Region | Palestinian Territories

Israel rejects ‘State of Palestine’ passports

Occupation’s refusal to recognise passports could lead to Palestinian woes

  • By Nasouh Nazzal Correspondent
  • Published: 18:09 January 7, 2013
  • Gulf News

Ramallah: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the decision by Palestinian National Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to change the name of the PNA to the State of Palestine, branding the move as a serious violation of the diplomatic process.

Netanyahu said in an official statement in response to Abbas’ presidential decree that he and his government strictly refuse Abbas’ decision to issue Palestinian passports and identity cards, postal stamps and driving licences labelling the governing authority as the State of Palestine.

“A Palestinian independent state will be created only after a peace agreement with Israel, that ends all the claims of the both sides,” said Netanyahu in his statement.

“Abbas’ move is politically empty and will not have any practical effect on the ground,” he said.

Netanyahu stressed that Abbas’ move was a serious violation to the agreements signed between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Abbas had earlier issued a presidential decree ordering the immediate change of the PNA to the State of Palestine after the status of Palestine was upgraded to a non-member state at the UN General Assembly.

According to the decree, Abbas has given the Palestinian government a two month grace period to replace old PNA passports with new ones citing the State of Palestine, and to report to the president on the hardships and obstacles which might face the government in reaching this goal.

The decree instructed the government to decide about the procedures needed to start the issuance of Palestinian passports and identity cards.

Political analysts and experts of international law branded the Palestinian move as trivial, and without a real affect on the ground, but the move could start a bloody confrontation between the Palestinians and Israel.

Dr Hanna Eisa, a Palestinian professor and expert in international law, told Gulf News that Israel, as an occupying power, still runs the Palestinian Territories. “The Palestinians do not have any kind of sovereignty on the ground,” he said. “The legal situation is critical, and it is complicated.”

“It was better for the Palestinians to demand the implementation of the rules of international humanitarian law on the ground instead of seeking such trivial matters that will deliver no good for the Palestinians,” he said.

“The issue of replacing PNA with the State of Palestine needed a lot more study, consideration and consultation,” he claimed.

The PNA was created following the Oslo Accords signed between the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Israel in 1994. “An end to the Israeli occupation in the Palestinian Territories is what really matters, not the change of the names - which can also create serious problems from a legal perspective,” he said.

Dr Eisa argues that the UN General Assembly resolution which upgraded the status of Palestine to a non-member state cannot be the basis for the switch of the governing authority’s status to a state. “The UN resolution is more of an ethical one rather than a real decision,” said Dr Eisa.

From a legal perspective, Dr Eisa said that Palestinian presidential decree has essentially abolish the PNA. “The question now is that are we ready to abolish the PNA totally?” he asked.

“The relevant presidential decree should therefore be followed by another one that abolishes the PNA and announces an immediate end to the Oslo Accords,” he stressed.

The Israeli occupation authorities tightly control the crossings, bridges and road checkpoints in the West Bank and could ban those holding passports showing State of Palestine from travelling.

When the Oslo Accords were signed, Israel refused to allow the PLO to write on the Palestinian passports “PNA” and ordered it to write only Palestinian Authority (PA). Israel then argued that the term ‘national’ would indicate independence. “Israel handles legal expressions and titles, and the Palestinians urgently need to review and reconsider their decision which will switch the PNA to the State of Palestinian,” he said.

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