Middle East

Abbas rejected Kerry plea to halt treaty applications: aide

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a meeting with Palestinian leadership in the West Bank City of Ramallah April 1, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

RAMALLAH: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected appeals from US Secretary of State John Kerry to halt applications to join international treaties to salvage peace talks with Israel, a Palestinian official said Friday.

Tuesday's applications to adhere to 15 treaties in pursuit of international recognition for the Palestinians' promised state infuriated Israel and brought US-sponsored peace talks to the brink of collapse.

In a late Thursday telephone conversation with Kerry, "Abbas stated he will not go back on the decision to sign up to international agreements," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Kerry warned Abbas that "Israel was threatening a strong response to Palestinian actions," the official said.

But Abbas retorted: "Israel's threats scare no one. They can do what they like," the official added.

Israel's chief negotiator Justice Minister Tzipi Livni told her counterpart on Thursday that a planned release of veteran Arab prisoners, which had been scheduled for last weekend, would now be called off.

It was Israel's failure to deliver on the release -- the last of four planned when peace talks resumed last July -- that prompted Tuesday's treaty move by the Palestinians.

Washington described the escalating tit-for-tat moves as "unhelpful" and appealed to both sides to show the necessary leadership to salvage the talks.

But on Friday Kerry told reporters that there were "limits" to the time Washington could devote to the push for a peace agreement and that he would evaluate what to do next with President Barack Obama.





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