Overall Chronology

Overall Chronology

Highlight
The Palestinian Flag
A Symbol of Identity and Solidarity

A flag is a piece of cloth, usually rectangular, of distinctive color and design, used as a symbol, standard, signal, or emblem. States use flags as symbols to distinguish themselves from other states. They can evoke the freedom and independence of a nation; they can be a source of national memories and evidence of the nation’s unity and cohesion. For countries under colonial rule or occupation, they can be instruments for mobilizing resistance.

The Historical Roots of the Palestinian Flag

The roots of the Palestinian flag go back to the days of the Arab nationalist movement on the eve of World War I , and especially to al-Fatat (the Young Arab Society ), which was founded in Paris in 1911, and the Ottoman Party for Administrative Decentralization , founded in Cairo in 1913.  The leaders of these movements wanted to create a symbol and emblem that Arab provinces could adopt when they broke free from Ottoman rule. It combines three colors: black, white, and green, as explained in “The Third Cry,” a statement by the Young Arab Society: “Peace be upon you, our nation, peace. May righteousness protect our nation in the blackness of the night, the whiteness of conscience, and the greenness of certain hope.” When Sharif Hussein in the Hijaz declared the Arab Revolt against Ottoman rule, on 10 June 1916, the color red appeared as a triangle on the flag. On the first anniversary of the declaration, in 1917, it was decided that the flag of the new Hashemite state should have horizontal bands in black, green, and white, with a vermilion triangle stretching the full width of the flag at the staff and projecting into the flag for a distance twice its height.

Some sources say that British diplomat Mark Sykes selected the colors of the Arab flag and put his suggestion to Sharif Hussein, but it is more likely that Sykes volunteered some designs for an Arab flag in the four colors after learning, during his meetings with Arab nationalists, especially in Egypt , that they had already set their minds on these colors for the flag. He may have discussed this with the Sharif of Mecca when they met in the port of Jedda in early May 1917. 

When Arab rebel forces entered Damascus on 30 September 1918, the four-colored Arab flag was raised in place of the Ottoman flag. But when the General Syrian Congress invited Hussein’s son Faisal to be king of Syria , a special flag was created for an independent Syria. This was the first Arab flag in the same colors and design, but with a white seven-pointed star added in the middle of the red triangle. Leaders of the Palestinian National Movement, which became independent of the nationalist movement in Damascus in late 1920, adopted the flag of the Arab revolt as the flag of Palestine as a symbol of the first national liberation movement in the Arab world and as a first step toward Arab unity. Their single modification to the design of the flag was in the order of the three horizontal bands: they placed the black at the top, white in the middle, and green along the bottom. 

After imposing its authority as the Mandate power in Palestine, the British government devised its own flag for the country: a British Red Ensign with the Union Flag in the upper-left canton and, in the red field, a white circle and the word Palestine in English arranged around the upper part of the circle. Palestinians refused to recognize this flag and raised their own flag in demonstrations and on national occasions. (The Palestinian flag was banned by the Mandate authorities.) 

When the Mandate came to an end, the Palestine National Council , which met in Gaza on 30 September – 1 October 1948 at the invitation of the All-Palestine Government , announced the independence of Palestine and proclaimed the flag of the Arab Revolt as the flag of Palestine. But when Jordan annexed the West Bank , the Arab flag was replaced by the Jordanian flag there, and the Egyptian flag was raised in the Gaza Strip after Egypt took administrative control of the area. When the Free Officers movement overthrew the Egyptian monarchy in July 1952, the new government allowed Palestinians to fly the Palestinian flag alongside the Egyptian flag at public events in Gaza. 

The Adoption of the Palestinian Flag in Its Current Form

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded in early June 1964, and on 1 October the PLO Executive Committee met and decided on the specifications of the Palestinian flag. Its length would be twice its width, and it would be divided into three horizontal bands of equal width, a black band at the top, a white band in the middle, and a green band at the bottom. There would be a red isosceles triangle with its longest side flush against the side of the flag at the mast. This became the flag of the Palestinian resistance when it began in 1965 and the flag of the state of Palestine that was declared by the Palestine National Council in Algiers in November 1988. It then became the official emblem of the Palestinian Authority (PA) that was set up in the self-rule areas in 1994.

Since the start of the Palestinian resistance movement, supporters of the Palestinian cause have raised the Palestinian flag across the world in their demonstrations to express solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom and independence. 

The Sanctity of the Palestinian Flag

On 22 December 2005, Mahmoud Abbas , the chairman of the PLO executive committee and president of the PA, issued a law on the sanctity of the Palestinian flag, known as law 22 of 2005. It specifies the colors and dimensions of the flag, how it should be respected, where it should be raised, and the penalties for violations of the flag law.  

