Pushing for global recognition, Abbas’s PA to join UN body, 10 int’l conventions
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Pushing for global recognition, Abbas’s PA to join UN body, 10 int’l conventions

Ramallah says signed forms will be submitted to UN’s Universal Postal Union next week; move could spark US to pull funding

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gives a speech after laying a wreath at the tomb of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank city of Ramallah on November 11, 2018. (Abbas Momani/AFP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gives a speech after laying a wreath at the tomb of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank city of Ramallah on November 11, 2018. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has stepped up his push for international recognition for the Palestinians, signing forms on Thursday to join the Universal Postal Union, a United Nations agency that coordinates international postage, and 10 international protocols and conventions, the official PA news site Wafa reported.

Abbas signed the documents at a Palestine Liberation Organization meeting at the PA presidency’s headquarters in Ramallah.

Omar Awadallah, a PA foreign ministry official, said in a phone call the signed documents will be formally submitted to the relevant UN agency and protocols and conventions next week.

“The President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas signed…11 forms to join international organizations and conventions,” the Wafa report said.

The US government has long asked the Palestinians not to join UN agencies because American law requires it to cut off funding to any UN organization that grants the Palestinians full membership.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 73rd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York September 27, 2018. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP)

The form Abbas signed to join the Universal Postal Union was to gain full membership in the organization, according to Awadallah.

“No funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or any other Act shall be available for the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as member states,” one US law passed in 1990 reads.

The US government must cease its funding to any UN agency that grants full membership to any group that does not have “internationally recognized attributes of statehood,” another law passed in 1994 says.

The US does not recognize “the State of Palestine.”

Even if the Universal Postal Union accepts the Palestinians as full members, the US may anyway stop funding the organizations before they do. US President Donald Trump’s administration announced in October its intent to withdraw from the Universal Postal Union.

Former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad participated in the unveiling of the first postage stamp bearing the name of the State of Palestine on January 28, 2013. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Trump has argued that the 144-year-old organization benefits China and other countries at the expense of US businesses, making it cheaper to ship packages from Beijing to New York than from San Francisco to the US East coast, which particularly benefits Chinese manufacturers.

A US Consulate spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In addition to the Universal Postal Union, Abbas signed forms to join the Convention on the Nationality of Married Woman; Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child; Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; Basel Protocol on Liability and Compensation for Damage Resulting from Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal; the Vienna Convention of Road Traffic; Protocol concerning countries or territories at present occupied; the Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages; Agreement Establishing the Common Fund for Commodities; and the International Convention on the Arrest of Ships.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon declined to comment.

However, Israel holds that Palestinian efforts to gain membership in international organizations constitute one-sided measures aimed at achieving statehood while bypassing peace negotiations and undermining the Jewish state’s standing in the international community.

In recent speeches, Abbas has referred to an agreement with the US, which he said entails the Palestinians committing to not joining UN agencies, on the condition that the American administration does not relocate its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, does not change the status of the PLO representative office in Washington, DC, and continues its aid payments for the benefit of Palestinians.

In the past year, Trump’s administration has moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, closed the PLO representative office in the American capital and ended almost all of its aid payments for Palestinians.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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