The Palestinian Political System in the West Bank and Gaza 1948-1967

The Palestinian Political System in the West Bank and Gaza 1948-1967


D. Essam Adwan


First of all: All-Palestine Government

On the night of the tenth of July 1948, the General Secretariat of the League of Arab States announced the decision of the Political Committee of the League to establish a temporary civil administration to conduct public civil affairs and necessary services. Without political competences. As a result of renewed fighting before the day the Civil Administration was announced, It has stopped.

The Interim Civil Administration met in Gaza City on 22/09/1948. Ahmed Helmy Abdel Baqi informed the Arab governments and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States of declaring Palestine as a whole and its known borders before the end of the British Mandate as an independent state and the establishment of a government therein known as the All-Palestine Government on democratic bases.

The Arab Higher Commission decided to form the National Council of personalities and bodies that have a representative capacity. General elections in Palestine were difficult due to the war. Accordingly, Government Prime Minister Ahmed Helmy Abdel Baqi, Call for 151 personalities to compose the National Assembly. The call included the following bodies:

Arab Higher Organization, Members of the Ministry, Heads of municipal councils, Heads of local and village councils, Presidents of Chambers of Commerce, Accredited by national committees, Presidents of syndicates of doctors, pharmacists, lawyers and engineers, Chiefs of tribes and clans, Members of political delegations representing the country, Heads of political parties, Representatives of denominational bodies such as the Supreme Islamic Council, the Orthodox Executive Committee and the Federation of Christian Churches

Having considered the Conference as close as possible to the representative character of the Palestinian people, Where:-

  • The Arabs of Palestine recognized the Arab Higher Committee as their representative, This was also recognized by Arab governments, the British government and the United Nations.
  • The last elections for municipal councils and local and village councils in Palestine took place in 1946/1947.
  • National committees were formed in late 1947. In early 1948, With the knowledge of the people of the areas in which it was established and by their agreement and under a special system established by the Arab Higher Authority.
  • Representation of all segments of society, especially the intellectual, through professional unions, political parties and sectarian representations, Representatives of political delegations, and clan chiefs.

The Palestinian National Council , held in Gaza City on the first of October 1948, declared, The decision of independence of all Palestine based on the natural and historical right of the Palestinian Arab people

The Palestinian National Council approved a provisional statute for the All-Palestine Government. The government shall be composed of a National Assembly with a President (Haj Amin al-Husseini) and two deputies who shall jointly compose the National Assembly. In addition to a Council of Ministers and a Supreme Council consisting of the President of the National Assembly as President and the Prime Minister (Ahmed Helmy Abdel Baqi). The President of the Supreme Court is a member, The formation of a National Defence Council composed of the President of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence. Protocol powers have been determined for the Supreme Council

As for the capital of the Arab state, it confirmed (Article 14) that “the city of Jerusalem is the capital of the government and the ministry has the right, with the approval of the President of the National Council, to choose another center of government.” The government should temporarily settle in Gaza City.

Thus arose the first Palestinian political system. Days after the formation of the government, the Egyptian government summoned Amin al-Husseini to Egypt. and the imposition of house arrest on him, The Council of Ministers moved with him and established a seat of government in Cairo. The Arab League demanded the maintenance of the All-Palestine Government. Provided that its formation is limited to Prime Minister Ahmed Helmy, its Secretary General Jamil al-Sarraj and four employees. They are Tahseen al-Hout, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, Ihsan Sorour and Adeeb al-Ansari. As for the ministers of the All-Palestine Government, each went to his own work. Since 1949, the Arab League has gradually abandoned it. Thus, she was not invited in the same year. It neglected all its reports and projects and demanded loans and aid. On the other hand, the All-Palestine Government issued about (11,400) Palestinian passports since its inception in 1948 until 1954.

Secondly: The West Bank in the Jordanian era 1967-1948

On the other hand, several Palestinian conferences were held, such as the Amman Conference on 1/10/1948, the Jericho Conference on 1/12/1948, the Ramallah Conference on 26/12/1948 and the Nablus Conference on 28/12/1948, which led to resolutions demanding Palestinian-Jordanian unity and pledging allegiance to King Abdullah on the new and unified state. On April 24, 1950, the unified Jordanian parliament issued the Jordanian-Palestinian unity resolution, which stated:

Supporting the full unity between the eastern and western shores of Jordan and meeting them in one state, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, headed by His Majesty King Abdullah bin Al Hussein. This is on the basis of constitutional representative rule and equality of rights and duties among citizens. Thus, the West Bank became part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, There was one constitution for the two banks, one parliament, one upper house and one ministry. Laws and provisions were applied to the people of both banks, The Nationality Act was promulgated in 1954. The West Bank has remained far from the Palestinian political system. It was officially subject to the Jordanian monarchical political system until King Hussein Ibn Talal issued, On 31 July 1988, the decision to disengage legally and administratively between the West Bank and Jordan. It was abolished by King Abdullah II immediately after assuming power.

Thirdly: Gaza Strip in the Egyptian era 1967-1948

Following the defeat of the Arab armies in the 1948 war, the Egyptian authorities retained the Gaza Strip from that date (until the June 1967 war). Following the signing of the Israeli-Egyptian Armistice Agreement in February 1949 on the island of Rhodes, the Gaza Strip was formally attached to the administration of the Egyptian government, which, at the official mandate of the Arab League, took over the administration of the Palestinian areas under the control of the Egyptian armed forces, which later became known as the Gaza Strip. Under this mandate, the Egyptian government is responsible for the affairs of the sector, including legal and constitutional affairs.

