Gaza government hails Abbas move to join U.N. agencies

The Gaza government has welcomed a decision by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to sign applications to join United Nations organizations and treaties.

The Gaza government has welcomed a decision by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to sign applications to join United Nations organizations and treaties.

GAZA CITY – The Gaza government has welcomed a decision by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to sign applications to join United Nations (U.N.) organizations and treaties.

"This decision should have been taken a long time ago," government spokesman Ihab al-Ghosein said, according to the official Al-Ray news agency.

He, however, said that "the Palestinian people were awaiting a decision by Abbas to suspend negotiations for Israel forever".

Abbas signed Tuesday applications for joining U.N. organizations and treaties in protest at Israel's failure to release a fourth group of prisoners.

"We have said before that we would join international organizations if Israel reneged on its promises," Abbas said in a televised speech. "Today, we have signed applications for joining 15 international organizations."

Abbas accused Israel of reneging on promises to release a fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners.

"Israel has promised to release the prisoners several times, but it failed to fulfill the promise," he said.

Under a U.S.-sponsored deal, Israel had promised to release 104 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails since before the signing of the 1993 Oslo peace accords.

Israel has already freed 78 prisoners in three phases.

A fourth group of prisoners had been scheduled for release on Saturday, before Israel reneged on the pledge.

Abbas, however, reiterated that he will not walk out of the U.S.-sponsored peace talks with Israel.

"We are keen on reaching a settlement via negotiations…and we will pursue efforts to reach a peaceful solution," he said.

In November of 2012, Palestine was granted non-member observer status at the United Nations.

U.S.-sponsored peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel resumed last summer after a nearly three-year hiatus.

During a January visit to the region, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presented both sides with a proposed framework for an eventual deal that addresses the fundamental issues of the borders, security, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the status of Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem).

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