U.N. accepts Palestinian treaty applications

Ban Ki-moon says he has verified and accepted 13 Palestinian applications to join international conventions

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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has verified that the Palestinian applications to join 13 international conventions were “in due and proper form” and has accepted them, the Associated Press reported.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Thursday that Ban informed all 193 U.N. member states of his acceptance.

After Israel failed to carry out a planned prisoner release a few days after the end of the March deadline, the Palestinians retaliated by signing letters of accession to 15 international conventions. Thirteen were deposited at the U.N., one in Geneva, and one in the Netherlands.

The Palestinians are seeking wider international recognition. Meanwhile, Israel on Thursday placed further sanctions against the Palestinians.

This will further complicate U.S. efforts to keep peace talks from collapsing before the April 29 deadline.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the Jewish state would deduct debt payments from tax transfers which the Palestinian Authority routinely receives, and limit access the government’s bank deposits in Israel.

On Wednesday, Israel said it was limiting its contacts with Palestinian officials, citing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s signing of U.N. human rights conventions last week.

In return, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat lashed out Thursday at the Israeli move to freeze the transfer of taxes collected on behalf of the Palestinians, saying the move amounted to “theft.”

Erakat called the sanctions an act of “Israeli hijacking and the theft of the Palestinian people’s money,” telling Agence France-Presse that the decision was a “violation of international law and norms by Israel” in revenge for the Palestinians’ move to join a raft of international treaties as a state.

While the Mideast peace negotiations reportedly near collapse, sources told Al Arabiya News Channel that the Palestinians and Israelis have reached a deal to extend peace talks beyond the April 30 deadline.

The deal will apparently see an unspecified number of Palestinian prisoners released from Israel jails and a freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank.

In exchange, the Palestinians will suspend their plans to join 15 international bodies and treaties and the United States will release jailed Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, according to sources.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, said Tuesday that Palestine will officially become a state party to 13 of the 15 conventions on May 2 - and is ready with more applications to join U.N. agencies, conventions and treaties depending on Israel’s actions.

(With Associated Press, Reuters and AFP)

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