From the end of the 1948 war until the June 1967 war, the Egyptian administrative governor (who was called after 1962 the governor-general because of the breadth of his powers and not limited to administrative matters) oversaw the administration of the Gaza Strip as a territory over which the Egyptian state exercises administrative authority on behalf of the Palestinians. The Egyptian government never annexed the Strip to Egypt. Thus, the Gaza Strip was never part of its territory and therefore Egyptian laws did not apply to it.

The laws and regulations that were in force in the Palestinian political system in Palestine during the British Mandate period continued to apply. The Governor-General was vested with all the powers and powers that were vested in the British High Commissioner. It has the power to issue orders with the force of law with a view to regulating various aspects of public life in the Strip. These powers emerged after the signing of the Armistice Agreement with Israel in February 1949. The Egyptian Administrative Governor General declared the Gaza Strip a military zone governed by emergency laws and took several measures to prevent independent Palestinian political action or the establishment of an independent Palestinian entity. This is evidenced by:

  • The Egyptian authorities pressured Haj Amin al-Husseini and the All-Palestine Government and its institutions to move from Gaza to Cairo near the headquarters of the Arab League.
  • Annexation of independent Palestinian institutions and military forces to the Egyptian state.
  • Replacing the Palestinian currency with the Egyptian currency and the Palestinian identity issued by the All-Palestine Government with the Egyptian identity.
  • Imposing strict restrictions on travel to and from the Gaza Strip except with special permits and after exorbitant financial payments. preventing Palestinian refugees from working in Egypt, The situation improved significantly after the Egyptian authorities issued travel documents to Palestinian refugees in 1960, allowing them to travel to the Gulf states for work.

In order to regulate the political and legal situation in the Gaza Strip, the Egyptian Government promulgated on 11 May 1955 the Basic Law of the Gaza Strip No. 255. and the constitutional regime of the Gaza Strip on 5 March 1962.

The constitutional system provides for the formation of a legislative council by election of 22 members elected by the National Union from among its elected members. The Governor-General shall select ten other members from among the members of the National Union with the necessary qualifications, such as lawyers, doctors and others. This brought the number to (32) members. The nine members of the Executive Board were also added ex officio. Thus, the number of members of the Legislative Council becomes (41) members. In its first session in Gaza City (the seat of the Legislative Council) on 23/6/1962, the PLC chose Dr. Haidar Abdul Shafi as its Chairman until he resigned to devote himself to his new job as Vice-Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was formed in Jerusalem in 1964.

The PLC exercised its powers for three years from 23/6/1962 to 22/6/1965 until it issued several laws in various fields. Such as court rules of personal status, inheritance, income tax, national service and other taxes. The Governor-General did not block any law passed by the Legislative Council. On the contrary, all of them have been ratified without objection.

According to Article ( (41) The Legislative Council may not issue a resolution unless the majority of its members attend the session. Except in cases where a special majority is required, decisions shall be taken by an absolute majority of the votes of the members present. In the event of a tie of votes, the opinion of the side of the President shall prevail. But (Article (42) It gave the Governor-General the veto power that “no law shall be passed unless it is decided by the Legislative Council and ratified by the Governor-General.”

At the same time (Article 44) gave members of the Legislative Council the right to ask questions to members of the Executive Council as a form of oversight over the work of the Executive Council (government). This was not found in the Basic Law of 1955.

Another novelty in the 1962 constitutional order is that the Governor-General cannot adopt “the draft budget until the legislature has expressed its opinion on it.” (Article 66).

It dealt with the constitutional order of 1962, In the fourth chapter, Judgments of the judicial authority. He stressed the independence of the judiciary and the composition of the Supreme Court and its powers to annul administrative decisions when the appeal is due to lack of jurisdiction, defect in form, violation of laws and regulations, error in their application or interpretation, or deviation in the use of power.

When the legal term of the PLC expired on 22/6/1965, the Egyptian government refused to allow the election of a new legislative council. This is because of the Legislative Council’s demand for an expansion of its powers and for a more democratic and effective constitution. So that he can be his own master and impose his control on the executive council (government). On the other hand, the establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1964 came with the blessing and support of the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. A role in not allowing new elections to form a legislative council. The PLO has become the new Palestinian political system. The representative and spokesman of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian National Council now represent all the Palestinian people.

After the establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization, The people of the Gaza Strip are turning their gaze to the PLO. Leader of their national struggle and representative of the Palestinian people.

Thirty members from the Gaza Strip entered the Palestinian National Council. Half of them were members of the sector’s legislature and the other half were members of the National Union. The representatives of the Gaza Strip thus became part of the representatives of the people of Palestine.

Therefore, after the end of the term of the Legislative Council in 1965, the Egyptian government suspended the constitutional system. It gave the Governor-General and his Executive Council, which he presides, the freedom to make appropriate decisions and policies. Until the June 1967 war, which put an end to the Egyptian administration in the Gaza Strip. This administration enabled the Gaza Strip to form a semi-independent political entity resembling a state. It must have a legislative council, an independent judiciary and an executive council. The doors of Egyptian universities and institutes were opened to students in the Gaza Strip. This is in addition to granting the residents of the Gaza Strip equal rights with the Egyptian people to work and own property.


Reference: Osman Mahmoud Ahmed et al., National Education, Al-Quds Open University Publications, 2010, pp. 48–53

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