Palestinians can join Geneva treaties, Swiss say

The Palestinians applied to join after Israel failed to carry out a planned prisoner release

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The Palestinians can join the Geneva Conventions, the international rules of war that also cover occupations, the Associated Press reported the Swiss government as saying on Friday.

Switzerland’s Foreign Ministry, as the depositary of the Geneva Conventions, said Friday that “the state of Palestine” acceded to the conventions, effective April 2.

The Palestinians signed letters of accession to several international conventions after Israel failed to carry out a planned prisoner release by the March deadline.

The Swiss statement comes after the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accepted Palestinian applications to join 13 other conventions on Thursday.

This will further complicate U.S. efforts to keep the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks from collapsing before the April 29 deadline, especially after Israel on Thursday placed further sanctions against the Palestinians for trying to gain international recognition.

Israel argues that the Geneva Conventions rule against the colonization of occupied land shouldn’t apply to the West Bank and Gaza because it is not universally accepted as a state in its own right.

Israeli infighting

Meanwhile, a key partner in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition threatened on Friday to pull out of the government if a deal to salvage peace talks with the Palestinians includes the release of Israeli-Arab prisoners, Reuters reported.

The Palestinian government strived to gain wider recognition after Israel rejected to release the fourth batch of prisoners, a key demand for the continual of peace talks.

The ultimatum was made by Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party.

Bennett’s party has 12 of the 68 seats in ruling coalition, and should it quit, Netanyahu would have to find new allies to maintain a working majority in the 120-seat parliament.

There was no immediate comment from Netanyahu’s office, but senior members of his right-wing Likud party dismissed Bennett’s announcement as an “empty threat,” according to the Associated Press.

(With the Associated Press and Reuters)

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