Peace Negotiator: “State of Palestine” Passports Would Be “Clear Violation” of Oslo Accords

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ recently announced plan to issue passports marked “State of Palestine” next year would violate the Oslo Accords and further undermine the cause of peace, Ambassador Alan Baker, who helped draft the accords, wrote Thursday in an analysis for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Calling the plan “a further, clear violation of the Oslo Accords,” which he described as “a series of reciprocal Palestinian and Israeli commitments made between 1993-1999,” Baker explained that the PA’s legal right to issue passports stems from the agreements. Outside of the Oslo framework, the PA may not independently administer such documentation.

Clearly, any issuance of a Palestinian passport outside the agreed framework of the Oslo Accords as detailed above, would be at stark variance with the Palestinian commitments pursuant to the agreements.

Since the Oslo Accords were co-signed and witnessed by the leaders of the United States, the European Union, the Russian Federation, Egypt, and Norway, and endorsed by the United Nations, the issuance of independent passports is in clear and blatant violation of the accords. Passports purporting to be in the name of a non-existent “State of Palestine,” will have no validity and should not be accepted by Israel or by those states and organizations advocating the resumption of negotiations within the framework of the Oslo peace process.

The plan to issue “State of Palestine” passports would be the latest blow to Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts by Abbas as he pursues statehood unilaterally.

Abbas’ predecessor, Yasser Arafat, committed in Oslo to “renounc[ing] the use of terrorism” and to the “peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides … through negotiations.” Although Jerusalem has ceded land to the PA, Palestinian groups have continued to engage in terror against Israelis, and Abbas has on multiple occasions expressed his intention to abandon the format of bilateral negotiations altogether. Notably, in 2011, Abbas wrote that internationalizing the conflict with Israel politically would “pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice.”

While Abbas has claimed that he prefers to pursue the unilateral approach for statehood because of Israeli intransigence, he has consistently refused to deal with Israel bilaterally. Abbas himself acknowledged last month that he turned down then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s peace offer in 2008. Former Israeli negotiator, Tzipi Livni, said that it was Abbas who sabotaged the American-sponsored peace talks early last year.

In The Palestinian Endgame, which was published in the October 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine, Ben Cohen and Benjamin Kerstein analyzed the possible rationale behind Abbas’ strategy.

It might be to set the Palestinians on a long march through the world’s various global institutions. Trusting to the international establishment’s fetishization of the Palestinian cause, the PA can join international organizations and treaties, and press for war crimes charges against Israel at the International Criminal Court. As a result, Abbas may believe, Israel will be compelled to concede a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital. This would cancel out the need to actually negotiate and, inevitably, make unpalatable concessions.

[Photo: Aaed Tayeh / Flash90 ]