In an apparent breach of understandings with the US and Israel, and with a proposed agreement to extend peace talks awaiting a Palestinian response, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday evening signed an official appeal to join 15 UN and international bodies.
At a PLO meeting in Ramallah, Abbas formally requested membership in the international organizations for the “State of Palestine.”
“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 after signing the papers.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reporter Derek Stoffel tweeted Tuesday evening that the Palestinian Authority had made the move in response to Israel’s unwillingness to fulfill an obligation to release a fourth round of Palestinian prisoners, some of them Arab Israelis.
Stoffel quoted sources in Abbas’s office as saying the peace process would continue regardless of Tuesday’s move. Officials in Jerusalem were also quoted by Channel 2 news as saying that the move didn’t necessarily signal an end to the talks.
After the announcement was made, a meeting scheduled for Wednesday between Abbas and US Secretary of State John Kerry was canceled, Palestinian sources said.
“We salute the American efforts. But Israel is procrastinating,” Abbas reportedly said before signing a series of documents to apply to the international bodies.
The Palestinian leadership was convened on Tuesday evening to discuss a tripartite deal between the US, Israel and the PA, which would see Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard freed from a US prison, reportedly in exchange for a partial settlement construction freeze and the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.
The identity of the prisoners to be released would be decided partly by Israel and partly by the Palestinian Authority.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with senior Likud party members on Tuesday to elaborate on the details of the plan and enlist their support.
An official close to the negotiations said earlier Tuesday that Kerry was close to a deal that would rescue the faltering Mideast peace talks. The deal would not include a freeze on construction in Jewish settlements in the West Bank as the Palestinians have demanded but would envisage Israel committing to show “great restraint” and not issue new housing tenders.
The Palestinians gave the emerging proposal a cool reception, saying it fell far short of their demands for a complete halt to settlement construction and the freeing of 1,000 prisoners of their choosing.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday evening that the US had yet to decide to free Pollard.
“There are obviously a lot of things happening in that arena and I’m not going to get ahead of where we are,” he said in a press briefing. “The president has not made a decision to release Jonathan Pollard.”
Times of Israel staff, AP and AFP contributed to this report.