March 19, 2014 - 16:30 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Palestinians on Wednesday, March 19, threatened to resume their campaign for international recognition at the United Nations if Israel calls off a planned release of Palestinian prisoners, deepening a crisis that has threatened to derail U.S.-led Mideast peace efforts, the Associated Press reports.
Israel pledged to release 104 long-serving Palestinian prisoners in four stages at the outset of the current round of talks last July. The fourth and final release was set to take place by March 29.
But in recent days, Israel has signaled it may not carry out the final release. Israel's chief negotiator, Tzipi Livni, told a conference Tuesday that Israel never committed to the releases and that much would depend on progress in the final month of talks. After months of deadlock, Israel is seeking an extension of negotiations beyond the current late-April deadline.
Palestinian official Nabil Shaath said Wednesday that the Palestinians would "immediately" resume their UN campaign if Israel reneges on the release. The Palestinians froze these efforts as part of the U.S.-brokered package that relaunched the negotiations last year.
"We committed to not applying to the UN agencies and Israel committed to release 104 ... prisoners in four batches," he said. "That was the deal. If Israel breaches it, we will too."
In 2012, the UN General Assembly granted the Palestinians upgraded "nonmember state" status, clearing the way for them to join various international agencies to pursue an anti-Israel agenda. In particular, Israel fears the Palestinians will try to pursue war crimes charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court.