UN Chief: Palestinians to Join International Conventions by May 2

Ban begins processing request to join UN auspice, procedure to end exactly one month after submitting official request.

AP

United Nations Secretary of General Ban Ki-moon signed late Wednesday the official documents indicating that he had received and begun processing the Palestinians' request to join the 10 international conventions under the auspices of the UN.

In the documents, which were distributed to all of the countries that are signatory to the particular conventions in question, the UN chief wrote that the State of Palestine would be added to the conventions on May 2 – 30 days after the official request was submitted by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Western diplomats said that a similar announcement would be released in the near future by the Swiss government, sponsor of the Fourth Geneva convention, which the Palestinians have also requested to join. It is still not clear whether the government of Holland, which sponsors The Hague convention, will follow suit in publishing a statement.

Officials in Israel's Foreign Ministry said that according to conversations held in recent days with counterparts at the UN headquarters in New York and in the Swiss and Dutch foreign ministries, the processing of the Palestinian request would be carried out according to procedure and without politically motivated delays.

Meanwhile, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators were meeting Thursday afternoon with U.S. envoy Martin Indyk for the third time in the last five days. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Netanyahu's envoy Isaac Molho were representing Israel at the triumvirate, while the Palestinian delegation consisted of chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and the of general intelligence, Majad Faraj.

The UN's announcement follows Israel's decision a day earlier to impose sanctions against the Palestinian Authority in response to Abbas' request over the weekend to join the international conventions, a move that the Palestinians called a response to Israel's own failure to release prisoners in accordance within the prescribed timetable.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered all government ministries on Wednesday morning to halt cooperation with Palestinian entities, with a particular emphasis on meetings between Israeli ministers and their Palestinian counterparts.

A senior Israeli official said that the ministers were updated by telephone over the course of the morning by Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mendelblit, who ordered communication stymied with Palestinian officials including ministers and director generals in response to the Palestinian unilateral actions. Only low-level field cooperation will be permitted, according to the Israeli official.