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Ambassador: Palestine eligible for 550 intl orgs

April 2, 2014 11:10 P.M. (Updated: April 4, 2014 4:57 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestine could join up to 550 international treaties and conventions including the International Criminal Court, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN said Wednesday.

Ibrahim Khraishi told Ma'an that the 15 applications submitted on Wednesday would take three to four months for approval.

“These conventions don't have US funding like other organizations such as the World Health Organization which receives $720 million annually, So, its members will not be financially blackmailed,” Khraishi said.

He added that the US did not make any negative statements on the applications so far. Khraishi highlighted that he would meet the US ambassador in Switzerland on Thursday to discuss the issue.

There are a few organizations that require General Assembly approval in addition to an internal majority of votes, he noted.

Letters of accession for 15 international multilateral treaties and conventions were handed to the relevant parties on Wednesday after being signed by President Mahmoud Abbas a day earlier, Palestinian officials said.

"I presented the letters signed by Abbas this morning to UN special envoy Robert Serry, as well as to the representatives of the Netherlands and Switzerland," Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki said.

He said the Palestinians had begun the "technical process" required to obtain membership of some 15 international conventions and covenants, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.

"This action does not detract from the importance of negotiations. We are still committed to these talks," he said.

In July, the PLO agreed to postpone accession to international bodies in exchange for the release of 104 Palestinians prisoners jailed before the Oslo Accords.

"Since Israel failed to release the last group of prisoners, the State of Palestine is no longer obliged to postpone its rights to accede to multilateral treaties and conventions," the PLO said in a statement Wednesday.

"Despite the escalation of oppressive Israeli policies such as the killing of Palestinian civilians, settlement construction, raids on vulnerable communities, arbitrary arrests and detentions, home demolitions and the removal of residency rights, we remained committed to the negotiations process and supported US efforts," it added.

Earlier, Israeli Tourism Minster Uzi Landau warned of punitive action if the PLO pursued efforts to join UN agencies and threatened that Israel could annex territory in the occupied West Bank in response.

Israel could also hurt the Palestinians economically by acting "to block financial aid to them," the minister added.

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