With UN recognition of a Palestinian state in his pocket, 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.
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"At the end of the day, the Palestinian Authority won't cause trouble for its people," Nour Odeh, a spokeswoman for Abbas' self-rule government, said of the need for caution.
Last week, his government press office urged journalists to refer to a state of Palestine, instead of the Palestinian Authority.
Palestinian diplomatic missions around the world have been told to use the new names, including those in countries that did not vote "yes" at the General Assembly, said Omar Awadallah, a Palestinian Foreign Ministry official.
Some countries, such as Brazil, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras, have adopted the new name. Others, like Norway, Sweden and Spain, stick to the Palestinian Authority term even though they supported UN recognition.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev dismissed the name change as pointless but did not say on whether Israel would retaliate in any way.
"Instead of looking for gimmicks, Palestinians should negotiate with Israel to bring about the end of the conflict," he said. "That will lead to a situation of two states for two peoples."
Israeli officials declined comment Monday on whether Israel would refuse to deal with documents bearing the "State of Palestine" logo. However, Hassan Alawi, a deputy interior minister in the Palestinian Authority, said his office was informed by Israeli officials after Abbas' decree that "they will not deal with any new form of passport or ID."
Saeb Erekat, a senior Abbas aide, suggested that there would be no change in passports or other documents Palestinians need for movement through Israeli crossings.
"As far as the Israelis are concerned, we are not going to overload the wagon of our people by putting state of Palestine on passports," he said. "They (Israelis) will not allow them to travel."
The name change has even less meaning for Palestinians in Hamas-ruled Gaza. "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."
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