ISSN 2330-717X

Abbas-Led PA Strips Outspoken Critic Of Diplomatic Passport


By Mohammed Najib


The Palestinian Authority has withdrawn the diplomatic passport of Nasser Al-Kidwa, a former senior diplomat, over his opposition to the policies of President Mahmoud Abbas.

Al-Kidwa, 68, nephew of the late president Yasser Arafat, told Arab News from France that the withdrawal of his diplomatic passport took place shortly after Abbas announced an amendment to the diplomatic law on Feb. 6.

The diplomatic passport had been replaced with an ordinary document, with a change of profession from diplomat to dentist, he said.

Al-Kidwa represented the Palestine Liberation Organization at the UN from 1986 to 1991. He was appointed as permanent observer of the PLO at the UN until 2004, then served as foreign minister of the PA from 2005 to 2006 until Hamas won legislative elections and the Abbas-led Fatah was defeated.

He graduated as a dentist in 1979, but never worked professionally in the field. A “dentist” classification on a passport normally requires membership of Palestine’s dental association.


Al-Kidwa expressed concern that the details of his last passport would be lost, leaving him unable to enter the Palestinian territories, which are controlled by Israel.

He warned that the PA move was “part of a series of actions that reflect the current Palestinian leadership’s style of work, which violates laws and does not prioritize national interests — and aligns with Israeli desires, that is no logic, no respect for laws, and no public interest.”

Critics have warned of the risks of Abbas’ “decision by decree” style, which they say has led to an autocratic system in Palestine.

The new amendment to the law allows Abbas to reward loyalists with diplomatic passports, opponents claim. Categories of people eligible for the special passport have been expanded, while critics have been suppressed through the withdrawal of their own diplomatic passports.

In addition to his Palestinian passport, Al-Kidwa has a French passport by virtue of his French wife, but has only used it to enter that country.

“In the last amendment to the law on granting the diplomatic passport, the president gave himself the absolute right to grant the passport to anyone he wants and withdraw it from anyone he wants, even though deciding on it is the work of the Foreign Ministry and not the president, and this cannot be legal,” he told Arab News.

Al-Kidwa added that he “does not trust” the Palestinian judicial system to retrieve his withdrawn passport, and believes that the ruling authority “dominates” the judicial system.

Palestinian legal experts told Arab News that there is a vague clause in the new law that is likely to have been used in Al-Kidwa’s case, and may further be used against Abbas’ opponents.

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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