Palestinians ask to join 15 world bodies, treaties

Palestinians ask to join 15 world bodies, treaties
Thu Apr 3, 2014 08:27:42

Eight-month-old Middle East peace negotiations were on the verge of collapse Wednesday, after the Palestinian Authority submitted requests to join 15 international conventions.

Israel sees the Palestinian move as bid to gain international statehood recognition - without making concessions and while sidelining Israel and direct negotiations.

The Palestinians regard Israel's failure to free a fourth group of prisoners on schedule last Saturday as a breach of a July understanding, under which the occupying regime would free 104 Palestinians in four stages, and the Palestinians would freeze their international recognition campaign.

Israel said it saw no reason to free the last group if Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas refused to extend the negotiations beyond their April 29 deadline.

The White House also said it was "disappointed" by moves made by Israel, referring also to an Israeli approval of more construction projects in settlements.

US Middle East envoy Martin Indyk held an emergency meeting with chief Israeli and Palestinian negotiators Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat in Al-Quds late Wednesday.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, used stronger language. Abbas' decision to submit the accession requests left "very little chance" for a deal and the continuation of the negotiations, he said.

"Abu Mazen decided to blow up the talks. There is no other way to interpret this move," the official told the Walla news site, referring to Abbas by his nickname.

Erekat's spokesman, Xavier Abu Eid, said Israel should stop using peace negotiations as a "smoke screen" behind which it could continue building in settlements and make the two-state solution increasingly impossible.

He said the Palestinians were committed to the negotiations until their April 29 deadline.

The Arab League backed Abbas, with Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi calling his step of signing 15 international agreements "a genuine right" for Palestine as it was granted an Observer non-member seat in the United Nations in a November 2012 General Assembly vote.


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