RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas pushed ahead Tuesday with efforts for wider recognition of Palestine as a state, saying he would pursue membership status in scores of international agencies, treaties and conventions.
The Palestinian move came after Israel did not release a group of Palestinian prisoners as previously promised in a U.S.-brokered deal that included a temporary suspension of Palestinian efforts to join U.N. agencies or treaties.
The U.N. General Assembly recognized Palestine as a non-member state entity in 2012.
Israel has released 78 prisoners in three groups, and was to release the final 26 prisoners Saturday.
"Unfortunately, and after we have been promised nine times by the Israeli government to tell us its decision ... this did not happen," Abbas said at a meeting of Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.
"We have said that if the prisoners are not released, then we will join 63 international organizations, treaties and conventions," he added.
Members of the Palestinian leadership, who voted unanimously in support of Abbas' move, applauded when he announced the decision to sign papers that would make Palestine an immediate member in 15 U.N. organizations.
Which organizations or treaties Abbas moved to join was not immediately known, but the International Criminal Court was not among them.
Abbas cautioned that he was not taking this step to enter into a confrontation with Israel or the U.S.
"We are not doing this against anyone and we do not want to clash with the U.S. administration," he said. "We want to maintain strong and good relationship with the U.S., which has exerted tremendous efforts through Secretary [John F.] Kerry, whom I met for 39 times, to find a solution" to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Kerry left Israel on Tuesday after two days of talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to persuade him to release the prisoners as agreed.
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