The establishment of the Palestinian Authority post

Dr. Josef Wallach [ Hebrew Website ]

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Chapter 10: Documentation

The establishment of the Palestinian Authority post


I am a collector , and researcher dealing many years in documentation of the philately and postal history of modern Israel @ Palestine . This turbulent part of the world throughout history , was the focus of struggle and violent change of governments, which of course was reflected by the layout and quality of postal services provided .

The pace of events and their effect on the lives of residents steadily increased over the years , especially since the mid-19th century . The Ottoman Empire which reached the end of its 400 years old reign , as she surrenders to the impact of foreign powers . The British Occupation of Palestine in 1917/18 and the thirty years of Mandate which followed Modernized postal services in the area . Later in 1947/8 the Israeli-Arab conflict flared since the U.N. resolution on the partition plan of Palestine , all which have left their mark on the postal history of the land .

My being living in this period gave me the opportunity to document firsthand the impact of the change of governments in the last generation . I witnessed in 1967 the attachment of areas as Gaza Strip , The West Bank of Jordan , Sinai and Golan Heights as a result of the June 1967 " 6 Day War” . A lot of study and documentation work of postal services in these areas was done . Studies on the Israelite and previous periods , resulted and summarized in dozens of articles and several books published , in which the findings were presented .

It was only natural for me to continue the research in the period which began realizing the Oslo Accords , and some of the areas turned to the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority . This was a " once in a lifetime” opportunity to document in real time the process of establishment of a new postal system of a new state .

Establishment of the Palestinian Authority post

In early 1994, with the announcement of the plans of for establishment of the Palestine Authority ,and the transfer of Territories , I started to follow closely the development of the plans and their actual realization Especially I followed those activities , that had an impact on provision of postal services in the Territories which changed hands .

Unlike procedures and orders set up by the Israeli post, which assisted the documentation of post offices closing by Israeli Military government - the Pal. uth. did not issue any statement about the changes that would occur at the new postal services . There was no way to get advance information on the opening of post offices , dates or ,initiation of new postmarks or any other change in postal activity .

The sources of information at my disposal were based on the following :

1. Occasional visit to the post ofice of Jericho ( and only to this office ) .
2. Telephone calls and correspondence with officials and postmasters of Gaza Strip and West Bank post .
3. Analysis, after arrival of envelopes , commercial or others , most of which I initiated their posting .

As my habit over the years , I prepared a quantity of stamped envelopes , and passed them in advance to the responsible officials of postal services . So as to get the various last day postmarks of the Israeli post , and to the Pal. Auth. ones to get the first day of opening of the Pal. Auth. post offices .

Analysis of the " after events” envelopes was surprising . Where at the opening (in 1967) and closing (in 1994) of the Israeli post offices, in the 1967 Territories -of which dozens of collectors and dealers took action and prepared quantities of 1st day and Last day covers , NONE took place at the post office openings of the Pal. Auth. post offices in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank during 1995 ! Thus my work documenting the post office openings of the Pal. Auth during 1995 became the only source of envelopes and knowledge about the postal happenings during this period .

"commercial” versus "philatelic” envelopes .

99% of the envelopes which served as a basis to this study are philatelic in nature ,and without them , this postal documentation was not possible . This fact has often been criticised .

Inarguably an ideal situation , it would be better to base the study on commercial envelopes only , such mail sent as part of the regular postal activity in the period (see for example " The undercover mail routes between Israel and Arab States” based all on commercial covers ) ") .

However , critics must ask themselves wether this documentation was possible with commercial covers only . The unequivocal answer is NO ! At the beginning of the Pal. Auth post the scope of activity was very low ..

Some of the the services offered have not been in demand and quite a few were hardly active Due to the venture of sending "philatelic” envelopes it is possible to present in full the birth of the Pal. Auth. post . A chapter in the postal history of the area which was not been able to document otherwise .

To sum it up : One has to consider the downside of this philatelic initiative versus the unique documentation by "philatelic” covers , which resulted , and enabled the above study .


As stated above , throughout the years when I was documenting the postal history of Israel and the 1967 Territories , I initiated shipments of envelopes via the regular mail lines , while I am trying to run all postal services which were offered to the public . So I did in when documenting the Palestinians postal services .

