Palestinian leadership renews calls Tuesday to lobby UN if prisoners not released by deadline
Agence France Presse reported Tuesday that the Palestinian Authority will lobby the UN if Israel does not release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners as agreed under the current conditions of the ongoing peace negotiations.
"We shall turn to the UN's international organizations if Israel does not release the fourth and final group of prisoners. The release of the prisoners is in return for the freeze on seeking membership in international organizations," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee.
"If Israel were to refuse to free the fourth batch it would have serious consequences, including initiatives at the United Nations," former Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayeh, said in a statement also released Tuesday.
As part of its peace deal efforts, Palestinian leadership agreed to halt its efforts to seek membership in UN and related international bodies in exchange for Israel's commitment to release Palestinian prisoners jailed before the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords.
So far, Israel has released 78 of the 104 prisoners, with the fourth and final group supposed to be released at the end of March. However, Israel has expressed hesitation in holding up its side of the agreement, with Jewish leadership calling for Abbas and the Palestinians to agree for an extension of the peace talks beyond the April 29 deadline before the last group of prisoners will be freed.
A senior Palestinian official told AFP that Abbas warned in talks with US special envoy Martin Indyk that if the April 29 talks deadline was not met, "Israel would be in violation of agreements and (the Palestinians) would have the right to turn to the UN and to take any measures it deems necessary."