Subject: Request for Delegation
of .ps Top-Level Domain
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (the IANA), as part of the administrative functions associated with management of the domain-name system root, is responsible for receiving requests for delegation and redelegation of top-level domains, investigating the circumstances pertinent to those requests, and reporting on the requests. In early 1997, the IANA received a request for delegation of a top-level domain for Palestine. That request was initially declined, but was renewed in October 1999. This report gives the findings and conclusions of the IANA on its investigation of these requests.
In February 1997, the IANA received inquiries about the possibility of delegating a country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Palestine.
Country-code top-level domains in the Internet domain-name system are designated by two-letter codes ("alpha-2 codes") shown on the ISO 3166-1 list maintained by the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency (ISO 3166/MA). That list consists of codes given in the UN Bulletin "Country Names" and in the code list of the "Standard Country or Area Codes for Statistical Use." There is also provision for assignment of codes by the Maintenance Agency in certain limited circumstances in response to a request of the affected national government or national standards body. The ISO 3166-1 list is used worldwide in many applications involving coded information concerning names of countries and of physically separated dependent territories.
At the time of the 1997 inquiries, no code for Palestine was included on the ISO 3166-1 list. Instead, in November 1995 the United Nations Statistics Division had included the name "Palestine" on an interim list of area names and, in response, the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency agreed to set aside the alpha-2 code "ps" to represent the name "Palestine" in the event a later decision was made to include Palestine on the ISO 3166-1 list. In practical effect, such a reservation means that the code reserved should not be used to refer to any other country, territory, or region. In April 1996 the Maintenance Agency formally moved the "ps" code to its list of reserved code elements under the category of "exceptional reservations." At that time, it did not assign the "ps" code to Palestine on the ISO 3166-1 list.
Because no code for Palestine was then on the ISO 3166-1 list, in May 1997, the IANA declined to delegate a ccTLD to Palestine.
In April 1998 the IANA indicated that it would delegate the second-level domain "palestine.int," based on Palestine's Status as a Permanent Observer to the United Nations. The IANA noted that this registration was to be "in lieu of a current top level domain for Palestine and would eventually be transferred to the top level domain when the TLD is accepted by the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency."
Dr Ghassan Z. Qadah, the Supervisor-General of the Government Computer Center in Palestine as well as the Senior Advisor for Technology to the Palestine Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, was proposed to become the designated administrative contact for palestine.int. On 14 May 1998, after investigation showed overwhelming community support for this appointment, the IANA delegated palestine.int, with Dr Qadah named as administrative contact and Dr Yaser Dolah named as technical contact. The palestine.int domain has been in operation since, being used in a limited way for a governmental-purposes third-level domain (gov.palestine.int).
In summer 1999, the United Nations Statistics Division notified the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency that it had included "Occupied Palestinian Territory" on the United Nations list of Standard Country and Area Codes for Statistical Use. On 30 September 1999, the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency announced that effective 1 October 1999 it was adding the alpha-2 code "ps" to the ISO 3166-1 list to designate "Occupied Palestinian Territory."
On 11 October 1999, Drs Qadah and Doleh applied to the IANA for delegation of the .ps top-level domain. Dr Qadah is a computer scientist with a specialty in database algorithms and, as noted above, has headed the Government Computer Center for the Palestinian Authority for several years. Dr Doleh, who resides in New York State, USA, holds a PhD in computer science from Kent State and has done work in system-independent user interfaces.
On 2 February 2000, Dr Nabeel Shaath, Minister of Planning & International Cooperation of the Palestinian Authority, wrote to the IANA stating that his ministry and the Government Computer Center had been entrusted with receiving, managing, operating, and regulating the Palestinian top-level domain.
The IANA has conducted a follow-up to its earlier investigation of the proposed managers, including a review of the Government Computer Center's plans to establish the Palestinian Network Information Center to manage the .ps top-level domain. The IANA finds the plan to be technically sound and to be well-suited to meet the needs of academic, commercial, governmental, and other existing and future Internet users in Palestine. The Government Computer Center is the only information-technology planning unit in Palestine, having led the Y2K campaign there, and has contributed substantially to making the Internet available in Palestine. The IANA's follow-up investigation turned up nothing to show a diminution in the previously observed community support for the applicants serving as trustees for the community as designated managers of a domain for Palestine.
This report is being provided under the 9 February 2000 contract for performance of the IANA function between the United States Government and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Under that contract, the IANA is responsible for receiving delegation requests, investigating the circumstances pertinent to those requests, and reporting on the requests.
The policies currently followed in connection with the delegation of Internet top-level domains are summarized in "Internet Domain Name System Structure and Delegation" (ICP-1), which was issued in May 1999 to reflect "the current policies being followed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) in administering delegations of Top Level Domain Names of the Internet Domain Names System (DNS)." ICP-1 represents an update of the portions of RFC 1591 (which was issued in March 1994) dealing with ccTLDs, to reflect evolution of the policies followed by the IANA through May 1999. Although there is ongoing consideration within the ICANN process of proposals for changes in policies concerning ccTLDs, no significant policies have yet been adopted that are at variance with ICP-1.
