More S. American countries may recognize 'Palestine'

Israeli officials concerned Mexico, Ecuador and El Salvador poised to follow Brazilian lead and acknowledge full sovereignty of PA for first time.

December 10, 2010 01:55
2 minute read.
Mahmoud Abbas

Abbas smiling. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

With Uruguay poised to soon join Brazil and Argentina in formally recognizing a Palestinian state, Jerusalem is worried several other Latin American countries may follow suit.

Israel is not, however, overly concerned that Western democracies actually involved in the diplomatic process in the region will take similar measures.

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Among the countries Israel feels may now follow the Brazilian and Argentinean leads are Mexico, Ecuador and El Salvador.

Foreign Ministry officials noted that these Latin American countries were not among the more than 100 countries that already recognized a Palestinian state, most of them after Yasser Arafat declared a state in 1988.

Most of those that have already recognized the state are Muslim countries, African nations or Eastern European countries whose recognition of “Palestine” came while they were still under Soviet domination.

The two major exceptions are India and China, which both recognized the state after Arafat’s declared statehood in 1988.

Israeli officials characterized the South American moves as “purely symbolic,” with little significance other than giving the Palestinian Authority public relations points. The officials said there was little concern that the EU would follow suit, and noted that both the US and France have in recent days made statements saying that a solution to the conflict needed to come through negotiation.

Nevertheless, there is concern in Jerusalem that the EU will issue a harsh statement at its monthly meeting of foreign ministers next week, and make reference to the need to create a state inside the pre-1967 lines, while stopping well short of recognizing such a state at this time.

Israel has protested to Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay about their moves, but is not considering any other diplomatic actions in response.

“Annoying Israel comes at no expense,” one government official said. “Annoying the Muslims is more problematic; they might burn embassies, threaten cartoonists or cut off oil. But what can Israel do? So these countries do the easy thing, not the right or moral one.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yossi Levy, meanwhile, said it needed to be clear that “there is no alternative to direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and no rhetorical hocus pocus will establish the Palestinian state. It has to be established through a courageous and historic decision by the Palestinians to end the conflict, recognize the right of the Jews to a state, and commit themselves to live in the future alongside that Jewish state.”

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