2020 Stamp Programme
- 18 November 2020: Flora of Palestine (overprinted and surcharged stamp)
- 18 November 2020: Christmas 2020 (overprinted and surcharged stamps)
State of Palestine
Palestine (فلسطين), recognized officially as the State of Palestine (دولة فلسطين Dawlat Filasṭīn) by the United Nations and other entities, is a de jure sovereign state in Western Asia claiming the West Bank (bordering Israel and Jordan) and Gaza Strip (bordering Israel and Egypt) with Jerusalem as the designated capital, although its administrative center is currently located in Ramallah. The entirety of territory claimed by the State of Palestine has been occupied since 1948, first by Egypt and Jordan and then by Israel after the Six-Day War in 1967. Palestine has a population of 5,051,953 as of February 2020, ranked 121st in the world.
After World War II, in 1947, the UN adopted a Partition Plan for Mandatory Palestine recommending the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states and an internationalized Jerusalem. This partition plan was accepted by the Jews but rejected by the Arabs. The day after the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel on 14 May 1948, neighboring Arab armies invaded the former British mandate and fought the Israeli forces. Later, the All-Palestine Government was established by the Arab League on 22 September 1948 to govern the Egyptian-controlled enclave in Gaza. It was soon recognized by all Arab League members except Transjordan. Though jurisdiction of the Government was declared to cover the whole of the former Mandatory Palestine, its effective jurisdiction was limited to the Gaza Strip. Israel later captured the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria in June 1967 during the Six-Day War.
On 15 November 1988 in Algiers, Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), proclaimed the establishment of the State of Palestine. A year after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the Palestinian National Authority was formed to govern the areas A and B in the West Bank, comprising 165 “islands”, and the Gaza Strip. Gaza would later be governed by Hamas in 2007, two years after the Israeli disengagement from Gaza.
The State of Palestine is recognized by 138 UN members and since 2012 has a status of a non-member observer state in the United Nations. Palestine is a member of the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the G77, the International Olympic Committee, and other international bodies.
Palestinian National Authority
The Palestinian National Authority (PA or PNA; السلطة الوطنية الفلسطينية as-Sulṭa al-Waṭanīya al-Filasṭīnīya) is the interim self-government body that exercises partial civil control over the Gaza Strip and 167 islands in the West Bank known as “Areas A and B”, established as a consequence of the 1993-95 Oslo Accords. Following elections in 2006 and the subsequent Gaza conflict between the Fatah and Hamas parties, its authority had extended only in areas A and B of the West Bank. Since January 2013, the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority uses the name “State of Palestine” on official documents.
The Palestinian Authority was formed in 1994, pursuant to the Gaza–Jericho Agreement between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the government of Israel, as a five-year interim body. Further negotiations were then meant to take place between the two parties regarding its final status. According to the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority was designated to have exclusive control over both security-related and civilian issues in Palestinian urban areas (referred to as “Area A”) and only civilian control over Palestinian rural areas (“Area B”). The remainder of the territories, including Israeli settlements, the Jordan Valley region and bypass roads between Palestinian communities, were to remain under Israeli control (“Area C”). East Jerusalem was excluded from the Accords. Negotiations with several Israeli governments had resulted in the Authority gaining further control of some areas, but control was then lost in some areas when the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) retook several strategic positions during the Second (“Al-Aqsa”) Intifada. In 2005, after the Second Intifada, Israel withdrew unilaterally from its settlements in the Gaza Strip, thereby expanding Palestinian Authority control to the entire strip while Israel continued to control the crossing points, airspace, and the waters of the Gaza Strip’s coast.
In the Palestinian legislative elections on 25 January 2006, Hamas emerged victorious and nominated Ismail Haniyeh as the Authority’s Prime Minister. However, the national unity Palestinian government effectively collapsed, when a violent conflict between Hamas and Fatah erupted, mainly in the Gaza Strip. After the Gaza Strip was taken over by Hamas on 14 June 2007, the Authority’s Chairman Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the Hamas-led unity government and appointed Salam Fayyad as Prime Minister, dismissing Haniyeh. The move wasn’t recognized by Hamas, thus resulting in two separate administrations – the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and a rival Hamas government in the Gaza Strip. The reconciliation process to unite the Palestinian governments achieved some progress over the years, but had failed to produce a re-unification.
The PA received financial assistance from the European Union and the United States (approximately US$1 billion combined in 2005). All direct aid was suspended on 7 April 2006, as a result of the Hamas victory in parliamentary elections. Shortly thereafter, aid payments resumed, but were channeled directly to the offices of Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. Since 9 January 2009, when Mahmoud Abbas’ term as president was supposed to have ended and elections were to have been called, Hamas supporters and many in the Gaza Strip have withdrawn recognition for his presidency and instead consider Aziz Dweik, the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, to be the acting president until new elections can be held.
Introduction to the Stamps of Palestine
In the era of modern postage, the postal administrations in Palestine have included Austrian, French, Italian, German, Egyptian, and Russian post offices (through arrangements made with the Ottoman Empire), the Egyptian Expeditionary Forces, the British Mandate, and various interim authorities in the lead up to and after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Since 1948, postal services have been provided by Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian National Authority.
When discussing the pre-1948 postal history, most philatelists refer to this geographic area as Palestine or the Holy Land, though some also use Eretz Israel.
The Palestinian National Authority began in 1994 to issue stamps and operate postal services as authorized by the Oslo Accords.
