RAMALLAH, Palestine: The Palestinians want U.S. efforts to salvage the peace process to continue, a senior official said Wednesday, just hours after they renewed controversial moves to seek international recognition.
“We hope [U.S. Secretary of State John] Kerry’s efforts will be renewed in the coming days,” Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, told reporters in Ramallah.
“Kerry knows the reality. We don’t want these efforts to finish.”
Late on Tuesday, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said he had begun steps to join 15 U.N. agencies, angering Israel and prompting Kerry to cancel a trip to Ramallah on Wednesday.
The announcement was a blow to Kerry’s frenetic efforts to resolve a dispute over Palestinian prisoners and find a way to extend the fragile peace talks beyond a looming April 29 deadline.
Abed Rabbo said the Palestinian move was “a response to Israel’s flagrant violation of the agreement” under which it would release prisoners if the Palestinians refrained from seeking further UN recognition.
But Israel says its release of each batch of prisoners was conditional on progress in negotiations, which is not currently evident.
“The government of Israel did not release the prisoners, without any reason or even any excuse for not doing so,” Abed Rabbo said.
The senior Palestinian official suggested that they would not be quitting talks before the deadline.
“The Palestinian leadership respects its commitments and wants the political process to continue, but we want a real political process, without tricks,” he said.
“We will continue our efforts with the U.S. administration, and will do everything we can to remove all obstacles.”