Palestinians plan to join 60 U.N. bodies, treaties

The PLO’s bid to gain wider international recognition comes after Israel repeatedly rejected the new Palestinian unity government

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The central council of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Sunday adopted a plan to pursue attempts to join 60 United Nations bodies and international treaties, according to a statement from the governing body of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Agence France-Presse reported.

The council, under the auspices of president Mahmoud Abbas, “affirms the need for the Palestinian leadership to continue membership of U.N. agencies and international conventions, under the Palestinian plan that was adopted,” the Palestine People’s Party secretary general Bassam al-Salhi said in a statement.

Washington’s efforts to advance Mideast peace talks appeared to vanish into thin air at the end of March when the Israelis rejected to release the fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners, which infuriated Palestinians who responded by signing 15 international treaties in a step denounced by Israel.

The PLO’s statement comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there will be no negotiations with a Palestinian unity government unless the Hamas movement gives up its vision of destroying Israel and embraces peace, AFP reported.

Speaking on CNN, the Israeli leader said the preferable course of action to get peace negotiations back on track would be for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to renounce Hamas, the Islamist movement whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel.

“Either Hamas disavows the destruction of Israel and embraces peace and denounces terror, or president Abbas renounces Hamas,” Netanyahu told CNN’s State of the Union.

“If one of those things happened, we could get back to the peace negotiations. I hope he renounces Hamas and gets back to the peace table, as I’ve just said. The ball is in his court.”

Netanyahu suspended faltering peace talks with the Palestinians last week after PLO and Hamas agreed to work together to form a unity government, in a move to end years of bitter political rivalry.

In a speech to PLO leaders on Saturday, Abbas said the new unity government, which is to be formed of political independents, would recognize Israel, reject violence and abide by existing agreements -- the demands laid out by the Middle East peacemaking Quartet.

But a senior cabinet minister on Sunday ruled out any talks with the new government -- even if it accepted the Quartet conditions.

“We will not negotiate with a government backed by Hamas, even if it’s a... technocrat government,” Economy Minister Naftali Bennett told reporters at the Foreign Press Association in Jerusalem.

“We won’t talk to such a government even if it accepts the Quartet terms because it’s backed by Hamas,” he said.

“If Hamas (itself) accepted the Quartet terms, that would be a different story,” he said.

Bennett, an outspoken hawk who heads the far-right Jewish Home party and has consistently opposed the peace talks, said Israel should move to annex swathes of the occupied West Bank given the apparent failure of the peace talks.

“What several ministers in the government... are talking about is gradually applying Israeli law on parts or all of Area C,” he said, referring to a sector which covers more than 60 percent of the West Bank where the vast majority of Jewish settlers live.

Seized by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967, the West Bank is now home to hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers, as well as about 1.7 million Palestinians.

Israel annexed east Jerusalem in 1967 in a move never recognized by the international community.

(With AFP)

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