President Mahmoud Abbas says the Palestinians are "immediately" resuming their bid to win further U.N. recognition and has signed applications for 15 U.N. agencies and conventions.
"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 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.
Abbas\’ surprise move late Tuesday could derail U.S.-negotiated peace talks with Israel. There was no immediate Israeli comment.
Secretary of State John Kerry has cancelled a planned trip to meet with Palestinians after Palestinian President Abbas said Palestinians are immediately resuming their bid to win further United Nations recognition and that he has signed a request to join 15 U.N. agencies and conventions.
Speaking in Brussels Secretary of State John Kerry said Abbas has agreed to keep his promise to negotiate with Israel until the end of April.
Earlier, officials close to the discussions said an agreement had been emerging that would extend negotiations through 2015 in exchange for the release of a convicted American spying for Israel.
The deal would also include the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and a partial freeze on construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hammered out details of the plan Tuesday, during their second set of talks in as many days.
Under the proposed deal, Jonathan Pollard, a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy, would be released before the Jewish holiday of Passover, which begins in mid-April.
A Jewish American who was granted Israeli citizenship while he was in prison in 1995, Pollard gave thousands of classified documents to his Israeli handlers. He was arrested in 1985 after unsuccessfully seeking refuge at the Israeli embassy in Washington.
Pollard pleaded guilty to leaking classified documents to Israel and received a life sentence. U.S. President Barack Obama and his predecessors have previously refused to release him, despite pleas from Israeli leaders.
The White House said Tuesday that Obama has not yet decided to set Pollard free.
In exchange for his release, Israel would free a fourth group of long-serving Palestinian prisoners, including 14 Arab Israelis whose release is deeply controversial in Israel, as well as 400 other Palestinians who have not been convicted of killing Israelis.
Israel would also agree to "adopt a policy of restraint" in building West Bank settlements. Sources say the limited freeze would not include East Jerusalem, private construction or the building of public institutions.
Palestinian leaders were cool to the emerging proposal, saying it fell far short of their demands for a complete halt to settlement construction and freedom for 1,000 prisoners of their choosing.
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.
Source – Agencies