Abbas signs UN conventions after Israel prisoners retreat-UPDATED

Abbas made clear he was not abandoning the negotiations, but blasted Israel's delay in freeing prisoners.

Abbas signs UN conventions after Israel prisoners retreat-UPDATED

World Bulletin/News Desk

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed more than a dozen international conventions on Tuesday citing anger at Israel's delay of a prisoner release, in a move jeopardised U.S. efforts to salvage fragile peace talks.

His unexpected decision came just a day before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had been due to travel to Ramallah for talks aimed at finalising a complex, three-way deal that would enable the talks to continue into 2015.

However, a U.S. official said that trip would not now go ahead.

Israel had promised in exchange to free more than 100 prisoners by the end of March, but failed to release the final batch, saying it wanted guarantees that the Palestinians would extend the negotiations beyond the April 29 deadline.

In his remarks to Palestinian leaders in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Abbas made clear he was not abandoning the negotiations, but blasted Israel's delay in freeing prisoners.

"We are not doing this against America, but we still don't see other ways forward," Abbas said, before signing a packet of papers Palestinian officials said included 15 conventions of international and U.N. groups.

Precise details of what he had signed were not given.

"We don't see any reason not to go and sign these agreements, with the knowledge that we are on the path to reaching an agreement through talks and through peaceful popular resistance," Abbas said.

A Palestinian official insisted that Abbas was not abandoning negotiations with Israel.

"He have told the Israelis to stop playing their games," the official said, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity. He added that Abbas had been "very disappointed" that all the prisoners had not been released.

The issue of Palestinians jailed by Israel is an emotive one in Palestinian society, and freedom for the inmates helps boost Palestinian support for Abbas's peace seeking efforts.

For Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the prisoner release is a difficult step politically, with far-right coalition partners angry at setting free inmates.

Gaza gov't hails Abbas move

The Gaza government has welcomed a decision by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to sign applications to join United Nations (U.N.) organizations and treaties.

"This decision should have been taken a long time ago," government spokesman Ihab al-Ghosein said, according to the official Al-Ray news agency.

He, however, said that "the Palestinian people were awaiting a decision by Abbas to suspend negotiations for Israel forever".

In November of 2012, Palestine was granted non-member observer status at the United Nations.

U.S.-sponsored peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel resumed last summer after a nearly three-year hiatus.

During a January visit to the region, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presented both sides with a proposed framework for an eventual deal that addresses the fundamental issues of the borders, security, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the status of Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem).

Last Mod: 02 Nisan 2014, 09:37
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