During an official visit to Greece, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas announced plans on Monday to begin issuing passports for the “State of Palestine” rather than the Palestinian Authority.
Abbas said that the change will be implemented in about a year.
The announcement follows a failed attempt at a similar plan in 2012, which Abbas announced after an overwhelming majority of UN member states voted to upgrade the PA’s status to “non-member observer state”.
At the time, Abbas instructed the PA to re-issue official documents like passports, identity cards, registration documents, vehicle licenses, driver’s licenses, stamps and postmarks, replacing “Palestinian Authority” with “State of Palestine”.
However, he later pulled back from the plan. According to his PA associates, Abbas was nervous that Israel would refuse to recognize the new passports and would not allow Palestinian Arabs through Israel’s border crossings.
Whether or not similar fears or threats will hold Abbas back from creating passports for the “State of Palestine” in the coming year remains to be seen. While Palestine’s status has not undergone a significant change since the 2012 UN resolution, many individual countries have chosen to officially recognize Palestine as a state.
Greece, where Abbas is now paying an official visit to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, is set to vote on the question on Tuesday. The Greek resolution to recognize the State of Palestine is widely expected to pass with ease, likely prompting Abbas’s current confidence.
At his meeting with Tsipras in Athens on Monday, Abbas said that ending the Israeli “occupation” would also end terrorism. “Ending the occupation will put a halt to all of the problems associated with it, such as terrorism,” he stated. “And the end of terrorism will lead to finding solutions to problems arising from it like immigration.”
He added that the PA “hold[s] out our hand to the Israeli side to cooperate on finding a solution to the Palestinian problem.”
His pro-peace rhetoric is an abrupt shift from his recent incitement to terror and violence against Israelis.