The flag used to represent the Palestinian people was designed in 1916 by Sharif Hussein of Mecca. It was used then as the flag of the British led Arab revolt against the Ottomans during World War One. In 1917, its use was altered slightly, as it became the flag of the Arabist national movement. As pan-Arabic autonomy became a more popular ideal, the flag was used more widely, and in 1947 was used by the Arab Ba'ath party to represent the liberty and unity of the Arab nation.
The Palestinian people adopted it as their flag in 1948 at the Palestine Conference in Gaza, when it was recognised by the Arab league as the flag of the Palestinians. It was endorsed by the PLO at the Palestinian Conference in 1964, and its use has become increasingly widespead as Palestinian nationalism increases.
The Palestinian flag is a rectangular flag with an equilateral red triangle at the mast, with three equal width horizontal stripes extending from this. These stripes are black at the top, white, and green at the bottom.
The Red Triangle
The equilateral red triangle on the Palestinian flag has its origins in the Arab conquests of North Africa and Andalusia. The tribes who participated in these adopted the triangular red flag as the symbol of their rule, particularly over Andalusia. More recently, the red has symbolised the Hashemites, who are descendents of the Prophet.
In pre-Islamic times, a black flag was a symbol of revenge, and a black headdress was worn into battle. Black was however adopted by the Abbasid Dynasty of Baghdad as a symbol of mourning for the assassinated relatives of the Prophet. Also, when Mecca was liberated in the seventh century, both a black and white flag were carried, so both the black and white stripes represent this.
White is also a colour of mourning, as taken by the Ummayyad dynasty to distinguish themselves from the Abbasids. White particularly is a reminder of the Prophet's first battle at Badr.
Green is also the legacy of an old Arab dynasty, that of the Moroccan Fatimid dynasty who ruled most of North Africa from 909 to 1171CE. They adopted green as their colour to symbolise their allegiance to the Prophet's cousin Ali, who once put a green blanket in place of the Prophet to prevent an assasination.
To most who see the Palestinian flag, it is not past heroics and memories that are conjured up: more the struggle of the current Palestinian people, and the difficulties they face. The flag can be seen as a nationalist symbol and a reminder of these struggles.
Source: Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs www.passia.org