[QODLink]
Middle East

Palestinian president threatens to go to UN

Mahmoud Abbas signs request to join several UN agencies in move that could derail US bid to salvage peace talks.

Last updated: 02 Apr 2014 09:14
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has signed a request to join several UN agencies in a move that could derail a US push to revive faltering peace talks with Israel.

"The Palestinian leadership has unanimously approved a decision to seek membership of 15 UN agencies and international treaties, beginning with the Fourth Geneva Convention," Abbas said on television on Tuesday after signing the demand during a meeting at his Ramallah headquarters in the occupied West Bank.

"The demands [for membership] will be sent immediately" to the relevant agencies, he said.

"This is not a move against America, or any other party - it is our right, and we agreed to suspend it for nine months," said Abbas.

US Secretary of State John Kerry immediately announced that he was cancelling a trip to the region on Wednesday that Washington had hoped would result in a three-way deal aimed at extending the negotiations into 2015.

"It is completely premature tonight to draw any kind of judgment, certainly any final judgment, about today's events and where things are," Kerry told reporters in Brussels, where he was attending a ministerial meeting of NATO.

Al Jazeera's Stefanie Dekker, reporting from Jerusalem, said: "Going to the UN means the potential of going for an independent state and of turning to the International Criminal Court.

"It ups the pressure on the US and on Israel, something they [Palestinians] have always threatened. During the nine months of talks Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said they would not do this. But they were promised nine times the release of this last batch of prisoners," our correspondent said.

Under the US-brokered deal that relaunched the peace talks in July, Israel said it would release 104 Palestinians held since before the 1993 Oslo peace accords in exchange for Palestine not pressing for statehood recognition at the United Nations.

"Abbas feels he has no other choice. He is in a difficult position among the Palestinians: The settlements have doubled; home demolitions of Palestinians have doubled - and it is difficult for him to justify the talks without seeing results," Dekker added.

Release of prisoners 

However, Israel has refused to release the final batch of 26 prisoners, using it as a bargaining chip to try and extend talks beyond their April 29 deadline.

The Palestinians have also repeatedly threatened to resume their action through international courts and the UN over Israel's settlement expansion on occupied territory in the West Bank and in annexed Arab East Jerusalem.

Israel on Tuesday reissued tenders for hundreds of settler homes in the East Jerusalem settlement neighbourhood of Gilo, on top of the thousands of new homes it has announced since July.

Prior to Abbas' announcement, Kerry had been due back in the region for a meeting with the Palestinian president on Wednesday, after a whirlwind visit on Monday and Tuesday.

475

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Assam officials upset that WWII-era Stillwell Road won't be used in transnational highway linking four Asian nations.
Informal health centres are treating thousands of Syrian refugees in Turkey, easing the pressure on local hospitals.
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Wastewater ponds dot the landscape in US states that produce gas; environmentalists say they’re a growing threat.
China President Xi Jinping's Mongolia visit brings accords in the areas of culture, energy, mining and infrastructure.
join our mailing list