All-Palestine Government
حكومة عموم فلسطين
Hukumat 'umum Filastin
Recognised only by some Arab states
1948–1959 Flag of Israel.svg
Flag of the United Arab Republic.svg

Flag of Hejaz 1917.svg

Capital Jerusalem (official)
Gaza City (in practice)
Languages Arabic
Government Republic
Prime Minister Ahmed Hilmi Abd al-Baqi
Historical era Cold War
 -  Established 22 September 1948 1948
 - 1949 Armistice 1949
 -  Disestablished 1959
 - Six Day War 1967

The All-Palestine Government (Arabic: حكومة عموم فلسطين Hukumat 'umum Filastin) was established in Gaza by the Arab League on 22 September 1948, during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Shortly thereafter, an Arab-Palestinian Congress named King Abdullah I of Transjordan, "King of Arab Palestine".[1] The Congress called for the union of Arab Palestine and Transjordan and Abdullah announced his intention to annex the West Bank. The other Arab League member states opposed Abdullah's plan. The All-Palestine Government is regarded as the first attempt to establish an independent Palestinian state.

Formation of government

Legal Basis

On April 12, 1948, the Arab League announced:

The Arab armies shall enter Palestine to rescue it. His Majesty (King Farouk, representing the League) would like to make it clearly understood that such measures should be looked upon as temporary and devoid of any character of the occupation or partition of Palestine, and that after completion of its liberation, that country would be handed over to its owners to rule in the way they like.[2]

Ernest A. Gross, a senior U.S. State Department legal adviser, authored a memorandum for the United States government titled Recognition of New States and Governments in Palestine, dated 11 May 1948. He expressed the view that "The Arab and Jewish communities will be legally entitled on May 15, 1948 (the date of expiry of the British Mandate) to proclaim states and organize governments in the areas of Palestine occupied by the respective communities." Gross also said "the law of nations recognizes an inherent right of people lacking the agencies and institutions of social and political control to organize a state and operate a government."[3]

Continuity of laws

Palestine was one of the two states established within the boundaries of the Mandate following World War I, the other being Transjordan. It was the original intention of the League of Nations that the Mandatory regime would lead to their eventual independence.[4]

Ernest Bevin, the British Foreign Secretary, said that after twenty five years, the British had failed to establish the self-governing institutions in Palestine that had been required under the Mandate.[5] Transjordan had been recognized as an independent government throughout most of the mandatory period, but it had not been recognized as an independent state prior to 1946.[6]

Egypt supervised an independent government of Palestine in Gaza as a trustee on behalf of the Arab League.[7] An Egyptian Ministerial order dated June 1, 1948 declared that all laws in force during the Mandate would continue to be in force in the Gaza Strip. Another order issued on August 8, 1948 vested an Egyptian Administrator-General with the powers of the High Commissioner. The All-Palestine Government issued a Declaration of the Independent State of Palestine on October 1, 1948.[8] In 1957, the Basic Law of Gaza established a Legislative Council that could pass laws which were given to the High Administrator-General for approval. In March of 1962, a Constitution for the Gaza Strip was issued confirming the role of the Legislative Council.[9]

Officials and acts of state

Ahmed Hilmi Abd al-Baqi was named as the Prime Minister. Hilmi's cabinet consisted largely of followers of Hajj Amin al-Husayni, the Mufti of Jerusalem, but also included representatives of the other factions of the Palestinian ruling class. Jamal al-Husayni became foreign minister, Raja al-Husayni became defense minister, Michael Abcarius was finance minister, and Anwar Nusseibeh was secretary of the cabinet. Twelve ministers in all, living in different Arab countries, headed for Gaza to take up their new positions.

The All-Palestine Government formally adopted the Flag of the Arab Revolt that had been used by Arab nationalists since 1917, and revived the Holy War Army, with the declared aim of liberating Palestine.

