Thursday,19 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1130, 10 - 16 January 2013
Thursday,19 October, 2017
Issue 1130, 10 - 16 January 2013

Ahram Weekly

What’s in a name?

The PA moves to rebrand itself the “State of Palestine” ahead of Israeli elections likely to bring in the most right wing government yet seen, writes Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah

Al-Ahram Weekly

The Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership seems to have backed away from earlier threats to dissolve the Ramallah regime if Israel goes ahead with announced plans to build an additional 75,000 settler units in Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank.

Instead, the PA leadership has decided to officially change name of the Palestinian Authority to the “State of Palestine”.

The move comes in the aftermath of the November resolution by the UN General Assembly to upgrade the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) status to that of a non-member observer state.

According to instructions from the PA chairman’s office, all communications, stamps, stationary and official documents will now bear the new name. A PA statement said the move was intended to enhance Palestinian sovereignty on the ground and constituted a step forward to real independence.

Israel has rejected the largely symbolic Palestinian step, calling it “unilateral” and in violation of the Oslo Accords.

Israeli officials said Israel wouldn’t deal with Palestinian documents bearing the name of “state of Palestine”.

In the past, Israel rejected and “returned to sender” documents bearing the name “Palestinian National Authority”. Israeli officials argued then that the word “National” was an unacceptable addition since it was not contained in the original agreement.

As a result of the Israeli rejection, the PA left out the word “national” from all of its documents, including Palestinian passports, identity cards, even birth certificates. The word “national”, however, remained in all intra-Palestinian dealing, especially the media.

It is uncertain how the PA is going to enforce its latest decision. Observers in occupied Palestine opine the PA won’t enter into a confrontation with Israel on this matter. Israel is due to organise general elections 22 January as Israeli parties and politicians vie amongst each other to appear more anti-Palestinian in order to impress a generally rightist electorate.

Nonetheless, the Palestinian step is seen as an attempt to “up the ante” with the next Israeli government expected to be more extreme and hawkish than any other in Israel’s history.

According to the latest opinion polls in Israel, the settlers’ party, known as the Jewish Home, is likely to become the third largest party in the Knesset, or Israeli parliament.

The party rejects any peace deal with the Palestinians involving “territorial concessions”. The Talmudic-indoctrinated party calls for the annexation of the West Bank, reoccupation of the Gaza Strip, and subjugation or expulsion of Palestinians.

The party’s chief, Naftali Bennet, said during an electioneering campaign that his party would never allow the creation of a Palestinian state.

“There will never be a Palestinian state between Jordan and the Mediterranean. No one would support my political plan outside Israel, but no one outside Israel recognises Kazrin, Ramot and Gilo, but we do, and we’ve exercised sovereignty there,” Bennet said, referring to settlements built in the occupied West Bank.

 

LAMBASTING ARABS: Meanwhile, PA officials have lashed out at rich Arab states for procrastinating or reneging on financial pledges to the Ramallah regime, which is facing an unprecedented crisis due to a dearth of foreign financial aid and also to Israel’s refusal to transfer to PA coffers tax and customs revenues that Israel levies on behalf of the Palestinians in accordance with the 1994 Paris Protocol economic agreement.

This week, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said his government was “very close to being completely incapacitated” due to the failure of Arab countries to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars in promised aid. Fayyad said the problem, if allowed to continue, would quickly double the number of Palestinian poor to 50 per cent of the population of nearly five million.

“The financing problem that we’ve had in the last few years is solely due to some Arab donors not fulfilling their pledges of support in accordance with Arab League decisions.”

The Palestinian prime minister said that by and large Europe and the United States were honouring their respective commitments, with the exception of $200 million held back by the US Congress as punishment for failing to heed Israeli demands and dictates.

In recent weeks, a number of Fatah officials and spokespersons accused oil-rich Arab countries of “carrying out American orders” to refrain from honouring financial contributions to the Palestinians.

The charges, which were not confirmed by an independent third party, seemed to have reflected mounting frustration inside the PA due to the unmitigated financial crisis and also political deadlock facing stalled talks with Israel.

This week, the Israeli media reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu quietly decided to suspend acting on a cabinet decision taken in November to build more than 3000 settler units in East Jerusalem.

A source in Netanyahu’s office denied that the plan, known as E-1, had been scrapped.

The plan drew strong condemnation from the international community, including Israel’s guardian-ally, the United States, and the European Union.

If reports about freezing the huge settlement between occupied East Jerusalem and the colony of Maali Adumim are correct, pundits say it will be possible for the PA leadership to resume stalled talks with Israel as soon as a new government in Israel is formed.

But in this case, the PA would lose face, having always vowed to refuse resumption of talks with Israel if the latter refused to stop settlement expansion and pledged to return to the borders of 4 June 1967.

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