'Int’l recognition of Palestine strengthens us in talks'

PA foreign minister: "It is very important when we start to say...more countries recognize the state of Palestine than recognize the State of Israel."

Riad Malki (photo credit: AP)
Riad Malki
(photo credit: AP)
The Palestinian Authority believes that international recognition of an independent state is a way to pressure Israel, PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki was quoted on Thursday as saying.
“From our point of view, the more recognitions there are of a Palestinian state, the stronger our position is when it comes to negotiations with Israel or when it comes to our need to go to the United Nations to gain recognition of the Palestinian state,” Malki said in an interview with the Bitterlemons website.
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“It is very important when we start to say, for example, that more countries recognize the state of Palestine than recognize the State of Israel.”
Malki said that while the recognition “doesn’t make any difference on the ground, everything is very symbolic these days.”
Asked why the PA had been concentrating on Latin America, where a number of countries have announced their recognition of a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders, Malki said: “We focused on Latin America for several reasons.
First of all, Latin America is the continent that did not recognize the state of Palestine earlier. Most of Africa, except three or four countries, most of Asia except four or five countries, and all of the Arab countries did recognize the state of Palestine. So we had a weakness in South America, Central America and the Caribbean.”
He noted that the first recognitions of the state of Palestine came back in 1988.
Some countries within Western Europe as well as Japan, Australia, South Korea, New Zealand and others had established relations with the PA, but they did not recognize the state of Palestine, he said.
“We thought that because we have reached a deadlock in the political negotiations with Israel, there was a need for us to approach most of the countries that did not yet recognize the state of Palestine and see if they are willing to do so,” Malki said.
“The hope is that such recognition might create an atmosphere that will convince Israel that it is in its interests to come forward and to re-engage with us in negotiations, so that we can solve all our impending issues and to reach an end to the occupation and establish an independent Palestinian state through negotiations.”