Starting in 1994, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) began to issue stamps and operate postal services as authorized by the Oslo Accords. The agreements specifically regulate the wording that can be used on the stamps issued, specifying that they “shall include only the terms ‘the Palestinian Council’ or ‘the Palestinian Authority.'” Post offices were established throughout the PNA and its own unique postmarks were developed.
The first PNA stamps, printed by German state printer Bundesdruckerei Berlin, used the currency designation mils (which was the currency of the British Mandate of Palestine between 1927 and 1948). Israel protested over this issue, and all early stamps issued in 1994 had to be overprinted with fils (1/1000 of a Jordanian dinar).. A Palestinian newspaper, The Jerusalem Times, broke the story of the mils mistake on the stamps. Initially, PNA stamps were recognized only by Arab states, according to the PNA minister of post and telecommunications. Israel approved of PNA postage, following disputes over the currency designation, in November 1995.
In its first decade, the PNA expanded from 49 to 82 post offices (1994–2004). It provides a range of mailing services and issued its first stamp booklets in 2000.
In 1999, the PNA and Israel agreed that PNA mail could be sent directly to Egypt and Jordan. Earlier, the PNA had claimed that Israel had violated its agreements regarding postal service by impeding mail to Egypt and Jordan. When mail addressed to Arab countries could not be delivered, it was marked with a “no service” cachet because it could not be forwarded. The lack of forwarding has been due apparently to Israeli policy and the Arab boycott. At times, The PNA’s Ministry of Telecom & Information Technology issued a critical report on postal services in areas under Israeli control. In 2002, the minister of PNA Post and Telecommunications, Imad al-Faluji, claimed that Israel had destroyed its post offices in Gaza.
Direct mail service with Jordan is said to have resumed in 2007. Deliveries between the PNA and foreign countries are made through commercial agreements with Egypt, Israel, and Jordan. The Universal Postal Union and its member countries generally do not recognize stamps issued by entities that have not achieved full independence, such as the lands controlled in the Gaza Strip and West Bank by the PNA. Indeed, its accord with Israel (Article 29) stipulates that the PNA’s lack of membership in the Universal Postal Union would not change, nor would the PNA seek to change its status. The UPU and PNA do maintain relations. Nonetheless, it has become clear that the stamps issued by the PNA were functioning for postal activities within Palestine and for international postal communications. According to the New York Times, the doubts of stamp collectors were removed by the listing of the PNA in philatelic catalogs. Accordingly, collectors are analyzing not only stamps but also such matters as Palestinian postmarks and tariffs.
The Scott Publishing Company began incorporating stamps issued by the PNA into its catalogue of worldwide stamps in 1999. The initial listing was for the 77 stamps issued between 1994 and July 1997 and appeared in the July issue of Scott Stamp Monthly, the company’s magazine for collectors. In 1994, the PNA’s stamps featured the Palestinian flag, architectural scenes, and a souvenir sheet a commemorative of the Gaza–Jericho Agreement. It also issued a series of six official mail stamps.
Besides their postal role, Israeli post offices have played a pivotal role in political affairs for Palestinians in East Jerusalem. In 1996 and 2006, Israeli post offices in East Jerusalem served as voting stations for Palestinian elections.
Due to the political split between the Fatah-controlled West Bank and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in 2009, there exist two separate postal administrations: The Ministry of Telecom & Information Technology in Gaza, and Palestine Post of the Palestinian Ministry of Telecom & IT in Ramallah/al-Bireh. Both are issuing stamps for their respective areas, although for international use only the PNA stamps issued in the West Bank are valid.
The PNA does not have so far postcodes or addressing rules that would help automate and improve delivery services. A project to develop such a system started in 2010 with preliminary codes and a map being published in January 2011.
PNA stamps have honored various individuals: Yasser Arafat (1996), the visiting Pope John Paul II (1996), German politician Hans-Jürgen Wischnewski (1997), Mother Teresa (1997), U.S. President Bill Clinton signing the Wye River Memorandum, French President Jacques Chirac, and artist Ibrahim Hazimeh, whose fours works appear on a souvenir sheet (2001).
The PNA has commemorated anniversaries of the Arab League with a souvenir sheet, philatelic exhibitions with landscape photographs placed in gutter blocks honoring (1996), a series and sheet for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the return of Hong Kong to China (1997), the first elections within the PNA (a 1996 souvenir sheet), the opening of the Gaza airport, and the PNA’s admission to the United Nations (1998). The PNA produced three stamps with inset reproductions of Mandate stamps. The PNA also issues annual Christmas stamps, such as a nativity scene series on a souvenir sheet (1996).
Themes chosen for PNA stamps include: two series of Palestinian costumes (1997, 2002), local plants (1996), birds, photographs of 19th century Gaza and Hebron, the Canaanite god Baal, Byzantium era mosaics, butterflies, horses, tales of the Arabian nights, the airship LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin, cacti (2003), Palestinian universities, folk art (2003). Along its nature themes, stamps were issued with the World Wildlife Fund (2001). The PNA did not issue any new stamps in 2004 or 2007. In 2008 a set of for stamps commemorating the late poet Mahmoud Darwish was released.
Originally all philatelic services were based at the GPO in Gaza City, but since the political split between the Fatah-controlled West Bank and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in 2009 there exist two offices selling stamps, FDCs, etc., issued by their respective authorities to collectors:
- Ministry of Telecom & Information Technology (Gaza): General Post Office, Omer al-Mukhtar, Gaza City.
- Palestine Post (West Bank): Post Office al-Bireh