J'lem protests Honduran support for PA statehood bid

Foreign Ministry’s deputy director-general for Latin America express Israel’s “surprise," “disappointment” at support by Honduras.

August 4, 2011 02:00
2 minute read.
Victory signs flashed in front of Palestinian flag

palestinian flag_311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Ali Jarekji)

In a step aimed in part at showing the international community that Israel was taking every country’s vote at the UN in September seriously, Jerusalem summoned Honduras’s ambassador this week to protest a statement by the country’s president saying Honduras would support the Palestinian statehood recognition bid.

After a recent meeting with Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki, Honduran President Porfirio Lobo placed a statement on his presidential website saying that Honduras would support the Palestinian move at the UN.

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As a result, the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director-general for Latin America, Dorit Shavit, called Honduran envoy Jose Isaias Barahoan Herrera into the Foreign Ministry to express Israel’s “surprise” and “disappointment” and to ask for clarification.

Shavit said that in recent months Lobo, during talks with Minister Yossi Peled – and the Honduran foreign minister, during a meeting with deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon – had revealed “understanding” for Israel’s position that the Palestinian unilateral move would constitute a setback for the diplomatic process. She said the Honduran leaders expressed support for a settlement reached through direct negotiations.

Shavit reminded the ambassador that Israel stood by Honduras two years ago when it went through a constitutional crisis that led to widespread worldwide condemnation, and stressed the close cooperation the two countries have enjoyed for years.

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One diplomatic official pointed out that unlike every South American County except for Colombia, Honduras – like most other Central American countries – had not recognized a Palestinian state, and Lobo’s announcement was only that it would support the PA at the UN.

The Honduran embassy in Tel Aviv did not reply on Wednesday to a request for a response.

There was no indication yet that Lobo’s statement would lead to a domino effect in Central America, with El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama following suit, but this was definitely a concern in Jerusalem.

One diplomatic official said Lobo’s statement was “no way to treat a friend.” Another diplomatic official said that by making the meeting public, the Foreign Ministry wanted other countries to see it was taking the matter very seriously.

In the last major vote in the UN that gave a good indication of where countries lined up regarding Israel – the November 2009 General Assembly vote that adopted the Goldstone Commission report on Operation Cast Lead – Honduras was among 16 countries absent from the vote. In that vote, 114 countries voted against Israel, 18 with it, and 44 abstained.

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