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All-Palestine Protectorate

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All-Palestine Protectorate
حكومة عموم فلسطين
Partial recognition
Client state of the Kingdom of Egypt and later Egypt
Capital Jerusalem (claimed)
Gaza City (de facto)
Cairo (de facto)
Languages Arabic
Government Republic
 •  1948 Hajj Amin al-Husseini
Prime Minister
 •  1948 Ahmed Hilmi Pasha
Historical era Cold War
 •  Established 22 September 1948
 •  1949 Armistice 1949
 •  Arab League places Gaza Strip under official aegis of Egypt[1] 1952
 •  Suez Crisis 1956–1957
 •  Disestablished 1959
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Mandatory Palestine
Occupation of the Gaza Strip by Egypt
Today part of  Gaza Strip

The All-Palestine Protectorate, or simply All-Palestine, also known as Gaza Protectorate and Gaza Strip, was a short-living client state with limited recognition, corresponding to the area of modern Gaza Strip, which was captured by the Kingdom of Egypt during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and allowed to run as a protectorate under All-Palestine Government. The Protectorate was declared on September 1948 in the Gaza city and All-Palestine Government was formed. The Prime Minister of the Gaza-seated administration was Ahmed Hilmi Pasha, and the President was Hajj Amin al-Husseini, former chairman of the Arab Higher Committee.[2] In December 1948, just three months after declaration, the All-Palestine Government was relocated to Cairo and was never allowed to return to Gaza, making it a government in exile. With further resolution of the Arab League to put Gaza Strip under official protectorate of Egypt, All-Palestine Government was gradually stripped of authority, until it was finally dissolved in 1959, being legally merged into the United Arab Republic, but de facto turning Gaza into military occupation area of Egypt.

Legal status

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]

Though this is a generally accepted principle of international law, Gross' opinion was only internal US government advice. In any event, the British Mandate did expire on 15 May 1948. Other than the Arab Higher Committee, which was re-established in 1945 by the Arab League, the Palestinian Arab community had no government, and no administrative or unified military structure. It relied on the objective declared by the Arab League on 12 April 1948, and the expectation that the Arab armies would prevail over the Palestinian Jewish community. As the war progressed, however, the ineffectiveness of the Committee became obvious.

When it appeared that the Arab forces would not defeat the Israeli forces (and with King Abdullah I of Transjordan taking steps to annex the West Bank), fresh political measures were taken in the form of resurrecting the All-Palestine Government. By the end of the war, however, the Arab Higher Committee had become politically irrelevant.

There are differences of opinion as to whether the All-Palestine Protectorate was a mere puppet or façade of the Egyptian occupation, with negligible independent funding or influence, or whether it was a genuine attempt to establish an independent Palestinian state. Though the All-Palestine Government claimed jurisdiction over the whole former British Mandate of Palestine at no time did its effective jurisdiction extend beyond the Gaza Strip, with the West Bank annexed by Transjordan and Israel holding the rest. The All-Palestine Protectorate relied entirely on the Egyptian government for funding and on UNRWA to relieve the plight of the Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip. The All-Palestine Government relocated to Cairo in late 1948, where it became a government in exile and gradually fell apart because of its impotence, four years later becoming a department of the Arab League. It was finally dissolved in 1959 by decree of Nasser.

Foreign relations

The 1948 Arab-Israeli War came to an end with the Israel-Egypt Armistice Agreement of 24 February 1949, which fixed the boundaries of the Gaza Strip.[4] The All-Palestine Government was not a party to the Agreement nor involved in its negotiation.

In reality, during most of its existence the All-Palestine Protectorate was under de facto Egyptian administration, though Egypt never made any claim to or annexed any Palestinian territory. Egypt did not offer the Gazan Palestinians citizenship. Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and Egypt were issued All-Palestine passports, and were not permitted to move freely into Egypt. However, these passports were only recognized by six Arab countries. The passports ceased to be issued when the All-Palestine Government was dissolved, though some countries continued to recognize them for some time.

Government and politics

The All-Palestine Government was established by the Arab League on 22 September 1948 during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War to govern the All-Palestine Protectorate. 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 All-Palestine Protectorate (Gaza Strip).[5] The Prime Minister of the Gaza-seated administration was Ahmed Hilmi Pasha, and the President was Hajj Amin al-Husseini, former chairman of the Arab Higher Committee.[6]


The All-Palestine Government revived the Holy War Army with the declared aim of "liberating Palestine". The Army, however, has never actually recovered the defeat of the 1948 War and was in fact a collection of Palestinian fedayeen militias.


The Gaza Strip was the only area of the former British Mandate territory that was under the nominal control of the All-Palestine Government. The rest of the British Mandate territory became either part of Israel or the West Bank, annexed by Transjordan (a move that was not recognized internationally, except by UK).

See also


  1. ^ Kumaraswamy, P.R. The A to Z of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. 2009. p15.
  2. ^ Spencer C. Tucker, Priscilla Mary Roberts. The Encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Political, Social, and Military History: A Political, Social, and Military History p 464
  3. ^ The memo is contained in the Foreign Relations of the United States 1948, volume 5, part 2, p 964 and is cited by Stefan Talmon, in Recognition of Governments in International Law (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), p 36
  4. ^ Egypt Israel Armistice Agreement Archived May 25, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. UN Doc S/1264/Corr.1 23 February 1949
  5. ^ Gelber, Y. Palestine, 1948. Pp. 177-78
  6. ^ Spencer C. Tucker, Priscilla Mary Roberts. The Encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Political, Social, and Military History: A Political, Social, and Military History p 464

Further reading

  • Shlaim, Avi (1990). "The rise and fall of the All-Palestine Government in Gaza." Journal of Palestine Studies. 20: 37–53.[1]
  • Shlaim, Avi (2001). "Israel and the Arab Coalition." In Eugene Rogan and Avi Shlaim (eds.). The War for Palestine (pp. 79–103). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-79476-5
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