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Ministry of Foreign Affairs Files Applications to Join International Treaties

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RAMALLAH, April, 2, 2014 (WAFA)  Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas, have officially filed letters of accession to 15 multilateral treaties and conventions before the relevant international parties.

 The ministry said in a statement on Wednesday: On Tuesday 1st April, following a unanimous decision by the Palestinian leadership, including the PLO Executive Committee, President Mahmoud Abbas signed letters of accession to 15 multilateral treaties and conventions, an ability which Palestine gained following its upgrade to Observer State status by the UN General Assembly in November 2012.

The statement said the step came as Israeli declined to release the fourth group of pre-Oslo prisoners on four phases, previously agreed on by the Israeli and Palestinian sides in return for the Palestinians to postpone joining international treaties.

In July 2013, the PLO took the difficult decision to postpone accession to multilateral treaties and conventions in exchange for the release of 104 pre-Oslo prisoners in four stages, the statement said.

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 fourth and final release of 30 prisoners was set to take place on March 29th 2014. As Israeli officials indicated that Israel would not go through with the release, the PLO requested that the US administration ensure that Israel fulfill its commitment.

The ministry said the latest step does not mean that negotiations process is over.

The PLO remains committed to this nine-month process, which ends on April 29. 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.

President Abbas signed letters of accession to the following 15 multilateral treaties and conventions:

  1. The Four Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and the First Additional Protocol
  2. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
  3. The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
  4. The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in armed conflict
  5. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
  6. The Hague Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex: Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land
  7. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  8. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
  9. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
  10. The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  11. The United Nations Convention against Corruption
  12. The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
  13. The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid
  14. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  15. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. 

These treaties and conventions will help to protect and promote basic rights of the Palestinian people and will enable the State of Palestine to be a responsible actor on the international stage.

 The ministry further said Palestine is entitled to join a total of 63 treaties, conventions and agencies and will do so in the best interests of its people, as and when it sees fit. This is a right that all UN member and Observer states have.

 This is the fulfillment of Palestines right and has nothing to do with negotiations or the reaching of an agreement. As President Abbas expressed during the announcement, the Palestinian position remains unchanged.

 The PLO seeks to achieve an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital with a just solution to the refugee issue based on UN General Assembly resolution 194. It will use all legal means to achieve this, including negotiations and peaceful popular resistance.

 Furthermore, the ministry said the step does not undermine the U.S. peace efforts. It said: Palestine is not seeking to clash with anyone. The tools it uses are legitimate and non-violent. The PLO bases its action on international law and the fulfillment of the long overdue and inalienable rights of its people.

 The Israeli government needs understand that negotiations are a non-violent tool to achieve peace rather than a smoke screen behind which it can continue its violations of human rights, further its settlement enterprise, and make the two-state solution increasingly impossible.

M.N./T.R.

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