Icelandic FM with Palestinian FM Riyad al-Malki 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ingolfur Juliusson)
Iceland on Thursday became the first west European country
to formally recognize a Palestinian state, three months after the
Palestinians began to seek full membership of the United Nations with
peace talks with Israel seemingly frozen indefinitely.
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"[This] will surely
have positive influence on other states to follow the same steps,"
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki told a news conference in
didn't only talk the talk, we walked the walk," Icelandic Foreign
Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson said. "We stood by our word, we have
supported the Palestinian cause and today will not be the end of that,
we will continue to do so."
Iceland's recognition is expected to amount to little more
than a symbolic step as the Palestinian Authority strives to get United
Nations membership. Its quest for a seat at the international body has
so far failed.
East European countries that were once part of the old Soviet bloc,
as well as Cyprus - all of them now European Union members - previously
Over 100 countries thus far have endorsed the Palestinians’ 1988 unilateral
declaration of independent statehood.
Jerusalem and Washington have opposed any recognition of a Palestinian state not based on
the outcome of negotiations. The US's major west European allies
echo this position. Iceland is outside the EU.
In late September,
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asked the United Nations to
recognize a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza with east
Jerusalem as its capital. The UN at present classifies Palestine only as
an observer "entity."
Iceland led the way in recognizing the independence of the three Baltic states after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
Peace talks have been suspended for more than a year. Abbas
refuses to negotiate unless Israel freezes settlement building, while
Israel demands direct negotiations take place without preconditions.
Jerusalem has said unilateral moves will only harm
the peace process.
Malki said he wanted negotiations to restart.
have committed ourselves to the process of negotiations and we continue
to commit ourselves to the process of negotiations with the Israelis,"
he said. But the peace process was "going nowhere at the moment."
we are only seeing setbacks. The current Israeli government is not
interested in peace and the international community is not doing what is
needed," Malki said.
Jpost.com Staff contributed to this report