PLO submits applications to join 15 international bodies
Published Wednesday 02/04/2014 (updated) 04/04/2014 10:36
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Letters of accession for 15 international multilateral treaties and conventions were handed to the relevant parties on Wednesday after being signed by President Mahmoud Abbas a day earlier, Palestinian officials said.
"I presented the letters signed by Abbas this morning to UN special envoy Robert Serry, as well as to the representatives of the Netherlands and Switzerland," Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki said.
He said the Palestinians had begun the "technical process" required to obtain membership of some 15 international conventions and covenants, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.
"This action does not detract from the importance of negotiations. We are still committed to these talks," he said.
In July, the PLO agreed to postpone accession to international bodies in exchange for the release of 104 Palestinians prisoners jailed before the Oslo Accords.
"Since Israel failed to release the last group of prisoners, the State of Palestine is no longer obliged to postpone its rights to accede to multilateral treaties and conventions," the PLO said in a statement Wednesday.
"Despite the escalation of oppressive Israeli policies such as the killing of Palestinian civilians, settlement construction, raids on vulnerable communities, arbitrary arrests and detentions, home demolitions and the removal of residency rights, we remained committed to the negotiations process and supported US efforts," it added.
Earlier, Israeli Tourism Minster Uzi Landau warned of punitive action if the PLO pursued efforts to join UN agencies and threatened that Israel could annex territory in the occupied West Bank in response.
Israel could also hurt the Palestinians economically by acting "to block financial aid to them," the minister added.
Abbas signed letters of accession for the following treaties and conventions:
1. The Four Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and the First Additional Protocol
2. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
3. The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
4. The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in armed conflict
5. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
6. The Hague Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex: Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land
7. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
8. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
9. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
10. The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
11. The United Nations Convention against Corruption
12. The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
13. The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid
14. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
15. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Hope for continued peace efforts
Meanwhile, a senior official said Wednesday that the PLO wants US efforts to salvage the peace process to continue.
"We hope (US Secretary of State John) Kerry's efforts will be renewed in the coming days," Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee, told reporters in Ramallah.
"Kerry knows the reality. We don't want these efforts to finish."
Abbas' announcement that the PLO had taken steps to join UN agencies angered Israel and prompted Kerry to cancel a trip to Ramallah on Wednesday.
The announcement was a blow to Kerry's frenetic efforts to resolve a dispute over Palestinian prisoners and find a way to extend the fragile peace talks beyond a looming April 29 deadline.
Abed Rabbo said the Palestinian move was "a response to Israel's flagrant violation of the agreement" under which it would release prisoners if the Palestinians refrained from seeking further UN recognition.
"The government of Israel did not release the prisoners, without any reason or even any excuse for not doing so," Abed Rabbo said.
The senior Palestinian official suggested that they would not be quitting talks before the deadline.
"The Palestinian leadership respects its commitments and wants the political process to continue, but we want a real political process, without tricks," he said.
"We will continue our efforts with the US administration, and will do everything we can to remove all obstacles."
The negotiations have faltered over several issues, notably Israel's settlement expansion in occupied Palestinian territory, with the PLO demanding a freeze on settlement construction, including in East Jerusalem.
AFP contributed to this report.