Palestinian president threatens to go to UN
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has signed a request to join several UN agencies in a move that could derail a US push to revive faltering peace talks with Israel.
“The Palestinian leadership has unanimously approved a decision to seek membership of 15 UN agencies and international treaties, beginning with the Fourth Geneva Convention,” Abbas said on television after signing the demand during a meeting at his Ramallah headquarters in the occupied West Bank.
“The demands [for membership] will be sent immediately” to the relevant agencies, he said.
“This is not a move against America, or any other party - it is our right, and we agreed to suspend it for nine months,” said Abbas.
US Secretary of State John Kerry immediately announced that he was cancelling a trip to the region on Wednesday that Washington had hoped would result in a three-way deal aimed at extending the negotiations into 2015.
“It is completely premature tonight to draw any kind of judgment, certainly any final judgment, about today’s events and where things are,” Kerry told reporters in Brussels, where he was attending a ministerial meeting of NATO.
Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker, reporting from Jerusalem, said: “Going to the UN means the potential of going for an independent state and of turning to the International Criminal Court.
“It ups the pressure on the US and on Israel, something they [Palestinians] have always threatened. During the nine months of talks Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said they would not do this. But they were promised nine times the release of this last batch of prisoners,” our correspondent said.
Under the US-brokered deal that relaunched the peace talks in July, Israel said it would release 104 Palestinians held since before the 1993 Oslo peace accords in exchange for Palestine not pressing for statehood recognition at the United Nations.
“Abbas feels he has no other choice. He is in a difficult position among the Palestinians: The settlements have doubled; home demolitions of Palestinians have doubled - and it is difficult for him to justify the talks without seeing results,” Dekker added. Malaysia has warned that the reasons for the Malaysia Airlines plane’s disappearance may never be known, as Prime Minister Najib Razak heads to Australia for talks on the search.
Malaysia’s police chief said that their investigation could “go on and on”. Ten planes and nine ships will search the southern Indian Ocean. A UK submarine has also joined the hunt.
Flight MH370 disappeared on 8 March as it was travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It was carrying 239 people.
Mr Najib arrived in Perth, western Australia, yesterday evening. He will visit the new Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC), where the southern Indian Ocean search is being led.
He will meet Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and retired air chief marshal Angus Houston, who is leading the JACC.
Meanwhile, Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said the criminal investigation could “go on and on and on. We have to clear every little thing.”
“At the end of the investigations, we may not even know the real cause. We may not even know the reason for this incident,” he said.
He added that police had “cleared” all the passengers of the four key areas being investigated: hijacking, sabotage, and psychological and personal problems, Malaysia’s Bernama news agency reported.