Daily Israel Report

PLO Officials: No 'Palestine' Passport for Now

Abbas will not rush to issue "State of Palestine" passports, fearing a conflict with Israel, PLO officials claim.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/8/2013, 5:16 AM

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
Flash 90

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will not rush to issue "State of Palestine" passports, fearing a conflict with Israel, PLO officials stated on Monday.

Reports on Sunday indicated that Abbas was taking another step in his bid to officially name the areas he controls "the State of Palestine", issuing new guidelines ordering the PA government to re-issue passports, identity cards, registration documents, vehicle licenses, driver's licenses, stamps and postmarks.

Abbas's new guidelines dictate that a new emblem which reads "the State of Palestine" be placed on all re-issued documents. He previously ordered all of the PA's institutions to stop using the term "Palestinian National Authority" on official documents.

On Monday, however, his associates sought to calm the situation, saying that the entity will not issue the passports or ID cards, fearing Israel would not recognize them and not allow PA Arabs to enter Israel through Israeli crossings.

"At the end of the day, the Palestinian Authority won't cause trouble for its people," Nour Odeh, a spokeswoman for Abbas, told The Associated Press.

Senior PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said the new "Palestine" emblem will be used in correspondence with countries that have recognized a state of Palestine.

"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."

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".

Abbas expressed hope last week that the coming year would see the implementation of a Palestinian state.

Lighting a torch in the grounds of his Ramallah headquarters to start the celebrations of the 48th anniversary of his Fatah movement, he referred to the UN vote as the "birth certificate" of a Palestinian state.

"We have a birth certificate... and we want to complete the march toward full independence," Abbas said. "Next year, 2013, will be the year of statehood and independence."

But while Abbas's associates told AP that the PA would avoid a conflict with Israel over the "Palestine" passport, an official with Abbas's Fatah party told the PA-based Ma'an news agency something different.

Fatah spokesman Ahmad Assaf indicated that the PA leadership couldn't care less about Israel's objections to planned State of Palestine passports and other identity documents.

"Since when does the occupier allow the occupied to attain liberation and self determination?" Assaf told Ma'an.

"If we had waited for Israeli approval, we would still have been living in the time before the PA (government was established), because Israel doesn’t want any Palestinians to live in this land and this is a fact," he claimed.

He continued, "The whole world supports us while Israel is politically isolated, and if it’s 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 capital," said Assaf.