At the end of 1994 we were announced the advent of the Pal. Auth. stamps , which were printed in Germany and distributed by dealers around the world and the country . I purchased these s stamps from various sources both from the agent in Germany, local dealers and later at the Pal. Auth. postal counters . I have accumulated a stock of stamps , waiting to to the opening of the Pal. Auth. post offices and the first day of the postmarks in Gaza Strip and Jericho .

Since there were no advance notice about post office openings , dates , locations postmarks etc. and No knowledge to whom to address my envelopes - I have prepared myself as following :
I purchased hundreds of empty envelopes addressed them , and divided them according to type of services ( plain or Registered ) , and potential post offices .
My preparations relied on my experience and contacts built in the Territories in the 1967-1994 period .
At the end I had prepared dozens of packages of envelopes with a distribution of all types of them

As to obtain a full and broad picture of the postal events in the Pal. Auth. and as to document the variety of services which have been offered to the public , I prepared envelopes of different types : .

Posting time: When I shipped the packages with the envelopes to the officials and/or post managers I asked them NOT to send them in one day . Part should be cancelled and posted on the first day and the rest to be sent gradually along the following days . Thus I succeeded to learn about the scope of activity at the post office , this, by examining Reg. labels Nrs. which were stuck to the envelopes .

Type of Service: I asked the postmasters to send part of the envelopes as plain and the others as Reg. letters . Part of the envelopes were sent by EXPRESS mail and others I asked to be handled as parcels .

Franking : throughout the period in which I followed the Pal. Auth. postal activity (in 1994-2001 ) I purchased a large quantity of stamps both at local post offices and from the agent in Germany . Part of the envelopes which I passed to the postmasters were franked by myself , as to ensure the use of all stamps issued . .Another part of the envelopes passed without stamps (Accompanied by money orders to cover costs) , asking to put a variety of stamps available at the post office . Thus learning which stamps are sold actually at the post office counters .

Destination : On the envelopes I tried to put a great variety of addresses and destinations . Part were sent to my private address in Israel . Another part was sent to addresses of friends abroad , which took care to return them to me . In many cases I sent Reg. letters to addresses which do not exist , both inside the Pal. Auth. and abroad . Most covers were returned to the sender and allowed me to learn about degree of postal ties between the Pal. Auth. with different countries including Arab States .

Validity of shipment: In some cases I tried to test the "limits” or "endurance” of the system , and the way it responds to violations of the procedures of posting . In the period in which Pal. Auth. stamps were legal only within the limits of Gaza Strip and Jericho , I sent letters with Pal. Auth. stamps to Israel and overseas countries . In other cases I sent envelopes which were franked with Pal. Auth. stamps which were termed "invalid” by Israel ( Stamps using words as ‘Mils” and ‘Palestine’ ) .

The following envelope was put into large package ( see examples [Link 1] ) accompanied with a letter , in English and Hebrew , with details of service I would like to receive :

As mentioned , over the years I prepared hundreds of envelopes of diff. types and passed them in advance to responsible managers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip .
The whole operation was directed by mail except for a few visits to the post office of Jericho ( to which I arrived at the end of the Israeli rule in the area ) . Otherwise I was never present at any of the post offices in which they were cancelled

After each round of envelope shipments , I waited impatiently to the response .
The envelopes came back to me in several different paths :

1, Envelopes sent to my address came to me by Israel Post .
2. Envelopes sent to friends abroad were returned to me in a lump sum by the recipients in large envelopes .
3. Envelopes which were posted non-existing addresses were returned to” sender” in one of the Pal. Auth. Post offices . They were returned to me in large envelopes ( see examples [Link 2] )

Documentation of the First Day of Pal. Auth. postal activity

In December 1994 , I sent to the postmaster general in Gaza Strip a large package with hundreds of envelopes divided into groups according to the post offices . In an accompanied letter I have asked him to cancel the envelopes and post them on the first day of opening of each local post office :

In addition I asked to cancel and send another group of envelopes on the second day of local postal activity ( see letter ) :

The results were good and even exceeded expectations .
The envelopes which were sent to me were cancelled with the ‘ BRIDGE’ type postmark ,
which served the Palestinian post for a short period of two months and were replaced by the German made metal type postmarks . Since the overall activity in the first months was very little ,
and I was the only one to document systematically the opening of the Palestinian post offices ,
the envelopes of my undertaking constitute the bulk of these rare postmarks .

