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Middle East

Palestinians renew UN push after Israel delays prisoner release


Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-04-03

Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour said official requests were submitted Wednesday to join 15 UN conventions and treaties after Israel failed to release a fourth batch of prisoners as agreed by a Tuesday deadline.

Under a deal that relaunched peace talks last July, Israel agreed to release 104 prisoners held since before the 1993 Oslo peace accords in exchange for a Palestinian agreement not to push for a recognition of statehood at the United Nations.

Mansour said that the Palestinians may seek to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) and more UN agencies if there is no progress in peace talks with the Israelis.

“The Israelis breached that agreement when they did not release a fourth batch of prisoners by noon yesterday,” Mansour told FRANCE 24. “That is why we are doing what we are doing today.”

“If Israel wishes to provoke us further, then we will continue to seek the membership of other international treaties and agencies, such as the ICC,” Mansour told FRANCE 24.

“We will be fully exercising our right to protect the Palestinian people against Israeli aggression” he said, adding that as a UN observer state, the Palestinians’ requests were legal.

The treaties include the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and conventions against torture, corruption and the prevention of genocide.

The Palestinian Authority has observer status at the UN but has not been granted full membership.

The UN's special envoy on Mideast peace, Robert H. Serry, confirmed that he had received the requests, the UN confirmed Wednesday.

“We will be reviewing them to consider the appropriate next steps," said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Mansour said the requests were “a formality” and that their membership in the treaties would come into effect “30 days after the Secretary-General receives the letter of accession”.

Stalling peace talks

The requests came as peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis were close to collapsing, with Israel making a new bid to expand settlements in annexed Arab east Jerusalem and the Palestinians taking fresh steps towards seeking recognition of their promised state.

The UN's cultural agency, Paris-based UNESCO, recognised Palestine as a full member in 2011, leading to a cancellation of Israeli and US funding for the organisation. A US law bans financial support for any agency that grants the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as full member states.

The Palestinians had previously held off joining the ICC and other UN agencies, which could face similar funding crises, during negotiations with Israel in return for the release of 104 prisoners.

"We hope a way can be found to see the negotiations through," UN spokesman Haq said, noting that Serry had met with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and Israeli Justice Minister and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni.

Envoys from the Mideast diplomatic "quartet" – the US, EU, UN and Russia – also spoke by telephone, he said.

Mansour said the Palestinians remain willing and ready to engage in political talks leading to a two-state solution and independence.

“We are not looking for a confrontation or fight with anyone. We are exercising our rights, and we will not be apologetic about exercising our rights,” he said.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP)


Date created : 2014-04-03


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