PA Will Stop UN Application if Prisoners Are Released, Officials Say

The Palestinian officials said the fourth prisoner release should not be connected to extending the peace talks.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Mahmoud Abbas. According to logic, they can stop negotiating right now, with the Palestinian president blamed for not wanting an agreement because he did not want to give up the prisoner release.
Mahmoud Abbas. According to logic, they can stop negotiating right now, with the Palestinian president blamed for not wanting an agreement because he did not want to give up the prisoner release.Credit: Reuters
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Palestinian officials said yesterday that if Israel releases the fourth group of prisoners scheduled as part of negotiations over a framework peace agreement, the Palestinian Authority will not follow-up on its application to join United Nations institutions.

The officials said releasing the prisoners should not be connected to extending the talks. “As far as we’re concerned, there were understandings to release 104 prisoners in exchange for not applying to UN institutions during the nine months of the negotiations,” a Palestinian source close to the negotiations told Haaretz. “The moment the fourth batch of prisoners wasn’t released, we saw fit to apply to the international organizations, and all Israel’s claims that the Palestinians bolted the talks are false.”

The application to the UN “is the first step, but if there’s progress regarding the prisoners’ release and later on understandings about the continued negotiations, the Palestinians won’t follow up the application to the UN institutions and won’t apply to the International Court of Justice,” he said.

The source also said the application to UN institutions is not effective unless the International Court of Justice is included.

Aids to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday expressed satisfaction with the wide backing they received from the Palestine Liberation Organization and other Palestinian factions, including Hamas.

Next week, a delegation appointed by Abbas is to visit the Gaza Strip in a bid to advance reconciliation talks with Hamas. Abbas will also try to gain Arab support for reconciliation at a special gathering of foreign ministers of Arab League member states in Cairo.

Palestinian officials said they intend to continue the talks with Israel until April 29. Until then, both sides will try to cobble together agreements on extending the talks, they said.

The Palestinian negotiators strongly denied reports that they had agreed to a partial suspension of settlement construction in the West Bank. They also said they object to Israel deciding which additional prisoners will be freed.

“The Palestinian leadership will not agree to this formula,” a senior PLO official told Haaretz, adding that the continued talks must be based on clear principles, such as the recognition of the 1967 borders as a basis for continuing the peace process and the suspension of settlement construction. “Beyond that, there’s no chance of reaching an agreement, even if we continue the process for years to come.”

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