( See a V.R. commercial pcd bearing the Bridge type postmark) [Link 3]

. In retrospect , the request to cancel envelopes on the second day of postal activity was of paramount importance . Thus it was able to record two steps in running the Palestinians post offices : (A) The official First day (1.Jan.1995) (B) The actual First day of activity (10.Jan.1995)

Documentation of other Pal. Auth. postal activities

I continued to send groups of envelopes to the regional postal managers and asked to post them upon opening of additional post offices . So I was able to document additional events in the activity of the Pal. Auth . post :
1. Opening of additional post offices in the Gaza Strip
2. Opening of post offices in the West Bank area , under the Oslo-B- agreement .
3. Opening of additional post offices in the West Bank .
4. Opening of mobile post offices in the West Bank (which never operated) [Link 4]
5. Special events postmarks and cachets .
6. Development in the postal struggle with Israel post. [Link 5]

In small part of my requests I made specific guidance about shipping dates of the envelopes.
In most cases , I asked in general to send my envelopes on the day of opening a new post office,
or immediately upon arrival of my letter plus envelopes to the postmaster.
In these cases the delivery date was made by the manager of the local post office.

In some cases the postmaster who took care of my requests added a response letter detailing the actions taken on my behalf, together with receipts for mailing registered letters .


Examinations of the many envelopes I have accumulated over the years which I spent documenting, allows a better understanding of the way post offices of the Pal. Auth. operated in the early years of Statehood .


Josef Wallach's Publications relating to the Foundation of the Palestinian Authority Post, Transition Period etc. Publications in the SOCIETY of ISRAEL PHILATELIST (S.I.P.) Journal, USA:
1. The Gradual Termination of Israeli Postal Services in Gaza Strip and Jericho, 4-17 May 1994: an Eyewitness Report, S.I.P. Nr. XLV (45), #7-8, pages 7049-7054, Aug. 1994.
2. The Transition Period of the Palestinian Authority Post, Part I: Manual Cancellations and Provisional Postmarks, S.I.P. Nr. XLVII (47), #7-8, pages 7579-7582, Aug. 1996.
3. - " -, ditto, Part II: EXTERNAL Postal Communications from the Palestinian Authority, S.I.P. Nr. XLIX (49), #3, pages 82-85, June 1998.

4. The Gradual Termination of Isr. Postal Services… etc., H.L.P.H. Nr.59, pages 1023-1035, Summer 1994.
5. The Transition Period of the Palestinian Auth. Post, Part I, H.L.P.H. Nr. 65/66, pages 149-157, Winter 1996.
6. The Transition Period of the Palestinian Auth. Post Part II, H.L.P.H. Nr.73/74, pages 418-429, Winter 1997.

Publications in BAPIP, ENGLAND:
7. Vol. 16 #143, pages 20-21, 1996.
8. Vol. 16 #144, pages 52-54, 1997.

Publications in DER ISRAEL PHILATELIST, GERMANY (in German):
9. Vol. 32 #124, pages 3679-3687, 1994.
10. Vol. 34 #129, pages 3848-3849, 1996.
11. Vol. 36 #136, pages 4084-4092, 1998.

12. "????? ?????" ?? ??? ??????, ??? ??' 11, ??' 16-17, ???????-?????? 1994. [The Final Days of Gaza & Jericho. Vol. 11, Oct-Nov 1994. pgs. 16-17]
13. ????? ????? ?? ???? ????? ?????????: ?????? ?????? ??????? ????, ??? ??' 21, ??' 9-10, ????-???? 1995. [The Palestinian Authority Mail Transitional Period: Part 1 - Manual Franking and Transitional Franking. Vol. 21, Jun-Jul 1995. pgs. 9-10]
14. ????? ?????..." - ": ???? ????? ????????? ?? ??????????, ??? ??' 31, ??' 21-23, ???? 1998. [As above, continued: Part 2 - The Autonomy's External Postal Connections. Vol. 31, July 1998. pgs. 21-23]
15. The birth of a new postal system : The Palestinian National Authority , 1994 -2008
Paul J. Phillips , and Josef Wallach , American Philatelic Congress year book 2009 .
( Received : best article of the year award )

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