Palestinians make moves toward statehood
(Reuters) – A surprise decision by President Mahmoud Abbas to sign more than a dozen international conventions that could give Palestinians greater leverage against Israel left the United States struggling on Wednesday to put peace talks back on track.
A senior Palestinian official, voicing frustration deepened by Israel’s failure to carry out a pledged release of several dozen Palestinian prisoners, said the eight-month-old talks had become merely “negotiating about negotiating”.
The Palestinians on Wednesday handed over to a U.N. representative and other diplomats applications Abbas signed late on Tuesday to join 15 international conventions.
They include the Geneva Conventions, the key text of international law on the conduct of war and occupation.
Palestinian officials said Israel’s failure to let the prisoners go meant Abbas no longer had to stick to a commitment not to confront it at the U.N. and other international bodies.
The developments further complicated efforts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to piece together a three-way deal to push the faltering negotiations past an April 29 deadline and into 2015.
The talks were already in trouble over the issues of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – land captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War – and Palestinian opposition to Netanyahu’s demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
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