Palestinians ready to widen global recognition bid

PA President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the UN General Assembly, September 26, 2013

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — The Palestinians are ready to sign up a “state of Palestine” for additional international agencies and treaties — a step Israel views as highly provocative — if US peace efforts collapse after an April 29 deadline for a deal, a senior official said Monday.

The warning by Mohammed Ishtayeh, an aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, came as US mediators tried to defuse the worst crisis in the negotiations since Secretary of State John Kerry persuaded the two sides last summer to resume talks for nine months.

Under the terms of renewed talks, Israel promised to release 104 long-held Palestinian prisoners in four groups, while the Palestinians said they would suspend a campaign to sign up Palestine, recognized by the UN General Assembly as a non-member observer state in 2012, for as many as 63 UN agencies, treaties and conventions.

After Israel last week failed to release the fourth group of prisoners on time, Abbas signed letters of accession for 15 international conventions. Israel then said the final prisoner release was off the table.