Abbas: Signs application to join international organizations unilaterally
Kerry cancels visit Ramallah for talks to finalize complex, three-way deal to enable the talks to continue into 2015.
The Palestinian Authority decided Tuesday to launch plans to join 15 international organizations and treaties in protest against Israel's failure to release the fourth and final batch of Palestinian prisoners.
The unexpected decision came just a day before US Secretary of State John Kerry had been due to travel to Ramallah for talks aimed at finalizing a complex, three-way deal that would enable the talks to continue into 2015.
However, a US official said that trip would now be canceled.A senior PA official said that despite the decision the Palestinians would not walk out of the peace talks with Israel. "We are committed to pursuing the negotiations until the end of April," the official toldThe Jerusalem Post.
"We have no intention of obstructing American efforts to reach an agreement." The official said he did not know whether Abbas would meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Ramallah on Wednesday. The decision was announced following a meeting of PLO and Fatah officials in Ramallah to discuss the current crisis in the peace talks with Israel.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who signed the applications for joining the 15 international organizations and treaties, said he did not seek a "clash" with the US Administration. The signing ceremony was broadcast live on Palestine TV. "We want a good relation with the US Administration because it is helping us and making big efforts," he said.
Abbas pointed out that the fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners was supposed to be freed on March 29. "Since then, we have been promised that the prisoners, who are dear to our hearts and because of whom we refrained over the past nine months from going to the United Nations organizations, would be released," he said. "Unfortunately, each time we are told that the Israeli government would meet to approve their release, but nothing has happened."
Abbas said that the PA leadership had made it clear that unless the prisoners are released, "we will start going to and joining 63 international organizations and treaties." Abbas added that the 15 applications which he signed Tuesday night would be sent immediately to the international organizations and conventions. The PLO and Fatah leaders voted unanimously in favor of the move.
Abbas said that Kerry had made "superb efforts" to boost the peace process. "We met with him 39 times since the beginning of the negotiations [with Israel]," he added. "We are not acting against anyone. We are only trying to find another way. This is our right and we agreed to delay it for nine months. We never agreed to cancel this right [to join international organizations]." Abbas said that in light of Israeli "procrastination," the Palestinians had no other choice but to go ahead with plans to join international organizations and conventions. PA officials said that the documents signed by Abbas included a request to join the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilians in Time.
Reuters contributed to this report
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