Peru has joined a growing number of South American countries in recognizing an independent and sovereign Palestinian state.

However, the decision announced by Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde does not recognize Palestine's borders pre-dating the Six-Day War of 1967, when Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza.

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Peru's position is similar to that of Chile. Both governments say the issue must be worked out between Israelis and Palestinians.

Garcia said Monday that Peru also recognizes Israel's indisputable right to exist without any threats to its people.

Its announcement comes ahead of a mid-February summit in Lima of South American and Arab leaders.

Army Radio on Tuesday reported that Israel fears that Spain, Belgium, Ireland and Scandinavian countries are next in line to join the South American countries in recognizing an independent Palestinian state unilaterally.

According to the report, Jerusalem officials estimated that Europe would then be used as a tool by the United States to place pressure on Israel.

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