RAMALLAH, West Bank —
"This step will affirm the status of Palestine in the international community legally and politically," he said. "It is a good step on our way to get the recognition from the entire world of our status as a state, equal to other states, but under occupation."
In November 2012, the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly recognized a state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem — lands Israel captured in 1967 — as a non-member observer state. The vote came despite objections from the U.S. and Israel, which portrayed it as an attempt to bypass negotiations.
Palestinian officials have said that recognition paved the way for the Palestinians joining 63 U.N. agencies, conventions and institutions, including the International Criminal Court.
The Palestinian foreign minister, Riad Malki, handed the letters of accession signed by Abbas to the relevant parties Wednesday, including a U.N. envoy, his office said.
Among other things, Abbas requested accession to the Geneva Conventions, which establish standards of conduct and treatment of civilians at times of conflict, and to various human rights treaties.
The International Criminal Court was not on the list. ICC recognition could theoretically open the way to war crimes charges against Israel over its settlement construction on war-won land.
Abbas' step came as Kerry's mediation efforts appeared in trouble. Kerry had set an April 29 deadline for the basic outlines of an Israeli-Palestinian deal, but in recent weeks has pushed to extend the talks until the end of the year.
The Palestinians said they would not discuss an extension until the last group of prisoners was released. Israel, in turn, was trying to make that group part of a new deal on extending the talks.
Earlier this week, Kerry apparently raised the possibility of releasing U.S. spy Jonathan Pollard into the mix in hopes of breaking the logjam.