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Today’s Top Stories
1. Palestinian unilateralism ruled the day as Mahmoud Abbas signed papers putting in motion PA requests to join 15 world treaties. AP writes:
A Palestine Liberation Organization statement quoted Abbas as saying Tuesday that the 15 letters he signed were for conventions and treaties that can be joined immediately.
But the Times of Israel reports differently:
Contrary to an assertion by US Secretary of State John Kerry, the 15 international treaties and conventions to which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas applied for membership on Tuesday do include groups affiliated to the United Nations.
Shortly before this roundup went to press, Khaled Abu Toameh published a list of what Abbas applied to join, while Raphael Ahren explains what the memberships mean for Israel. Joining official UN bodies — say, the International Maritime Organization — is more politically charged. The US would cut off funding to any UN agency accepting Palestine as a member. As we learned with UNESCO, things get messy.
See page 2 of this round up for a collection of must-read commentary/analysis.
2. Does Jonathan Pollard support being released? According to AP, he waived a previously scheduled parole hearing yesterday in protest. But the Jerusalem Post reports that Pollard would not object, and that his parole no-show wasn’t related to the politics:
Sources knowledgeable about the legal initiatives to secure Pollard’s release said his lawyers had merely asked to postpone the hearing due to pending litigation. Pollard’s attorneys have been fighting for access to classified information in his sentencing file that the US government intends to use against him in the hearing.
3. Numbers are called “numbers” because they sometimes make you numb. McClatchy News picked up on the latest report on the Syrian civil war’s death toll from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. (The UN stopped counting in January.)
The main take-away is that civilians make up one-third of the casualties. Here’s a by-the-numbers look.
150,344 (at least): total people killed after four years of fighting.
51,212: civilians killed since March, 2011.
57,511: members of Syrian Army or National Defense Forces killed.
364: Hezbollah members killed.
605: members of Iranian or Iraqi militias killed.
37,781: total rebels killed.
26,561: rebels of Syrian nationality killed
11,220: foreigners killed fighting with rebels, including members of jihadist groups.
4. Christian Science Monitor: Murder As an Afterthought: Why is a convicted murderer described as a “political prisoner”?
5. Jerusalem Neighborhood a Victim of Lazy Journalism: When Gilo’s in the news, historical and geographic context are consistently absent.
6. Unintended Consequences of Israel Boycotts: The backlash triggered by the ASA academic boycott of Israel may have long-term legislative effects it never imagined or desired.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Reuters points out the significance of signing up for the Geneva Convention:
Precise details of what he had signed were not given, but a senior Palestinian official, Mohammed Shtayyeh, told Reuters that one of the documents was the Geneva Convention, which lays down the standards of international law for war and occupation.
Signing the convention would give Palestinians a stronger basis to accede to the International Criminal Court and eventually lodge formal complaints against Israel for its continued occupation of lands seized in the 1967 war.
• How are US officials reacting to this? Well, anonymous Washington insiders donned their rose-colored glasses for the NY Times:
American officials, while rattled, said the Palestinians appeared to be using leverage against Israel rather than trying to scuttle the negotiations. Mr. Abbas, they noted, did not move toward joining the International Criminal Court, a step Israel fears most because the Palestinians could use the court to contest Israel’s presence in the West Bank.
• The PA and Hamas already know how to point fingers at each other. Welcome to the UN, Palestine.
- Israel concerned about getting kicked out of FIFA.
- Terror suit against Jordanian bank tests US diplomacy and secrecy laws.
- Must-see commentary on the precarious peace talks.