A Palestinian National Council was convened in Gaza on 30 September 1948, under the chairmanship of the Mufti of Jerusalem. The council passed a series of resolutions culminating on 1 October 1948 with a declaration of independence over the whole of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital. Although the new government claimed jurisdiction over the whole of Palestine, it had no administration, no civil service, no money, and no real army of its own.

After Israel went on the offensive against Egypt on 15 October 1948, the Government was quickly recognized by six of the then seven members of the Arab League: Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, but not by Transjordan.[10] It was not recognised by any other country.

Despite its lofty goals, the All-Palestine Government proved to be generally ineffectual. The Palestinians, and the Arab World in general, were shocked by the speed and extent of the Israeli victories, and the ill-preparedness of the Arab armies, who were poorly equipped. This, combined with the expansionist designs of King Abdullah, cast the Palestinian leadership into disarray. As such, Egypt under King Farouk I exerted strong control of the government, which had little influence or funding.

Avi Shlaim writes:

The decision to form the Government of All-Palestine in Gaza, and the feeble attempt to create armed forces under its control, furnished the members of the Arab League with the means of divesting themselves of direct responsibility for the prosecution of the war and of withdrawing their armies from Palestine with some protection against popular outcry. Whatever the long-term future of the Arab government of Palestine, its immediate purpose, as conceived by its Egyptian sponsors, was to provide a focal point of opposition to Abdullah and serve as an instrument for frustrating his ambition to federate the Arab regions with Transjordan. (Shlaim, 2001, p. 97)

End of 1948 Arab-Israeli War

The 1948 Arab-Israeli War came to an end with the signing of the 1949 Armistice Agreements. The Gaza Strip was the only area of the former British Mandate territory that was under the nominal control of the All-Palestine Government, with 78% of the Mandate territory becoming part of Israel, and the West Bank soon to be annexed by Transjordan. In reality, the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian administration, though Egypt never made any claim to or annexed any of the Palestinian territory. Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and Egypt were issued with All-Palestine passports, and were not permitted to move freely into Egypt.

End of government

After the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 and the rise to power of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egyptian support for the Palestinian Arab cause increased.

During the Suez War of 1956, Israel invaded the Gaza Strip and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. Israel eventually withdrew from the territories it had invaded, and the All-Palestine Government continued to have official sovereignty in Gaza. The situation was finally ended after the 1958 unification of Egypt and Syria in the United Arab Republic.

In 1959, Gamal Abdel Nasser officially annulled the All-Palestine Government by decree, reasoning that the All-Palestine Government had failed to successfully advance the Palestinian cause. The Gaza Strip would continued to be administered by Egypt, until it was captured by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967.


  1. See Jericho Declaration, Palestine Post, December 14, 1948, Front page[1]
  2. Israel, the West Bank and international law, by Allan Gerson, Routledge, 1978, ISBN 0714630918, page 78
  3. The memo is contained in the Foreign Relations of the United States 1948, volume 5, part 2, page 964 and is cited by Stefan Talmon, in "Recognition of Governments in International Law" (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), page 36
  4. See Marjorie M. Whiteman, Digest of International Law, vol. 1, US State Department (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1963) pp 650-652
  5. See Text of Message From Mr. Bevin to the U.S. State Department, February 7th, 1947, Foreign relations of the United States, 1947. The Near East and Africa, Volume V (1947), page 1033
  6. Foreign relations of the United States, Volume VII, 1946, page 796
  7. See "Palestine and International Law", ed. Sanford R. Siverburg, McFarland and Company, 2002, ISBN: 0786411910, page 11
  8. See Palestine Yearbook of International Law, Vol 4, By Anis F. Kassim, Kluwer Law International (June 1, 1988), ISBN: 9041103414, page 294
  9. "From Occupation to Interim Accords, Raja Shehadeh, Kluwer Law International, 1997, pages 77-78
  10. All-Palestine Government, by Shlaim, Avi

Further reading