Abbas signs international conventions, jeopardizing peace moves

RAMALLAH, West Bank Tue Apr 1, 2014 3:37pm EDT

1 of 5. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat (L) helps Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as he signs international conventions during a meeting with Palestinian leadership in the West Bank City of Ramallah April 1, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Mohamad Torokman

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RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - 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 jeopardized 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 finalizing 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.

Abbas had pledged not seek to join world bodies during the U.S.-brokered negotiations, that are scheduled to run until the end of April and that have made little apparent headway.

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 against popular Islamist groups opposed to reconciling with Israel.

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

(Reporting by Ali Sawafta, Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

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Comments (7)
dahodi wrote:
Did not I tell you that Israel will never give back and inch of the Palestine, but will use their Jewish power to take back all the remaining Palestine and expel the remaining natives and implant their blood from the globe on the looted land. Obama and Kerry should read the past history before wasting their energy on resolving the middle-east problem. Down the line, there will be only one solution to this matter, and that is a one state solution with equal rights to all.

Apr 01, 2014 3:45pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
geot2 wrote:
Long past time to jump US for UN.

Abbas can do nothing toward negotiating with Israel for his people know it’s a doomed prospect from the beginning (about thirty years ago in the modern series, subsuming all of Arafat). The US can do nothing. Bibi is only slightly different; he will do nothing. Illegal construction is guaranteed for the indefinite future.

Reminds me of a coincidence, during the run up to the Iraq war. On a single day, a pair of vehicles in Iraq, and a pair in Israel, were taken. In Iraq it was suspected bioweapons vans. In Israel it was buses use as illegal settlements.

They were all empty.

Apr 01, 2014 4:02pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
meleze wrote:
Three years later and 150000 people killed in Syria, Abbas must delay as long as he can because every day may the war burst between Israel and Syria.

Apr 01, 2014 4:19pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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