Anwar al-Khatib served as the Jordanian-appointed governor of the Jerusalem District (muhafaza) from 1965 to 1967, and earlier, briefly, as mayor of Jerusalem. He also was Jordan’s first ambassador to Egypt in 1963.
Anwar al-Khatib al-Tamimi
Al-Khatib was born in Hebron at the end of the reign of the Ottoman Empire. He came from a prominent landowning Hebron and Jerusalemite family whose name “Khatib” (which is a common one in Jerusalem) means orator, preacher, or speaker, and refers to someone who has delivered an Islamic sermon (khutba) during Friday prayers and Eid prayers in a mosque.
He studied social science and law at the Arab College in Jerusalem and received a BA in law in 1943. During college, he worked as a teacher in Beersheba and Jerusalem.
Start of Political Involvement
Al-Khatib started his political career as a lawyer at the Palestine Supreme Muslim Council and was appointed as its secretary in 1945. In 1946, he became a member of Hajj Amin al-Husseini’s Arab Higher Committee, after a period spent out of the country in Baghdad and Muscat.
After the war, from 1949 to 1950, al-Khatib then headed a municipal executive committee, during which time he served as mayor of Jerusalem until his replacement in July 1950. A Jordanian loyalist, al-Khatib was subsequently appointed by King Abdullah I to serve as district commissioner of the Old City, carrying out administrative duties under the Jordanian government.
Roles in Jordanian Government and Return to Jerusalem Leadership
Al-Khatib was elected as a member of the Jordanian parliament from 1951 to 1954 and served as a minister in several Jordanian cabinets from 1961 to 1967, including as minister of economics and construction. From 1963 to 1964, he served as Jordan’s first ambassador to Egypt. In 1965, he was appointed by Jordan as governor of the Jerusalem district.
Al-Khatib was a founding board member of Dar al-Tifl al-Arabi, an orphanage founded by Hind Husseini in April 1948 near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to accommodate the 55 children she found there who had been orphaned by the Deir Yasin massacre.
Al-Khatib served on the first board, which was formed in 1949.
1967 War and Aftermath
When Israel seized East Jerusalem in the 1967 War, al-Khatib was Jerusalem’s governor, making him the highest-ranking Jordanian civilian official in the West Bank at the time. He later wrote a book about the fall of Jerusalem called Ma‘a Salah al-Din fi al-Quds: Ta’ammulat wa-dhikhrayat (With Salah al-Din in Jerusalem: Reflections and memories). A summary of his recounting of the night Israel conquered East Jerusalem can be found here (under section A.).
In late July after the war, he was one of the founding members of the Muslim Council (al Hay’a al-Islamiyya) and among its minority of secular members. As the council began spearheading a protest movement against the Israeli occupation of the city and beyond, he, along with three others, was internally banished to Safed on July 31 for three months—a mere week after he was one of the signers of the declaration announcing the council’s establishment. Charged by Israel with “incitement to subversion,” he and the other three were put under police surveillance and ordered to report to the police three times a day during this period.
He refused to acknowledge his dismissal as governor, and later he continued to manage Jordan’s interests in Jerusalem from a small office in the city.
Involvement in Israeli-Palestinian Peace Efforts
Al-Khatib was among the few Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza who were invited to meet President Anwar Sadat of Egypt in his hotel suite when Sadat came to Jerusalem for the first time in 1977.
In November 1982, he signed the (unreleased) “Palestinian Peace Document,” which recognized the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
In October 1991, he was appointed as an adviser to the Jordanian delegation to American-backed peace talks in Madrid. He was named by Jordan to circumvent Israel’s refusal to include East Jerusalem residents or Palestinians from the diaspora in the Palestinian delegation. Initially preferring that the Palestinians should serve as go-betweens to Israeli and Jordanian negotiators, al-Khatib later changed his stance to advocate that Palestinians should represent themselves.
Al-Khatib died at age 76 on February 7, 1993, of a heart attack at Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem. He was buried in Jerusalem. He left a wife, two daughters, and a son.
al-Khatib, Anwar. Ma‘a Salah al-Din fi al-Quds: Ta’ammulat wa-dhikhrayat [With Salah al-Din in Jerusalem: Reflections and memories] (Jerusalem: Dar al-Tiba‘ al-‘Arabiyya, 1989).
Associated Press. “The Middle East Talks: Arafat and Assad Express Optimism.” New York Times, October 27, 1991.
Associated Press. “Anwar al-Khatib, Palestinian Official, 76.” New York Times, February 9, 1993.
BADIL. “The Palestinian National Movement Prior to the Nakba.” [In Arabic.] Accessed March 22, 2021.
Encyclopedia Palestina. s.v. “Anwar al-Khatib.” [In Arabic.] Accessed March 22, 2021.
Infogalactic: The Planetary Knowledge Core. s.v. “Anwar Khatib.” Last modified April 17, 2016.
al-Khatib, Anwar. “Firsthand Account of the Fall of Arab Jerusalem.” In “Special Documents File: Jerusalem 1967.” Journal of Palestine Studies 37, no. 1 (Autumn 2007): 89–95.
Los Angeles Times. “Anwar al-Khatib; Former Governor of Jerusalem.” February 12, 1993.
Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA). “Al-Khatib, Anwar (1917–1993).” .
Rekhess, Elie. “The Palestinian Political Leadership in East Jerusalem after 1967.” In Jerusalem: Idea and Reality, edited by Tamar Mayer and Suleiman Ali Mourad (London: Routledge, 2008), 266–82.
Tucker, Spencer C. “Anwar al-Khatib.” In The Encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Political, Social, and Military History, edited by Spencer C. Tucker (Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio, 2008), 577.
Washington Post. “Anwar al-Khatib Dies.” February 9, 1993.
Wikimedia Commons. s.v. “Anwar al-Khatib.”.
Yale Law School. “Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry—Appendix IV.” Accessed March 22, 2021.