The delegation request raises two principal issues: (a) should a .ps ccTLD be delegated and, (b) if so, are the proposed managers the appropriate ones.
A threshold issue is whether a .ps top-level should be delegated at all, in view of Palestine's special status. This issue is answered by section (i) of ICP-1, which makes the ISO 3166-1 table the authoritative reference as to which ccTLDs are subject to delegation. Assessments regarding sovereignty and nationhood are not among the IANA's functions. Indeed, many of the alpha-2 codes included on the ISO 3166-1 list, for which ccTLDs have been established and delegated, are plainly not "countries" at all, but are instead dependencies of other countries. Examples include Heard Island and McDonald Islands (.hm) (a territory of Australia), Netherlands Antilles (.an) (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands), and Puerto Rico (.pr) (a commonwealth associated with the US). A top-level domain for Antarctica (.aq), which also appears on the ISO 3166-1 list, has also been established and delegated.
Because the IANA is not in the business of assessing whether or not particular areas are "countries," the policy set forth in ICP-1 and RFC 1591 for delegation matters has been to avoid political considerations and simply refer to the ISO 3166-1 list as an independent source of two-letter abbreviations for countries and areas. The ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency, in determining which countries and areas should be provided codes on the ISO 3166-1 list, looks to two other lists provided by the United Nations Statistics Division. As noted by the Statistics Division in connection with its listing of countries and areas: "The designations employed and the presentation of country or area names in this list do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries." Thus, it is well-settled under current delegation policy that issues about the legal status of a listed entry on the ISO 3166-1 list are not pertinent to whether a ccTLD should be established and delegated.
After over two years of deliberations, the United Nations Statistics Division and the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency have determined that a code should be provided for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and the code .ps code has been added to the ISO 3166-1 list. Thus, a crucial change in circumstances has occurred since this matter first arose in early 1997. Then, although .ps was included as an "exceptional reservation" for possible future inclusion on the ISO 3166-1 code list, it was not actually included on that list. The IANA's policy is to delegate ccTLDs only from the ISO 3166-1 list, so that in 1997 .ps did not meet that requirement for delegation. The ISO 3166-1 list now includes .ps, and accordingly that code now qualifies for delegation as a ccTLD.
(A few of the currently delegated
ccTLDs do not appear on the ISO 3166-1 list. The United Kingdom was assigned
the ccTLD .uk
in the mid-1980s even though ISO 3166-1
calls for use of .gb. This assignment occurred before the IANA began using
any standard list of country-code abbreviations. During a brief period
in 1996, the IANA followed the policy of delegating ccTLDs not only from
the ISO 3166-1 list but also from codes the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency
had reserved specifically for purposes of the Universal Postal Union.
That policy proved unsatisfactory and was quickly abandoned in favor of
strict adherence to the ISO 3166-1 list. Finally, a few ccTLDs that were
established from the ISO 3166-1 list were later deleted from that list.
An example is the ccTLD for Zaire, .zr.)
A fundamental principle reflected in ICP-1 is that ccTLDs are intended to be operated for the benefit of the Internet community in the nation or other territory with which the country-code is associated. As Dr Postel wrote in RFC 1591 (and as reiterated in ICP-1):
Thus, in ccTLD-delegation matters, the IANA seeks input from persons concerned or affected by the transfer, particularly those within the nation or territory which the ccTLD has been established to benefit.
ICP-1 gives the following guidance concerning requirements for delegation of a ccTLD:
Here, Drs Qadah and Doleh possess the skills and authority to operate the .ps TLD appropriately. Both are accomplished computer scientists. They have operated the palestine.int domain competently. Dr Qadah is Supervisor-General of the Government Computer Center and has obtained the authority to commit that organization's resources to providing reliable nameservice for the ccTLD. The Palestinian Authority has given its support to his operation of the ccTLD. Dr Qadah and the Government Computer Center have contributed significantly to development of the Internet in Palestine, and their assuming stewardship over the domain should further promote availability and use of the Internet in Palestine. This has earned them support from the Internet community in Palestine, as well as the strong support of the Palestinian Authority.
The IANA is satisfied that Drs Qadah and Doleh recognize the solemn nature of the trust they seek to assume and that they intend to operate the .ps ccTLD in the interest of both the Internet community in Palestine and those throughout the world who are or may in the future be affected by the operation of the .ps TLD. In this regard, the IANA notes that Dr Qadah has indicated that the Government Computer Center and the Palestinian Authority will work with ICANN in accordance with global norms and regulations.
The IANA has verified IP connectivity to the proposed nameservers and e-mail connectivity to the contacts. Dr Qadah, the proposed administrative contact, resides in Palestine.
It is the IANA's conclusion that the .ps top-level domain should be delegated as requested, naming the Government Computer Center as the designated organization, Dr Ghassan Qadah as the designated administrative contact, and Dr Yaser Doleh as the designated technical contact.
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