Abbas Orders to Issue 'Palestine' Passports
Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is taking another step in his bid to officially name the areas he controls "the State of Palestine".
After he ordered all of the PA's institutions to stop using the term "Palestinian National Authority" on official documents, Abbas published new guidelines on Sunday, which order the PA government to re-issue passports, identity cards, registration documents, vehicle licenses, driver's licenses, stamps and postmarks.
Abbas's guidelines dictate that a new stamp which reads "the State of Palestine" be placed on all re-issued documents. His guidelines also state that the new "Palestine" ID cards and passports will be used "by all Palestinians, both in Palestine and in the diaspora".
The new orders did not indicate, however, whether Israeli Arabs who are defined by the PA as "Palestinians" will be eligible for citizenship and a passport of the "State of Palestine."
Abbas's moves are a result of his new found confidence after the United Nations overwhelmingly voted in favor of upgrading the PA's status at the organization to that of a "non-member observer state".
A senior PA official revealed the plans for the new "Palestine" passports in a newspaper interview that was published several days after the UN vote. The change to “state” status is important because it shows that “the state of Palestine is occupied,” he said.
However, Abbas’s bid to officially name the territories he controls “the state of Palestine” has not distracted residents from their anger over corruption and the failing economy.
Hundreds of PA Arabs protested late last week in Bethlehem over the PA’s economic policies. Similar protests were held in other cities during the week.
The rally in Bethlehem over “corruption” centered on a new government edict that will see residents of the so-called refugee camps forced to pay for their private electricity use.
The requirement comes as Israel has begun forcing the PA to pay for its electricity use, after allowing it to rack up considerable debt to the Israel Electric Corp. Israel has reportedly agreed to resume transferring taxes it collects on the PA’s behalf under international agreements if the PA pays for its electricity.
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad warned residents that if they refuse to pay for electricity beginning in 2013, they will be required to pay for earlier electricity use as well. Those with low incomes may apply for discounts, he said.