BEIRUT

Middle East

Palestinians to decide soon which U.N. bodies to join

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN Headquarters, in New York, November 29, 2012. REUTERS/Chip East

BEIT JALA: The Palestinians will shortly decide which international organisations to join in the wake of their new-found UN status, including courts likely to act against Israel, negotiator Mohammed Shtayeh says.

"We have put together a legal team to study to which organisation we shall apply first and what are the procedures of accession and what are the benefits and the consequences of accession into any of these," he said, giving as examples the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

"In two weeks time we will be in a position to decide where and when we shall apply to this or that organisation," he said.

On November 29, the Palestinians won recognition as a non-member state at the United Nations, a historic move which could potentially allow them to take grievances against Israeli occupation to the International Criminal Court or the International Court of Justice.

"We are considering all organisations, including the ICC and ICJ," Shtayeh said. "We are not ruling it out at all, but the legal team is studying where do we go and when."

"But if Israel continues to commit settler violence, financial violence, against our people... then I think Israel is actually pushing us to go into that direction even faster than we want," he added.

"I think we should first sign the Fourth Geneva Convention, because of its applicability to the Palestinian territories."

The convention, which deals with the protection of civilians in wartime, states that "the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."

Some 340,000 Israelis live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and 200,000 in settlement neighbourhoods in occupied and annexed east Jerusalem.

Israel, which ratified the convention in 1951, has always rejected its application to the Palestinian Territories, arguing that they were not sovereign before occupation by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day war.

 

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