#1. Palestinian news service - Fatah official says issuing passports
Leaders unmoved by Israeli objections to State of Palestine IDs
Published yesterday (updated) 07/01/2013 18:15
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian leadership couldn't care less about
Israel's objections to planned State of Palestine passports and other
identity documents, a Fatah official said Monday.
Party spokesman Ahmad Assaf said Israel's opposition to the measure,
implemented after the UN accepted Palestine as a non-member state in
November, would not change their course.
"Since when does the occupier allow the occupied to attain liberation and
self determination?" he remarked.
"If we had waited for Israeli approval, we would still have been living in
the time before the PA (government was established), because Israel doesnít
want any Palestinians to live in this land and this is a fact."
He continued: "The whole world supports us while Israel is politically
isolated, and if itís necessary we will go to the UN again and the
International Criminal Court and other bodies."
"The Palestinian train has started and will not stop until it arrives at its
destination: an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its
On Sunday, President Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree giving the cabinet two
months to come up with regulations to issue identity documents bearing the
State of Palestine.
Passports, identity cards, population records, vehicle and driving licenses,
and postage stamps are included in the decree. It follows similar amendments
this week instructing official papers to bear the State of Palestine header,
and embassies to use the State designation.
The office of the Israeli prime minister responded by calling the measure
"devoid of any political meaning and creates no practical impact on the
ground," in a statement quoted by the Voice of Israel radio.
"A Palestinian state will only be created as part of a peace agreement with
Israel," the statement continued, echoing Israel and the US' objections to
the November UN vote.
At the General Assembly meeting, 138 states voted in favor of accepting the
#2 State of Palestine name change shows limitations
By MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH and KARIN LAUB
Published: Monday, January 7, 2013 at 4:57 p.m.
RAMALLAH, West Bank - With U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state in his
pocket, President Mahmoud Abbas wants official documents to carry a new
emblem: "State of Palestine."
But scrapping the old "Palestinian Authority" logo is as far as Abbas is
willing to go in provoking Israel. He is not rushing to change passports and
ID cards Palestinians need to pass through Israeli crossings.
The very modesty of Abbas' move to change official stationery underscores
his limited options so long as Israel remains in charge of territories the
world says should one day make up that state.
"At the end of the day, the Palestinian Authority won't cause trouble for
its people," Nour Odeh, a spokeswoman for Abbas' self-rule government, said
of the need for caution.
Abbas won overwhelming U.N. General Assembly recognition for a state of
Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in late November, a rare
diplomatic victory over a sidelined Israel. The U.N. nod was important to
the Palestinians because it affirmed the borders of their future state in
lands Israel captured in 1967.
Recognition, however, has not transformed the day-to-day lives of
Palestinians, and some argue that it made things worse. In apparent
retaliation for the U.N. bid, Israel in December withheld its monthly $100
million transfer of tax rebates it collects on behalf of the Palestinian
Authority, further deepening the Abbas government's financial crisis.
Since the U.N. recognition, Abbas has maneuvered between avoiding
confrontation with Israel and finding small ways to change the situation on
Last week, his government press office urged journalists to refer to a state
of Palestine, instead of the Palestinian Authority, the autonomy government
set up two decades ago as part of interim peace deals with Israel.
Palestinian diplomatic missions around the world have been told to use the
new names, including those in countries that did not vote "yes" at the
General Assembly, said Omar Awadallah, a Palestinian Foreign Ministry
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev dismissed the name change as
pointless but declined comment on whether Israel would retaliate in any way.
"Instead of looking for gimmicks, Palestinians should negotiate with Israel
to bring about the end of the conflict," he said. "That will lead to a
situation of two states for two peoples."
Israel objected to Abbas' U.N. bid, accusing him of trying to bypass
negotiations with Israel on the terms of statehood. Such talks have been
frozen for more than four years because Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu disagree on their parameters. Netanyahu says he is
willing to cede land to a Palestinian state but will not withdraw to the
1967 lines or give up any part of east Jerusalem, the Palestinians' desired
Abbas has said negotiations remain his preferred choice, and that U.N.
recognition was meant to improve his leverage with a far more powerful
Israel once talks resume.
Since the U.N. vote, Abbas has shied away from measures that could close the
door to talks by upsetting Israel or the U.S., which also objected to his
Abbas has not taken practical steps toward seeking membership for Palestine
in U.N. agencies, something made possible by the November vote, and his
security forces continue to coordinate with Israeli troops in tracking
Islamic militants in the West Bank.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland expressed U.S.
opposition to using the term "State of Palestine."
"You can't create a state by rhetoric and with labels and names," she told
reporters. "You can only create a state, in this context, through bilateral
negotiations." Nuland called Abbas' decision "provocative, without changing
the condition for the Palestinian people."
She said the U.S. peace envoy for the Mideast, David Hale, was headed to the
region and would meet the Palestinian leader on Tuesday.
Some countries, such as Brazil, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras, have
adopted the new name. Others, like Norway, Sweden and Spain, stick to the
Palestinian Authority term even though they supported U.N. recognition.
Analysts said Abbas holds out hope that President Barack Obama will get more
involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his second term and - freed
from the restraints of seeking re-election - take a tougher stance toward
"He still hopes to resume peace talks in line with U.S. efforts,"
Palestinian analyst Hani al-Masri said of Abbas.
"Therefore, he is making these slight changes because people expect him to
make changes after the U.N. recognition."
Still, the gap between the symbolic U.N. nod and the reality on the ground
The Palestinian Authority administers some 38 percent of the West Bank, but
Israel maintains overall control over the territory. Abbas has no say in
east Jerusalem, annexed by Israel in 1967, or in Gaza, seized by his
political rival, the Islamic militant group Hamas, in 2007.
The documents and stationery with the new emblem will be ready within two
months, said Hassan Alawi, a deputy interior minister in the Palestinian
Israeli officials declined comment Monday on whether Israel would refuse to
deal with documents bearing the "State of Palestine" logo. However, Alawi
said his office was informed by Israeli officials after Abbas' decree that
"they will not deal with any new form of passport or ID."
Saeb Erekat, a senior Abbas aide, said the new emblem will be used in
correspondence with countries that have recognized a state of Palestine.
He suggested that there would be no change in passports or other documents
Palestinians need for movement through Israeli crossings.
"As far as the Israelis are concerned, we are not going to overload the
wagon of our people by putting state of Palestine on passports," he said.
"They (Israelis) will not allow them to travel."
Palestinians must pass through Israeli-run crossings to leave the West Bank
and also carry an ID card at all times or risk arrest if stopped at an
Israeli military checkpoint inside the territory.
The name change has even less meaning for Palestinians in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
Israel withdrew from the coastal strip in 2005 but continues to control
access by air, sea and land, with the exception of one Gaza border crossing
"For me, it's just ink on paper," said Sharif Hamda, a 44-year-old
pharmacist in Gaza City. "I wished they would save the money they will spend
on this and use it for helping needy families."
Laub reported from Jericho, West Bank. Associated Press writers Ibrahim
Barzak in Gaza City, Gaza Strip and Bradley Klapper in Washington