What Are The Political Implications of the Palestinian Web Suffix?

A Palestinian web suffix is an attribute of statehood and carries political significance.

Last week Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Allah announced that the .PS suffix has officially been activated on the websites of the Palestinian Authority (PA). On the World Wide Web, the suffix .PS signifies that the Palestinian entity is a state. Although seemingly inconsequential, this development carries political significance.

What is the Issue?

Israel and the Palestinians have recently inverted their stances regarding the political process:

  • In the past, Israel resisted the Palestinian demand for a state (even with provisional borders);
  • Now it is the Palestinians who resist a state with provisional borders, while Israel demands adherence to the Second Phase of the Roadmap, which calls for the establishment of a Palestinian State with provisional borders.

Background

  • In 1988 (Algiers Declaration) the Palestinians declared the establishment of a Palestinian state despite having no formal presence in any part of Mandatory Palestine. About a 100 countries recognized this declaration.
  • The framework of the Oslo Process (Palestinian State after a Permanent Status Agreement), on the one hand, and the shared interests of Israel and the PLO, on the other hand, denied the PA power and responsibilities on many salient issues of international affairs – foreign representatives to the PA, appointment of PA ambassadors abroad, PA membership in international organizations or even an international dial code.
  • Throughout the Oslo Process until 2000, the Palestinians demanded their right to establish a state, even with provisional borders, threatening to declare unilateral independence multiple times (5/99, 9/00, 11/00).
  • Israel threatened to actively prevent the declaration and realization of Palestinian independence.

February 2005 – The Inversion

  • In February 2005, Abu-Mazen announced that a Palestinian State (with provisional borders) is a trap. The Palestinian side is now interested in statehood only as part of a comprehensive Permanent Status agreement.
  • Israel announced that it remains committed to the Roadmap - Palestinian State with provisional borders before Permanent Status). This is despite the appearance that the Palestinians will not agree to it.

Why is this important? Why now?

Activating the Palestinian internet suffix:

  • Contradicts the spirit of the Interim Agreement as it constitutes a symbol of sovereignty of Palestinian statehood; however
  • Coincides with the Roadmap i.e. with the idea of a Palestinian State in Provisional Borders/Roadmap;

Therefore, apparently, the new web suffix:

  • undermines Israel's position and coincides with the Palestinians' before inversion;
  • undermines Abu-Mazen's new position and coincides with Israel's after the inversion.

Policy-Options

Theoretically, the activation of a Palestinian web suffix is contrary to the spirit of the Oslo Process. However, it constitutes an additional sign that the Palestinian entity is a state-in-the-making albeit in provisional borders.

In light of the inversion of positions between Israel and the Palestinians regarding the political process, does it make sense to maintain the restrictions placed on the powers and responsibilities of the PA in international affairs?