After Upgrading Satus, UN officially Switches from “Palestine” to “State of Palestine”

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While legislative scholars and political pundits continue to debate the exact meaning of the upgrade of the Palestinians to a nonmember observer state, the United Nations last week officially changed the way it refers to the body: it’s now the “State of Palestine,” as opposed to merely “Palestine.”

The name change is based on an opinion by the UN’s legal department, and might not have any practical implications on the ground, Israeli officials say. But on a symbolic level, the decision will likely boost aspirations of Palestinian leaders who hope their newly gained status will help them establish a full-fledged independent state in the future.

Immediately after the General Assembly vote to upgrade the Palestinians in November, UN officials still opposed Palestinian diplomats’ efforts to independently change “Palestine” to “State of Palestine” in the name of their permanent observer mission.

The results of a draft resolution on Palestinian status are posted in the United Nations headquarters, Thursday, November 29 (photo credit: AP/Kathy Willens)

Scholars of international law are still arguing whether Palestine can truly be considered a state, since it does not fulfill all criteria that usually determine statehood.

But the organization’s head of protocol, Yeocheol Yoon, last week confirmed that “the designation of ‘State of Palestine’ shall be used by the Secretariat in all official United Nations documents,” according to the Open Zion blog.

The UN’s official list of all permanent missions in New York has since been updated to reflect the name change. It used to refer to the “Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine.” As of Thursday, the so-called Blue Book speaks of the “Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine.”

The head of the Palestinian UN mission, Riyad Mansour, requested the name change on December 12.

“It is gratifying, not only for me personally, but for the Palestinian people, to celebrate as a nation,”  Mansour told Open Zion. “It’s not only a change of name, it’s much more than that: now the United Nations is recognizing us as the State of Palestine.”

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem had no immediate comment.

“Within the boundaries of the UN, all these moves are perfectly in tune. Of course, all this only holds for the glass tower on 45th Street,” an Israeli official told The Times of Israel, referring to the UN headquarter’s Manhattan location. “In the real world outside the tower, reality is somewhat different.”

When the General Assembly upgraded Palestine’s status to that of a nonmember observer state on November 29, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to declare the vote was “meaningless” and “will not change anything on the ground.”

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, repeatedly said that he rejects the notion of a General Assembly resolution having the power to declare Palestine a real state. “This resolution will not confer statehood on the Palestinian Authority, which clearly fails to meet the criteria for statehood,” he said on November 29, moments before 138 countries voted in favor of the resolution, with nine objecting and 41 abstaining.

On its website, the United Nations indeed suggests that it had no power to recognize new states, since only other states or governments could do that. “The United Nations is neither a State nor a Government, and therefore does not possess any authority to recognize either a State or a Government,” the statement reads.

A spokesperson for the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process did not respond to repeated requests for clarification of the body’s stance regarding Palestinian statehood.

In the immediate aftermath of the GA vote, UN officials had still refused to comply with Palestinian requests for a name change. When they saw that the sign on the Palestinian delegation’s bench in the General Assembly Hall that used to say “Palestine” had been replaced with a sign reading “State of Palestine,” they demanded the new sign be replaced with the old one.

As long as Palestine is merely a nonmember state, the officials insisted, it cannot independently ask for its name to be changed on the sign adorning its bench.

But as of last week, all official documents and nameplates at the UN will refer to the “State of Palestine,” according to Open Zion. Also, the UN’s protocol chief has “noted” the “new status” Mansour requested for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas —  “Head of State of the State of Palestine.”

Since the Palestinian mission to the UN does not represent the PA but rather the Palestine Liberation Organization — of which Abbas is also the head — the UN recognizes him as president of Palestine, the site reported.

Yet this does not mean that the UN also automatically considers PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad the prime minister of the new state. “The Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority is not exactly the prime minister of the State of Palestine,” Mansour said. This could change, however, as soon as the PLO’s executive committee — “the acting government of the State of Palestine” — makes a decision to that effect.

Source: Times Of Israel

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One thought on “After Upgrading Satus, UN officially Switches from “Palestine” to “State of Palestine”

  • December 25, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Jewish presence in Palestine goes much farther back than most Palestinians, as well as Arabs and Muslims in general, would be willing to admit.

    Before 1948, Palestine was ruled by a series of empires. Before that Palestine was Judaea—a Jewish country. Jews have lived in Palestine continuously for more than 3,300 years. “Palestine” was the name given to the Jewish homeland in the second century by the Romans, in an attempt to break the Jewish adherence to the land. This was a century after the Jewish temple was destroyed and more than a million Jews were massacred.

    The Jews stopped fighting the Romans only after they had no more fighting men standing. As Evangelist William Eugene Blackstone put it in 1891, “The Jews never gave up their title to Palestine… They never abandoned the land. They made no treaty, they did not even surrender. They simply succumbed, after the most desperate conflict, to the overwhelming power of the Romans.”

    The Jews persisted through the centuries under the various empires, after the Arab invasion of 635AD (which they fought alongside the Byzantines), and after the Crusade massacres of the 11th Century, which decimated much of their population.

    Few Palestinians realize that Jewish customs, religion, prayers, poetry, holidays, and virtually every walk of life, documented for thousands of years—all revolve around Judaea/Palestine/Israel. For thousands of years Jews have been praying for Jerusalem in every prayer, after every meal, in every holiday, at every wedding, in every celebration. The whole Jewish religion is about Jerusalem and the Land of Israel. Western expressions such as “The Promised Land,” and “The Holy Land,” did not pop out of void. They have been part of Western knowledge and tradition dating back to the beginning of Christianity and earlier.

    After the Crusades, the Jews—including many who have returned over the centuries—lived peacefully with Arabs, often in the very same villages, as in Pki’in, in the Galilee, until the Zionist immigration of the 19th and 20th Centuries. Article 6 of the PLO Charter specifically calls for the acceptance of all Jews present in Palestine prior to the Zionist immigration. These Jews were simply another ethnic group in a region composed of Sunnis, Shiites, Jews, Druz, Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Circassians, Samarians, and more. Some of these groups, like the Druz, Circassians, Samarians, and an increasing number of Christians, are actually loyal to the Jewish State.

    Incidentally, genetic studies consistently show that Zionist immigrants (a.k.a., Ashkenazi Jews) are closely related to groups that predate the Arab conquest, like the Samarians, who have lived in Palestine for thousands of year.

    Palestinian denial of these facts may lead to events such as the ones brilliantly depicted in Jonathan Bloomfield’s award-winning book, “Palestine,” in which actual history and predicted events are thinly veiled as fiction.

    If, as the current Palestinian narrative goes, the Jews are not a people indigenous to Palestine but rather an invading foreign colonialist body, then they must be fought until they are removed from this land. Anything short of that, by any standard, is injustice.

    Thus, war and bloodshed will continue until the Palestinians start acknowledging the Jewish narrative, and the fact that Jewish roots in Palestine date back thousands of years, long before the Arab invasion.

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