Palestinians to Pursue Bid to Join 60 International Bodies

In new departures from crisis-stricken negotiating framework, PLO also now rejects any West Bank land swaps with Israel

By AFP and Elhanan Miller

April 28, 2014 “ICH” – “TOI” – In a further departure from the crisis-stricken Israeli-Palestinian negotiating framework, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s central council on Sunday adopted a plan to pursue attempts to join 60 United Nations bodies and international agreements.

The council, under the auspices of President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, “affirms the need for the Palestinian leadership to continue membership of UN agencies and international conventions, under the Palestinian plan that was adopted,” the Palestine People’s Party secretary general Bassam al-Salhi said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the central council decided to establish “the legal center for the state of Palestine,” tasked with advising the

central council and the PLO’s executive committee, according to the official WAFA news agency.

Reasserting Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, the central council broke from previous Palestinian negotiating positions, demanding “a complete end to the occupation of the Palestinian state, the illegitimacy of settlements in all their forms, and a refusal of land swaps.”

Speaking to Israeli journalists last week, Abbas had said Palestinians would agree to “limited land swaps,” the extent of which he did not specify.

The council also decided to turn to the UN Security Council or convene an international peace conference “leading to the implementation of UN resolutions.”

Last month Abbas applied for membership in 15 international bodies and treaties, which Israel said breached a commitment agreed to before peace talks. The move came after Israel nixed a planned prisoner release.

Joining international bodies is seen as a significant unilateral diplomatic step towards Palestinian statehood, and a departure from the US-brokered Israeli-Palestinian negotiating framework. That negotiated process has collapsed in recent days, since Abbas’s Fatah on Wednesday signed a unity pact with rival Hamas, and Israel suspended all talks a day later, saying it would not negotiate with a Palestinian leadership supported by the Islamist terror group.

A nine-month negotiating period brokered by the US is due to end on Tuesday, and US President Barack Obama said at the weekend that a “pause” in US efforts might now be necessitated.

Elhanan Miller is the Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

© 2014 The Times of Israel

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