Palestinians to Seek Membership of International Bodies


The Palestine Liberation Organisation’s central council on Sunday adopted a plan to pursue attempts to join 60 United Nations bodies and international agreements.

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

The council also said Israel was to blame for failed international and U.S. efforts to find a negotiated settlement to the Middle East conflict.

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

The struggling peace talks took a nose dive at the end of March when Israel reneged on a pledge to release two dozen Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinians responded by signing 15 international treaties in a step denounced by Israel.

Last November the Palestinians cast a U.N. General Assembly vote for the first time and claimed the moment as a new step in their quest for full recognition by the global body.

Most of the 193 members of the General Assembly applauded Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour as he voted for a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

The Palestinians became observer state members of the United Nations a year earlier with an overwhelming vote in favour.

The Palestinian mission cannot vote on U.N. resolutions but, under U.N. rules, it and other observers such as the Vatican can vote in elections for judges on international courts.

Israel maintains its position that the Palestinian Authority is not a state and the Palestinian Authority fails to meet the criteria for statehood.

Israel and the United States have lobbied strongly against U.N. recognition of the Palestinians, arguing that a separate state can only be achieved through direct bilateral negotiations to end the decades old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But the Palestinians have also joined UNESCO, the U.N. cultural agency, and voted there.

Israel and the United States withdrew funding from UNESCO because it allowed Palestinian membership and subsequently lost their voting rights on the body.

Early this month Abbas signed membership applications for 15 U.N. agencies and international treaties, beginning with the Fourth Geneva Convention, which defines humanitarian protections for civilians in a war zone.

“This is not a move against America, or any other party — it is our right, and we agreed to suspend it for nine months,” he said at the time.


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