Chilean President Sebastian Pinera 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki praised Chile for its decision to recognize a Palestinian state, Army Radio reported on Saturday.
Maliki added that he believed other states would also recognize a Palestinian state despite Israel and US efforts to prevent such recognition.
After a day of conflicting reports, Chile joined a growing number of
Latin American nations on Friday night officially recognizing
"Chile has recognized the Palestinian
state as a free, independent and sovereign state," Chilean President
Sebastián Piñera announced. "In this way we contribute to that end may
exist in the Middle East, a Palestinian state and a state of Israel that
can live in peace and prosperity and recognized frontiers with secure
The Foreign Ministry expressed regret over the Chilean government's decision to recognize the existence of a Palestinian state.
The statement from Jerusalem said such acts of recognition do not promote negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
MK Nahman Shai (Kadima) criticized the government and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman specifically, for its treatment of the growing phenomenon of countries recognizing a Palestinian state.
Following Chile's announcement, Shai said "Chile's decision accelerates Israel's diplomatic downfall. Chile is the fifth nation to take this decision, despite the prime minister's last minute appeal to Chile's president. Israel's foreign policy is paralyzed, but the foreign minister is busy with forming investigative parliamentary committees and internal politics."
While the Chilean proclamation was nuanced, stressing Israel's right to security, it is considered a stinging defeat for Jerusalem which argues the creation of a Palestinian state should only be part of a comprehensive peace agreement.
Over the past few weeks pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian lobby groups have been battling to influence Santiago's decision regarding Palestinian statehood. Leaders of Chile's Palestinian community, which numbers 400,000 people and is the largest on the continent, declared their support for the Palestinian cause while leaders of Chile's 10,000-strong Jewish community lobbied on behalf of Israel.
Despite the outcome, Gabriel Zaliasnik, president of Chile's Jewish community, said he was "satisfied" with the wording of the proclamation because it did not refer to borders.
"Israelis and Palestinians will eventually define all the core issues like borders," he said. 'For the Jewish people, Jerusalem and borders of the state of Israel can not be provided to third parties."
Unlike the five previous Latin American countries which have recognized a Palestinian state in the past three months, including Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia and Ecuador, Chile has a right-leaning government whose politics are not necessarily critical of the US, and by extension, of Israel. Some believe Chile's decision may pave the way for other right-leaning governments in the area like Colombia, Mexico and Peru to recognize a Palestinian state.