How Abbas' Signature Could Derail Peace Talks
He moved to join 15 international organizations last night
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2014 7:08 AM CDT
President Mahmoud Abbas, right, jointed by Palestinian chief peace negotiator Saeb Erekat, signs an application to the UN agencies in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, April 1, 2014.   (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
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(Newser) – The words appearing in a slew of leads about Israel and Palestine today: surprise and collapse. The former is a reference to a move by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who late yesterday signed a slew of applications to join 15 international treaties and conventions; as the New York Times puts it, "a move to gain the benefits of statehood outside the negotiations process." Reuters reports that among those signed was the Geneva Conventions, which the country may see as a way to have stronger footing with the International Criminal Court and an enhanced ability to levy complaints related to land disputes; but the Times points out that Palestine did not actually attempt to join the ICC.

As for the "collapse," that's where the stumbling peace talks may be headed. The move led John Kerry to ax today's planned visit with Abbas in Ramallah, as part of a trip whose aim was to officially extend the talks into 2015. As part of that possible deal, the US is considering releasing a notorious spy for Israel. But Abbas, who had promised he wouldn't make a bid to join the international bodies until the talks Kerry began last year expired on April 29, said he made his move as a reaction to Israel's failure to release Palestinian prisoners by the end of March. Israel countered that because no substantive talks have taken place since November, it wasn't obligated to do so.