Arab flags and is a deliberate copy of the Jordanian flag (minus the star), which presumably represents the historical link to 1920-23 when Palestine and Transjordan were one territory. I think the flag was adopted in 1964 at the creation of the PNC and PLO, possibly a little later. It was definitely in use by 1974 when the Arab League declared the PLO the sole representative of all Palestinians and the UN granted the PLO observer status. There was no single Palestinian authority prior to 1964 that could have created a flag.

T.F. Mills, 13 Dec 1995

1938 Paramilitary Flag

[1938 Paramilitary Flag (Palestine)] 1:2
image by Santiago Dotor and Eugene Ipavec, 09 Oct 2007

José Manuel Erbez reported in the Spanish Vexilologia mailing list a variant of the Palestinian flag used in 1938 during the Arab revolt (scan here). The flag displays a crescent and cross on the hoist triangle, probably representing the Muslim-Christian union against Jewish settlement. José Manuel Erbez mentioned the picture showing the flag appeared in a history magazine, I believe it is Historia y Vida, June 2002, p. 3, Mundo Revistas S.A., Barcelona. If I remember correctly (I had a look at the magazine weeks ago) there is some Arabic lettering on the bottom stripe. I would guess the flag was home-made.

The crescent and cross emblem recalls that used on a green flag in the 1919 Egyptian revolution (image in Smith 1975 [smi75c]).

Santiago Dotor, 25 Jun 2002

The Arab Revolt was between 1936 and 1939 and is known in Israel as Me'ora'ot TARTZAV-TARTZAT (i.e. 5696-5699 Events). The Arabs were organized in paramilitary groups (known as "the gangs") with very loose connction between each other and between them and the Arab leadership in Jerusalem. There was no coordination or supreme command and each "gang" was led by a local leader. The "pose" in front of the camera and the flag, suggest this is one of the "gangs" and the flag is probably used by this gang. I saw some photos with flags used in this era, and those were all based on the same flag but bear different inscriptions and emblems. I guess that all bought or received the same basic flag and each gang added elements as it (or probably its leader) saw fit.

Dov Gutterman, 25 Jun 2002

1948 "All-Palestine Government" Flag

[1948 'All-Palestine Government' Flag (Palestine)]
image by Filip Van Laenen, 03 Nov 1996

In March 1948, following the evacuation of the British forces from Gaza, the "All-Palestine Government," presided over by Ahmad Hilmi Pasha, declared the establishment of a Palestinian state and chose the Arab flag as its formal national flag. This flag was raised in Gaza until the arrival of the Egyptian army in the area two months later. (Qassimiya 1970: 29–33)

from"The Orange And The 'Cross in The Crescent:' Imagining Palestine in 1929" [PDF] by Tamir Sorek

From the PASSIA (Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs) home page:

Sharif Hussein designed the current flag as the flag of the Arab Revolt on June 1916. The Palestinian people raised it as the flag of the Arab National movement in 1917. In 1947, the Arab Ba'ath Party interpreted the flag as a symbol of the liberation and unity of the Arab nation. The Palestinian people readopted the flag at the Palestinian conference in Gaza in 1948. The flag was recognized by the Arab League as the flag of the Palestinian people. It was further endorsed by the PLO, the representative of the Palestinians, at the Palestinian conference in Jerusalem in 1964.
See Origin of the Pan-Arab Colours for the full text.

Quoted source: Mahdi Abdul Hadi, Evolution of the Arab Flag, Amman, Feb 1986.

Today's news out of Israel informs us that at a meeting last week between Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian President Abbas at the former's official residence in Jerusalem, the Palestinian flag flew, for the first time, alongside the Israeli one. See article.

Nathan Lamm, 29 Dec 2006

1955 "Bloody Palestine" Protest Flag

[1955 'Bloody Palestine' Protest Flag (Palestine)]
image by Eugene Ipavec, 15 Jan 2008

In 1952, following the Free Officers’ coup in Egypt, the Arab flag was re-raised on public buildings alongside the Egyptian flag. In 1955, Ya’qub Khuri, the director of the Palestine department in the Arab League, suggested adding another flag to represent Palestine – the word "Palestine" in red on a white background, which would symbolise the bloody state of Palestine. This flag was raised indeed in the Palestinian offices in the Arab League until it was removed due to the protest of the Prime Minister of the "All-Palestine Government" (Qassimiya 1970: 29–33).

from"The Orange And The 'Cross in The Crescent:' Imagining Palestine in 1929" [PDF] by Tamir Sorek

Vertical Flag [Click on image for full size]

[Vertical Flag (Palestine)] 2:1

The online edition of the New York Times has a collection of photos from President Arafat's burial in Ramallah. (...) It appears that vertically positioned PS flags are – at least in this case – positioned so that the black stripe is on the right, as seen by a viewer. (This seems to make sense in a culture reading from right to left.)

"Thorsten," 13 Nov 1995

A photo of a Palestinian flag displayed vertically; as usual, the black (top) stripe is to the "sinister" (observer's right) in contrast to European practice.

Albert Kirsch, 17 Nov 1995

image by Santiago Dotor

Placename Note

I would like to offer a correction to the headline of the Palestinian entry. As far as I know, the Arabic article "al-" is not attached to the name "Filisteen." There are certain place and county names which are preceded by "al-" (the equivalent of "the" in English), but Palestine is not one of them.

A few other corrections – I think "Filisteen" is a better transcription (as used later in the adjective: "al-filistinieh"), but perhaps it would be best to consult an Arabic speaker, since there are so many dialects and variants in pronunciation. In "al-sulta" the first "l" should be omitted – "a-sulta" or "as-sulta." This "l" is written but isn't pronounced, because there is an assimilation of the "l" to the "s."

Dror Kamir, 27 Apr 2003

Flags of Neighboring Countries