Abbas Orders Issue of ‘Palestine’ Passports

Jan 7 2013 / 6:54 pm

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has asked his West Bank-based government to prepare for replacing the words “Palestinian Authority” with “State of Palestine”.

The order by Abbas on Sunday applies to all public documents, including ID cards, driving licences and passports.

Israeli officials declined comment, including whether Israel would prevent Palestinians with new ID cards and passports from crossing borders and checkpoints.

“Whether the changes are really implemented is unsure because of the political situation right now,” said Al Jazeera’s Jane Ferguson, reporting from Jerusalem. “But the move is to regain momentum after the UN vote.”

In late November, Abbas won UN recognition of a state of Palestine in the occupied West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, overriding Israeli objections to the largely symbolic step.

The UN bid gave the Palestinians new diplomatic leverage by affirming the borders of a future state of Palestine in lands Israel captured in 1967, but changed little in the day-to-day lives of Palestinians.

Set up two decades ago as part of interim peace deals with Israel, the self-rule government was meant to be temporary and replaced by a fully functioning state of Palestine – to be established through negotiations with Israel.

However, those talks repeatedly broke down, and for the past four years the two sides have been unable to agree on the terms of renewing the negotiations.

Financial Turmoil

In an apparent response to the UN move, Israel in December halted its monthly transfer of about $100m in tax rebates it collects on behalf of the Palestinians. That sum amounts to about one-third of the monthly operating costs of the Palestinian Authority, which now only takes in about $50m a month in revenues.

Israel has said it used the withheld money to settle Palestinian Authority debt to Israeli companies, and it is not clear whether the transfers will resume.

As a result, the Palestinian Authority is on the “verge of being completely incapacitated”, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad warned on Sunday.

In an interview with the Associated Press news agency, Fayyad attributed his government’s “extreme jeopardy” and unprecedented financial crisis to failure by Arab countries to send hundreds of millions of dollars in promised aid.

The 22-nation Arab League has not kept a promise to make up for the funds Israel withholds, Fayyad said.

The cash crunch has gradually worsened in recent years, and the Palestinian Authority now has reached the point of not being able to pay the salaries of about 150,000 government employees, Fayyad said.

‘Money Should Go Forward’

While European countries have kept their aid commitments, about $200m in US aid was held up by Congress last year – a sum President Barack Obama’s administration hopes to deliver to the Palestinians this year, along with an additional $250m in aid.

The Palestinian Authority has relied heavily on foreign aid since the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising in 2000.

It has struggled to wean itself off foreign support, in part because harsh Israeli restrictions on Palestinian trade and movement have hurt economic growth.

Only a year ago, Fayyad said he hoped to increase local revenues, including through spending cuts and higher taxes for wealthier Palestinians. But his tax plan was met by widespread protests and modest economic growth slowed.

Fayyad said he managed to pay half of his November salaries by getting a bank loan, using as collateral Arab League promises of future support. He said he cannot pay the rest of the November salaries, let alone December wages.

(Al Jazeera and agencies – www.aljazeera.com)

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1 Comment for “Abbas Orders Issue of ‘Palestine’ Passports”

  1. Elle Rogers

    It saddens me to read of the continued injustice toward Palestine. The excuse that the Palestinians will in some ??? way bring destruction or harm to Israel. When will the world come to know the truth about the cruel and inhumane treatment by the Israeli’s toward the Palestinians. When will the Palestines be able to build homes and communities and reclaim their homeland; the land belongs to the Palestinians. The Israeli’s have borders, boundaries, and for good reason. Because when a people is constantly terrorized and murdered by those who live amongst them. There is no justice and the situation is untenable. The Palestinians must have their homes, schools, mosques, and communities free from the Israeli’s. Without a peaceful agreement, there will be destruction and death like the world has never seen. The Israelis are the most ungodly people on this earth, because of their selfishness and greed. Four generations of Palestinian refugee camps; My God, how can they justify their treatment of the Palestinians. This is not just, It is time that the Israelis return to the land they were given by the U. S. and the Palestinians, ages ago. Stop Israel not because of anti-semitic but anti-Palestinian and genecide toward the Palestinians, Release the Palestinians and rebuild their county and their culture.. Elle

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