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News

Name change to Palestine following UN observer bid

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered the Palestinian Authority to officially change its name to the State of Palestine. The move follows Palestine's successful bid for UN non-member observer status.

Abbas gave the order Sunday in the West Bank, telling the government to begin work on updating passports, ID cards, drivers' licenses and stamps to read "State of Palestine," the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Abbas said the change would help to strengthen the Palestinian state "on the ground and build its institutions … and its sovereignty over its land."

The foreign ministry and embassies around the world led the change when Abbas ordered them last week to use "State of Palestine" in official correspondence.

Palestine won UN non-member observer status in a November vote at the General Assembly. Israel objected to Palestine's bid for statehood, saying it was a unilateral step aimed at bypassing direct peace negotiations.

Palestinians say their new status in the UN will strengthen their position in negotiations with Israel and is a compliment to future talks.

Israel still controls most of the West Bank. The Israeli foreign ministry did not comment on Palestine's latest move.

dr/ch (AFP, AP)