The law says the flag should be raised on all PLO and PA buildings and the buildings of institutions belonging to the PA, its forces and its representative offices abroad, and at holidays and on all national occasions. No other flag may be raised on government offices or institutions or on public places, and any other flag or sign in the form of a flag cannot be flown above the Palestinian flag at the same site. The law says the flag must be respected and cannot be abused or treated with contempt in word or in deed. It must be kept clean and maintained in a state appropriate to its symbolic status. Under this law, the flag can be flown at half-mast by ministerial decree when necessary, for specified periods and for reasons stated in the same decree.

The Raising of the Palestinian Flag at UN Headquarters in New York

On 30 September 2015, the president of the state of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, raised the flag of Palestine at UN Headquarters in New York for the first time, alongside the flags of UN member states. In a speech after the flag-raising, he said: “This is a historic moment in the course of our people’s struggle. This flag represents our national identity and is dedicated to those who have been killed in conflict or imprisoned.” The same day he decided to designate that day as Palestinian Flag Day .

The UN General Assembly had passed Resolution 69/320 on 10 September 2015, which stated that flags of states that have observer status at the UN but are not full members could be raised at UN headquarters in New York. The preamble to the resolution noted that the state of Palestine became a non-member state with observer status on 29 November 2012. One hundred and nineteen countries voted for the resolution, eight voted against, and forty-five abstained.

The Palestinian Flag in Israeli Law

After Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem , and the Gaza Strip in June 1967, the occupation forces detained and prosecuted anyone caught raising the Palestinian flag in those areas, on the grounds that it was the flag of the outlawed PLO. This was based on the Prevention of Terrrorism Ordinance No. 33, dating back to 23 September 1948. On 30 July 1980, the ordinance was amended to include “any act manifesting identification or sympathy with a terrorist organisation in a public place or in such manner that persons in a public place can see or hear such manifestation of identification or sympathy, either by flying a flag or displaying a symbol or slogan or by causing an anthem or slogan to be heard, or any other similar overt act clearly manifesting such identification or sympathy as aforesaid.” Anyone accused of committing such act could be imprisoned for up to three years.

The occupation authorities’ campaign against people who fly the Palestinian flag became especially strict in the years of the First Intifada , which broke out in December 1987. After the Oslo Agreement were signed, the Israeli authorities generally avoided prosecuting people for flying the Palestinian flag in occupied Palestinian areas, based on advice from the Supreme Court . That lasted until 2014, when the government’s deputy legal adviser for criminal matters said that the police should remove the Palestinian flag in cases where flying it led to “breaches of the peace and threats to the safety of the public.” In these cases the perpetrators could be prosecuted.

Since the late 1970s the Palestinian flag has sometimes appeared at demonstrations and other gatherings of Palestinians inside Israel. This has become more common in recent years, especially in Israeli universities. In order to suppress this practice, in 2022 the Israeli Knesset passed a law banning the flying of the Palestinian flag at institutions inside Israel, including universities. Sixty-three of the 120 Knesset members voted for this law, and 16 voted against. The opposition parties, led by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu , had submitted the draft law in response to the outcry in right-wing nationalist and religious opposition parties when dozens of students raised the Palestinian flag at Tel Aviv university and Ben-Gurion university in Beersheba during commemorations of the Nakba in May 2022.

Overall Chronology
E.g., 2024/04/14
E.g., 2024/04/14

Ottoman Rule

1500

1600

1700

1800

1810

1820

1830

1840

1850

1860

1870

1880

1890

1900

1901

1902

1903

1904

1905

1906

1907

1908

1909

1910

1911

1912

1913

1914

1915

1916

Early Mandate

1917

1918

1919

1920

1921

1922

1923

1924

1925

1926

1927

1928

1929

1930

1931

1932

1933

1934

1935

Late Mandate

1936

1937

1938

1939

1940

1941

1942

1943

1944

1945

1946

The Palestine War And The Nakba

1947

1948

1949

Reverberations Of 1948 Palestine War And The Arab-Israeli Conflict

1950

1951

1952

1953

1954

1955

1956

1957

1958

1959

1960

1961

1962

1963

1964

1965

The Rise Of The Palestinian Movement In The Wake Of The 1967 Arab Defeat

1966

1967

1968

1969

1970

1971

1972

From A Sense Of Victory To Separate Peace And Civil War

1973

1974

1975

1976

1977

1978

1979

1980

1981

Palestinian Defeat, Divisions And Survival

1982

1983

1984

1985

1986

The First Intifada And The Beginning Of Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations

1987

1988

1989

1990

1991

1992

The Oslo Process And The Establishment Of The Palestinian Authority

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

The Al-Aqsa Intifada and the End of an Era in Palestinian Politics

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

A Palestinian Authority Divided, Israeli Assaults on Gaza, and Peace Process Setbacks

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

With a Growingly Intractable Deadlock, Whither Palestine?

2017

2018

2019

2020