The Palestinian Authority has formally submitted its application to join 15 international agencies, as part of a unilateral diplomatic "offensive" that is threatening to derail peace talks with Israel.
PA-based Maan News Agency published a full list of the 15 agencies. The list includes several United Nations bodies - contrary to US Secretary of State John Kerry's claim last night that the PA had not technically broken its commitments since none of the agencies were UN bodies.
The 15 agencies are:
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
The letters of accession to the aforementioned international treaties were signed by PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and delivered to Robert Serry, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Paul Garnier, the permanent representative of Switzerland to the United Nations, and to the deputy head of the permanent mission of Holland to the United Nations.
Talks had already been on the rocks due to the PA's refusal to recognize the State of Israel as the Jewish state, and after Israel postponed indefinitely the final batch of 104 terrorists set to be released as a "goodwill gesture" unless the PA agreed to extend talks past their April 29 deadline.
In a last-ditch attempt to salvage the talks Kerry had tried to broker a deal which would see Israel free a further 400 terrorists, in addition to the final installment of 26 from the previous release, and a construction freeze in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. In return, the US would agree to release imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.
But Kerry was blindsided last night by Abbas's decision to take unilateral diplomatic action through the UN, prompting the Secretary of State to cancel a trip to Ramallah scheduled for today in an attempt to convince the PA leader to continue negotiations with Israel.
Abbas also threatened that if Israel did not release the fourth batch of 26 convicted terrorists set to be released as part of ongoing talks, the PA would "immediately" seek membership in another 63 international agencies.
Despite the crisis, Kerry insisted that it was too early to tell if the peace talks were over, stating "it is completely premature tonight to draw...any final judgement about today's events and where things are." Kerry added "President Abbas has given me his word that he will continue to negotiate until the end of April."
He had also tried to alleviate tension by claiming that none of the 15 agencies approached by the PA were linked to the UN - claimed laid bare by the above list.
Abbas obligated himself to refrain from such unilateral moves for international recognition during the course of the peace talks, which restarted last July. But despite breaching the conditions, a senior PA official urged the US to continue the peace talks.
"We hope Kerry's efforts will be renewed in the coming days," Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) secretary general Yasser Abed Rabbo told AFP.
Rabbo claimed that "Kerry knows the reality. We don't want these efforts to finish." The official stated that the PA would remain in the peace talks, which are set to last until April 29.
"The Palestinian leadership respects its commitments and wants the political process to continue, but we want a real political process, without tricks," claimed Rabbo. "We will continue our efforts with the US administration, and will do everything we can to remove all obstacles."