Following in Brazil’s footsteps from last Friday, Argentina announced on Monday
it recognized a “free and independent” Palestinian state, sparking an immediate
condemnation from Israel.
Argentina’s President Cristina Kirchner told
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a letter that her country
recognized a Palestine defined by 1967 borders, Argentine officials
said.RELATED:Brazil says it recognizes Palestinian
The Argentine Foreign Ministry said in an e-mailed statement that
the move was designed to help “definitively advance the negotiation process that
will lead to the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle
Uruguay announced soon afterward that it would recognize a
Palestinian state next year. “Uruguay will surely follow the same path as
Argentina in 2011,” Deputy Foreign Minister Roberto Conde told
Israel expressed “regret and disappointment” on Monday night at
Argentina’s decision to join Brazil in recognizing an independent Palestinian
“Recognition of a Palestinian state is a violation of the interim
agreement signed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 1995, which
established that the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be
discussed and solved through negotiations,” the Foreign Ministry said in a
statement. The statement said that recognition of a Palestinian state also
contradicted the road map.
“All attempts to bypass negotiations and to
unilaterally determine issues in dispute will only harm the trust of the sides
and their commitment to agreed upon frameworks for negotiations,” the statement
The American Jewish Committee called the recognition of an
independent Palestinian state by Brazil and Argentina both worrisome and
Such actions would only “encourage the PA to
unilaterally declare independence,” which would “undermine the prospect for
durable peace,” according to AJC Executive Director David Harris.
Latin American countries truly want to support Arab- Israeli peace, they should
be pressing President Abbas to return to the direct talks that were revived with
US assistance three months ago, and suspended a few weeks later by Abbas,” he
Over 100 countries have endorsed the Palestinians’ 1988 unilateral
declaration of independent statehood.
Clinton preparing major statement on peace process
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton is preparing a major statement on the process this week, as
talks between the US and Israel over a plan to restart negotiations have
“I will be making a very formal set of remarks,” Clinton told
the American-based Arabic TV station Al Hurra during her trip to Bahrain this
weekend, declining to offer details of her plans.
She is scheduled to
give a keynote address at the Saban Forum of the Brookings Institution Friday
night, where she will be appearing with Defense Minister Ehud
Clinton indicated that the US had “made progress” in continuing
conversations with Israelis and Palestinians, but that the obligation remained
on both sides to make the necessary compromises.
“We have been talking
with both parties very substantively, and I think that the United States can
play a role to help each make decisions about very difficult matters that then
can be presented to the other side,” she said.
One source close to the
issue said the remarks could include an announcement of a US-Israeli deal that
has been in the works for weeks if it were completed on time, but he said there
was a very low probability of it being worked out by the end of the
The deal seeks to find a US-engineered formula for restarting direct
talks. The details disclosed last month include an extension of Israel’s lapsed
settlement freeze – a condition the Palestinians are demanding for talks to
resume – for a period of some three months in exchange for 20 F-35 fighter jets
from the US. The deal has been stuck, however, amid reservations and differences
over details on both sides and criticism from domestic players in each country,
as well as from Palestinians who might still be unwilling to come to the table
under the arrangement.
In place of a US-Israel deal, and particularly if
it falls through entirely, there is also speculation that Clinton could outline
a more assertive US vision for a final-status resolution in hopes of adding
pressure to both sides to tackle the tough issues that divide them.
prospect of US-generated parameters was raised in an International Herald
Tribune oped jointly penned by former US ambassador to Israel Samuel Lewis,
Middle East expert Scott Lasensky and Georgetown University’s Chester Crocker
“Faltering Middle East peace talks need a jolt. And
Washington does have a powerful potential prod: taking a firm stand on how to
end the conflict,” they wrote. “An American declaration of principles –
carefully crafted and properly marketed – could spark a debate and thereby
change the political calculus for leaders.”
But such a move could
blindside Israel and is unlikely at this stage, according to Washington
“It’s far too early to lay out a set of substantive guidelines
on the core issues,” said Aaron David Miller, a Woodrow Wilson Center public
policy scholar who has advised both Republican and Democratic secretaries of
He continued, “They owe the world an answer on process, though.
Specifically, what is being done to restart direct talks, sponsor indirect ones,
and on US-Israeli arrangements for extension of the settlements
Some welcome diplomatic moves came as result of fire, US official says
The talks between the US and Israel have also been set back by
the devastating fires that broke out last week, diverting time and attention
from the peace process.
Daniel Shapiro, National Security Council senior
director for the Middle East, declined to comment on how the fires had affected
the US-Israel talks and Clinton’s upcoming address during a conference call on
the disaster Monday.
But he did say that some welcome diplomatic moves
had come as numerous international actors helped Israel cope with the
“It was certainly a positive gesture by the Jordanian and
Egyptian and PA authorities to contribute as well,” he said in response to a
question from The Jerusalem Post
. “Perhaps the contacts that come out of those
[and] additional positive things can be built upon them.”
call, he also noted US President Barack Obama’s pledge “to do absolutely
whatever was necessary” to help.
That has included 111 metric tons of
fire suppressant and 3,800 gallons of fire retardant chemicals provided by five
US aircraft, plus a dispatch of a 10- man team – up from the threeperson crew
originally announced – of American firefighting experts. The team arrived in
Israel Sunday and immediately proceeded to Haifa to contribute to the effort.
They will be staying in the country for at least the rest of the week and
helping to lay the groundwork for long-term recovery efforts.
addition, eight American firefighting planes were en route to Israel when the
government told Washington it no longer required the assistance since the flames
were under control. An additional 60-person firefighting team about to depart
for Israel from Idaho was also told its services were not needed, but they
remain on standby should the situation change.
“We’ve had people working
around the clock trying to coordinate with the government of Israel to ensure
that we were able to provide the kind of assistance that they most needed,” said
Nancy Lindborg, who works in USAID’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and
Humanitarian Assistance. “The Israeli government did an extraordinary job
coordinating the international response, and their ability to get such a quick
handle on this devastating fire was amazing.”