On Sunday, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree giving his cabinet two months to come up with regulations to issue identity documents bearing the State of Palestine logo.
The decree covers passports, identity cards, population records, vehicle and driving licenses, postage stamps, official papers and embassies.
Abbas reminds me of the cliché new business owner who starts by ordering stationary and business cards. I say, make your first sale, then go to Kinko’s.
That’s what State Dept. Spokesperson Victoria Nuland was thinking, I’ll bet, when she was asked on Monday to comment on Abbas’s renaming the Authority the “State of Palestine.”
“You can’t create a state by rhetoric and with labels and names,” she said. “You can only create a state in this context through bilateral negotiations.”
Nuland added that “our policy on continuing to call it the Palestinian Authority until such time that there is a negotiated agreement for a state with borders will not change.”
Phew… That’s gotta’ be a load off our mind. But the questions persisted:
“So you don’t really take a position on the decision to start calling themselves the State of Palestine?”
The spokesperson dutifully repeated her previous answer, more or less. It doesn’t matter what they name themselves, they could call it the Galactic Empire of Palestine, they’d still have to stop at an Israeli checkpoint and present their papers.
Indeed, Ynet reported that Abbas is not rushing to change passports and ID cards which the Palestinians need to pass through Israeli crossings.
“At the end of the day, the Palestinian Authority won’t cause trouble for its people,” Abbas’ spokeswoman Nour Odeh, told Ynet.
But PLO spokesman Ahmad Assaf sounded extremely militant on Tuesday morning, declaring: “The Palestinian 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 challenged. “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.”
And vice versa…
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office said Abbas’s decree was “devoid of any political meaning and creates no practical impact on the ground. A Palestinian state will only be created as part of a peace agreement with Israel.”