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With U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state, President Mahmoud Abbas wants official documents to carry a new emblem: “State of Palestine.” But scrapping the old “Palestinian Authority” logo is as far as Abbas is willing to go in provoking Israel. He is not rushing to change passports and ID cards Palestinians need to pass through Israeli crossings.
The Palestinian Authority administers some 38 percent of the West Bank, but Israel maintains overall control over the territory. Abbas has no say in east Jerusalem, annexed by Israel in 1967, or in Gaza, seized by his political rival, the Islamic militant group Hamas, in 2007. Palestinians must pass through Israeli-run crossings to leave the West Bank and also carry an ID card at all times or risk arrest if stopped at an Israeli military checkpoint inside the territory.
The entire world represented at the UN and the leaders of Europe had all agreed on this also. World public opinion had also recognised that this was the only solution: That the Palestinians and their rights should be recognised as an independent Palestinian state on the Israeli occupied West Bank of the Jordan. The name change has even less meaning for Palestinians in Hamas-ruled Gaza. Israel withdrew from the coastal strip in 2005 but continues to control access by air, sea and land, with the exception of one Gaza border crossing with Egypt.
“For me, it’s just ink on paper,” said Sharif Hamda, a 44-year-old pharmacist in Gaza City. “I wished they would save the money they will spend on this and use it for helping needy families.”
Ted Rudow III, MA