Thailand's recognition of Palestine 'disappointing'

The move will do nothing to promote the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process, Foreign Ministry spokesperson says.

January 21, 2012 21:16
2 minute read.
Palestinian flags in Ramallah [file]

Palestinian flags in Ramallah 311 (R). (photo credit: Fadi Arouri / Reuters)

Israel expressed disappointment Saturday night that Thailand two days earlier joined a long list of countries recognizing a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines.

Ilana Stein, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said the move would do nothing to promote the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process. Stein said Israel’s embassy in Bangkok was informed by the Thai government of the move before the announcement was made by Bangkok’s mission at the UN.

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The PA’s official news agency, WAFA, reported Thursday that Bangkok’s UN mission said Thailand “officially recognized the state of Palestine and has initiated the process to establish and formalize diplomatic relations” with it at the earliest opportunity.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas subsequently thanked Thailand.

The move came less than a week after Thai authorities arrested a Lebanese man suspected of Hezbollah ties on charges of planning a terrorist attack in the city. As a result of the terror threat, Israel issued a travel advisory warning against travel to Bangkok. Thailand is a popular destination for Israeli tourists.

According to AFP, the spokesman at Thailand’s Foreign Ministry, Thani Thongphakdi, said the recognition of a Palestinian state was not related to the arrest.

The Bangkok Post reported Saturday that the country’s Muslim community and academics welcomed the decision to recognize a Palestinian state and said it would make Thailand “a friend” in the eyes of the Muslim world. PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki called the recognition “an achievement for Palestinian diplomacy” and noted it was the first such recognition of 2012, according to WAFA. He said officials in Ramallah would be in contact with Thai diplomats to determine the nature of the new relations.

Over 100 countries have so far endorsed the Palestinians’ 1988 unilateral declaration of independent statehood.

Thailand’s move comes amid some concern in Jerusalem that at the end of the month, if there was no progress in the current round of Israeli-Palestinian talks taking place in Amman, the Palestinians would once again forge ahead with trying to gain statehood recognition at the UN and elsewhere.

Palestinian efforts to gain UN recognition, which culminated in Abbas formally seeking admission to the UN in September, were stymied by the promise of a US veto at the UN Security Council, as well as the failure of the Palestinians to gain the support of nine of the 15 countries on the Security Council for that move.

In October, UNESCO, the UN’s educational and cultural body, became the first UN agency to recognize Palestine as an independent state.

That decision, however, resulted in the US promptly canceling its annual $60 million contribution to the agency.

Since then the Palestinians have not sought admission into any other UN body.

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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