Political Controversy Leaves Israel-Gibraltar Friendship Stamp Unissued

Gibraltar’s postal service dismayed by Israel’s decision to feature East Jerusalem landmark.

A postage stamp is at the heart of a conflict between Israel and Gibraltar, a tiny British overseas territory on the straits connecting the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean. The stamp slated to be released by both the postal services of Israel and Gibraltar, will apparently never find its way to any envelopes, after the Gibraltar’s postal service refused to approve its design for apparent political reasons.

Since 1993, the Israeli Postal Service has been issuing stamps in collaboration with other countries, sometimes to commemorate an historic event, sometimes to celebrate the friendship between the countries.

Israel Gibraltar friendship stamp - Moti Milrod - 12012012
Moti Milrod

Israel issued stamps with Poland to commemorate the ghetto rebellions and with Austria and Hungary on Theodor Herzl's one hundredth birthday. “Friendship stamps” were also issued in collaboration with France, Canada, the Vatican, as well as, other nations.

A year ago, Israeli philatelists were informed on the upcoming release of the Israel- Gibraltar stamp. In June, its design was made public. It was half adorned by a picture of a Gibraltar cliff and half with a picture of the King David Citadel in Jerusalem.

“The stamp’s design is very calculated and pretty,” Attorney Aviv Roichman, a collector from Tel Aviv said.

Roichman received the postal service catalogue in July and noticed the stamp was absent.

“The catalogue skips from 866 to 868. When I called to inquire, I was told that there was a procedural problem.”

The issue was discussed at the annual philately day meeting, in the end of December. The Postal Service didn’t explain what the problem was, but hinted it had to do with an issue Gibraltar had with the picture on the Israeli side of the stamp depicting the King David Citadel.

Gibraltar’s postal service was dismayed with Israel’s choice, since the Jerusalem landmark is located beyond the Green Line. In response they froze the joint project, and Israeli attempts at replacing the picture with pictures of other landmarks were futile.

Israeli stamp collectors do not remember any cases in which a stamp issuing was cancelled due to political controversy. Moshe Rimmer, one of the leading stamp collectors in Israel said: “As far as I know, the stamp hasn’t been released to the market, neither in Israel nor in Gibraltar. If you find one, you could become very rich.”