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Israel PM Netanyahu threatens 'unilateral moves' against Palestinians

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to punish Palestinians for their decision to submit requests to join international treaties. His warning came amid wrangles at fragile US-brokered peace talks.

Israel will retaliate if the Palestinians move forward with applications to adhere to 15 international treaties, Netanyahu said on Sunday.

"These will only make a peace agreement more distant," he told a weekly cabinet meeting. "Any unilateral moves they take will be answered by unilateral moves at our end."

The prime minister did not specify what action he might take against the Palestinians, who last Tuesday submitted the 15 applications. Israel fears the action could give the Palestinians better leverage against them.

Stumbling talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry's Middle East envoy, Martin Indyk, on Sunday made a last-ditch attempt

Israeli and Palestinian chief negotiations Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat were set to meet again late on Sunday with Indyk in Jerusalem. A similar meeting ended after nine hours last week with the two sides trading accusations.

The negotiations were resumed last July, with a deadline of April 29 this year.

The talks were plunged into crisis last week when Israel

refused to release the fourth and final group of Palestinian prisoners

, as part of an agreement with the US and the Palestinians.

In response, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed the applications for membership in United Nations agencies.

Speaking from Morocco on Friday, Kerry said there were "limits" to how much the US could invest in the stumbling peace negotiations.

The White House said last week it was "disappointed" by the actions from both sides, including the Palestinians' treaty applications and Israel's approval of further settlement construction in the West Bank, which is considered illegal by the international community.

dr/ipj (AFP, dpa, Reuters, AP)

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