Defying the United States and Israel, the Palestinian leadership formally submitted applications on Wednesday to join 15 international agencies, leaving the troubled Middle East talks brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry on the verge of breakdown.
Who could have expected the downtrodden Palestinians to be so disobedient and engage in such a troubling act of defiance?
Reuters offers a less biased account:
A surprise decision by President Mahmoud Abbas to sign more than a dozen international conventions giving Palestinians greater leverage against Israel left the United States struggling on Wednesday to put peace talks back on track.
The documents Abbas signed, officials said, included the Geneva Conventions – the key text of international law on the conduct of war and occupation.
Palestinians hope it will give them a stronger basis to appeal to the International Criminal Court and eventually lodge formal complaints against Israel for its continued occupation of lands seized in the 1967 war that they want for their state.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who had been piecing together a complex three-way deal to push the faltering negotiations into 2015, cancelled a visit to the de facto Palestinian capital, Ramallah, planned for Wednesday after Abbas’s dramatic move late on Tuesday.
“We urge both sides to show restraint while we work with them,” Kerry told reporters in Brussels, where he was attending a ministerial meeting of NATO.
Palestinian officials signaled the new crisis could be short-lived if Israel made good on its pledge to release more than two dozen long-serving Palestinian prisoners. Israel has said it first wants the Palestinians to agree to extend the talks beyond an April 29 deadline.