Palestinian urges boycott of Israeli settlements

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The Palestinian U.N. envoy urged the world Tuesday to boycott products from “illegal” Israeli settlements as part of a stepped up campaign to help Palestine become independent.

Riyad Mansour told a U.N. meeting Tuesday that the Palestinians are ready and willing to resume U.S.-mediated peace talks with Israel, which appeared in recent days to be headed for collapse, before they are scheduled to end on April 29.

But he warned that if the Israelis aren’t prepared to negotiate “in good faith,” the Palestinians will be forced “to move into the next stage of holding them accountable for all of their illegal behavior in all fronts, politically, diplomatically and legally.”

Israel has accused the Palestinians of not being serious about reaching a peace deal and says they are responsible for breaking off negotiations.

Under the terms of the talks, which were renewed in July under heavy U.S. pressure, Israel had promised to release 104 long-held Palestinian prisoners in four groups.

The Palestinians said they would suspend a campaign to join as many as 63 U.N. agencies, treaties and conventions, which they gained the right to do when the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly recognized a non-member observer state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem on Nov. 29, 2012. Israel and the United States were among nine countries that rejected the assembly resolution and do not recognize the Palestinian lands as a state.

After Israel failed to carry out the last planned prisoner release a few days after the end of March deadline, the Palestinians retaliated by signing letters of accession for 15 international conventions. Thirteen were deposited at the U.N., one in Geneva, and one in the Netherlands.

Mansour told the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People that Palestine will officially become a state party to 13 of the 15 conventions on May 2 – and is ready with more applications, depending on Israel’s actions.

“If they want to escalate further and try … illegally punishing us for doing something legal, we are ready and willing to send the second barrage, the third barrage, and more of what legally we could do,” he warned.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman accused the Palestinians Tuesday of breaking the terms of the peace talks, saying they should “pay a price.” He warned that the prisoner release will not happen as long as the Palestinians pursue what he called a “provocative” bid to join U.N. agencies.

Mansour told diplomats from many countries attending a meeting of the U.N. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People that the Palestinians can no longer accept being “strangers or foreigners in our homeland.”

“This is the time for all of you – not only governments but parliamentarians, civil society, academicians, media, etc. – to complete that exercise by helping the state of Palestine to become independent,” he said.

He expressed hope that hundreds of parliamentarians from all over the world will attend a meeting at the United Nations around Nov. 29 “to be partners with us in the struggle to have the end of the Israeli occupation and the independence of the state of Palestine.”

Mansour said most countries represented at the meeting have recognized the state of Palestine, but he stressed “that is not sufficient.”

“You have to get ready to start adopting laws in order not to accept or allow anything that comes from settlements, because what comes from an illegal thing is illegal,” he said.

Mansour urged countries to follow Europe and South Africa, singling out the Netherlands where he said five banks are not doing business with Israeli banks because they deal with settlements.

“We expect all banks in your region … to take such steps,” he said.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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