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Kerry phones Abbas to prevent talks collapse
Published Wednesday 02/04/2014 (updated) 03/04/2014 12:21
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RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- US Secretary of State John Kerry phoned President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday as peace talks appeared to have reached an impasse over Israel's refusal to free prisoners.

The two agreed to continue calls in the coming days, and Abbas emphasized that the Palestinians were committed to international resolutions to arrive at a just peace with Israel.

In the meantime, the Palestinian and Israeli negotiating teams will meet on Wednesday evening with US special envoy Martin Indyk, a high-ranking source told Ma'an.

The Palestinian team consists of chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and head of Palestinian intelligence Majed Farraj, while the Israeli side is represented by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and negotiator Isaac Molho.

On Tuesday, Abbas said he had begun steps to join several UN agencies and ratify international treaties, angering Israel and prompting Kerry to cancel a trip to Ramallah.

The announcement was a blow to Kerry's frenetic efforts to resolve the dispute over Palestinian prisoners and find a way to extend the fragile peace talks beyond a looming April 29 deadline.

Israel says its release of each batch of prisoners was conditional on progress in negotiations.

Abbas has signed letters of accession for 15 international multilateral treaties and conventions which were then handed to the relevant agencies, officials said Tuesday.

"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," 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.
02/04/2014 21:19

2 ) Maureen / Australia
02/04/2014 21:47
Why is Landau/Israel so afraid of Palestinian UN membership? Israel sure is a twisted cruel entity, as can be seen in the last sentence of the above article.

3 ) Arnold / Canada
02/04/2014 22:56
Will Palestine pay into the UN coffers ? Probably not.

4 ) Years Ago, Now, & post-Joining / Three Too Lates
02/04/2014 23:33
To prevent the talks' collapse, and subsequently Palestine's collapse: -1- It was probably too late years ago. -2- It may be already too late now. And, -3- It will definitely be too late after the Palestine joins 15 UN bodies.

5 ) Tobias / USA
02/04/2014 23:49
Netanyahu And Abbas BOTH RENEGED on the agreements, where: * NETANYAHU BUILT, AND * ABBAS GOT 80 REAL PRISONERS RELEASED, BUT * GAVE ESSENTIAL NOTHING IN RETURN (real & promised talks). * AND after joining 15 UN Bodies, whether its Fair or Not, * PALESTINE WILL PAY A VERY HIGH PRICE, and It may soon financially collapse on the ground, after Israel's retaliation, even if, for a short while, it seems more of a real state in the UN.

6 ) Giacomo / USA
03/04/2014 00:03
A few days of patience and 30x the number of promised prisoners would be released, more than the entire original agreement combined, including the requested Israeli Palestinians in this round, and women/young adults currently held. Coupled with additional settlement restraints, how Abbas, could you have not waited 1 day to meet with Kerry to secure this deal? Netanyahu figured out a way to out maneuver his detractors, and you in turn couldn't miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

7 ) Alarmed! / USA
03/04/2014 00:59
They better do something or maybe it is too late according to comments in the following story on A7 (See comment #2) Someone has put in a claim to the Israel Supreme Court on the Holy Mount claiming it his property as !!! See this article there and the listed link: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/179189#.UzyDh5tOXIW

8 ) Outlier / USA
03/04/2014 01:02
Kerry and Obama will remember who caused these talks to fail. Being diplomatic, they may not call them out on their acts of bad faith, but they will remember and act accordingly.

9 ) Mel / USA
03/04/2014 02:51
Amazing! Criminal creeps like Landau threaten to take "punitive action" if Abbas,or any OCCUPIED/BLOCKADED Palestinian,takes any more action to seek INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE & membership of the same treaties,covenants etc that ISRAEL ITSELF treats with contempt since WW2 acting as if it was ABOVE global conventions,common law? Just who the f*** does Zionist-occupied Israel think it IS,besides a state-body of racist terrorism for the last 67yrs at least! STOP THE CHECKS TO ISRAEL Mr.POTUS!BDS!BDS!

10 ) Mel / USA
03/04/2014 20:21
p.s. Palestine,in rejecting an already-long-biased USG-failed "peace"(whole piece for Israel)could be doing D.C.a big favor,by using ICC.USG won't have to PRETEND it's being fair &neutral any more(instead of totally pro-Zionist votes).It'll have to join the rank&file,& PROVE its stance as a REAL nation of RoL,pluralism,democracy,rights! It's long overdue that USG cast off its imperial burden of Jewish-facism/Nazism,for the real "greater good"of all,incld.our waning US prestige,honor,trade:NSE&W
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