Photo Credit: Gili Yaari / Flash 90

Opposition by Germany and Britain to the Palestinian Authority bid to join the International Olive Council has forced the Palestinian Authority to freeze their application in applying to become a member state of the intergovernmental Madrid-based organization.

The Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry in Ramallah prepared the application this past summer in order to be voted upon at the annual olive council meeting held in Madrid last week.

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According to European diplomatic sources, cited in Haaretz, British and German representatives claimed that letting the Palestinians join the council could sabotage current Israeli-Palestinian talks led by the United States.

Resuming peace talks were made on the condition that Israel’s release of Palestinian prisoners would be done in exchange for the Palestinian Authority’s promise not to join various UN organizations and not to address The Hague’s International Criminal Court (ICC).

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has committed to continue talks for a nine-month period, during which time the Palestinian Authority has pledged to avoid any diplomatic actions against Israel. Thus far, Israel has released 52 Palestinian prisoners, many of whom were convicted of murdering Israelis, out of the 104 Palestinian prisoners who will be freed as talks progress.

Germany and Britain are the member states of the European Union’s joint delegation to the International Olive Council, which is made up of 16 states in addition to the EU that produce olives and olive oil. If the states within the EU delegation are unable to reach a consensus, then the EU delegation must abstain from voting.

In any case, the Palestinians realized that the European Union would not vote in their favor for the olive council membership and preferred not to suffer diplomatic failure. Palestinian officials told Haaretz that the PA had instead decided to postpone their application to a more “opportune moment.” The next International Olive Council annual session will be held in November 2014.

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