Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay Recognize Palestinian State

December 8, 2010 15:51

Last Friday Brazil took the first step and injected itself in the Middle East peace process by announcing that it recognized the state of  Palestine with its borders as they were before the war of 1967.

The Americano

Last Friday Brazil took the first step and injected itself in the Middle East peace process by announcing that it recognized the state of  Palestine with its borders as they were before the war of 1967.

Then on Monday it was Argentina who did the same. Uruguay already has announced it will follow suit.

The decision was a blow to Israel and to American foreign policy both in the Middle East and in Latin America. Brazil has made it clear that it has its own independent foreign policy, and is willing to exercise it by recognizing the state of Palestine or by trying to mediate against U.N. sanctions against Iran.

The announcement by the three South American nations brought an immediate response from the government of Israel and from U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R – FL.) the ranking Republican in the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“It is incomprehensible that these nations who seek to be viewed as responsible stakeholders in world affairs would take a unilateral action like this which undermines the prospects for true, lasting peace in the Middle East,” said Ros-Lehtinen. “These nations have afforded the Palestinian Authority the biggest concession of all without demanding that they swear off violence against the Jewish people and recognize Israel’s right to exist as a democratic, Jewish state.”

Ros-Lehtinen, a leading cosponsor of House Resolution 1734, which reaffirms Congressional opposition to unilateral measures to recognize a Palestinian state, added:  “It is especially disconcerting that Argentina and Uruguay would make this move given their own growing problems with Islamist extremism on their borders.  Their unilateral, unconditional recognition of Palestinian claims will only serve to embolden others worldwide who use violence to advance their agendas.”

The Florida Republican said that “recognizing a Palestinian state instead of requiring the Palestinian Authority to meet any of its commitments is not a choice that a responsible nation would make, and the decision by Brazil and Argentina to do so will negatively affect their respective efforts to join the UN Security Council.”

“I would hope that other nations in the Western Hemisphere refrain from following this misguided approach and, instead, ask that the Palestinian Authority adhere to its international commitments and obligations and unconditionally return to direct negotiations with Israel,”  Ros-Lehtinen said.

At the same time, Israel reacted directly. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said unilateral recognition was “counterproductive” to peacemaking.

Israel officially expressed disappointment Tuesday with Argentina’s recognition of a Palestinian state in territories Israel occupied in 1967, saying they undercut American-led efforts to create such a state through negotiations with Israel.

“This disappointing and damaging decision is contrary to the existing Israeli-Palestinian agreements,” which call for the establishment of a Palestinian state as part of a peace treaty, Palmor said.

Peacemaking efforts ground to a halt in late September, just three weeks after they began, when Israel resisted U.S. and Palestinian efforts to extend a moratorium on housing starts in West Bank settlements.

Palestinians say they won’t return to the negotiating table unless Israel halts all settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. Palestinians want both territories, along with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, for a future state.

Argentina said its move, announced Monday just days after Brazil took a similar step, reflected the country’s deep frustration with gridlocked peace efforts.

Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, played down the significance of the actions by Brazil and Argentina, telling Army Radio that the two nations are “distant” countries that “don’t realize the diplomatic mistake they made.” He said the declarations have no practical meaning.

The Americano / Agencies

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