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Symbolic Recognition of Palestinian State by Latin American Countries

Posted: January 24, 2011

As of January 24, 2011


Beginning in early December 2010, a series of Latin American countries announced their formal recognition of a Palestinian state based on borders in existence prior to the 1967 Six-Day War. Brazilís December 3 recognition of such a Palestinian state was followed shortly by that of Argentina, then Bolivia and Ecuador. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas laid the cornerstone for a Palestinian Embassy in Brasilia on Friday, December 31, 2010. On Friday, January 28, 2011, Paraguay also recognized a "free and independent" Palestinian state within 1967 borders. Chile and Peru announced earlier in January 2011 that they would recognize a state but that borders must be mutually agreed upon by both sides of the conflict.

Uruguay and Mexico are expected to follow suit in the coming weeks/months by recognizing Palestinian statehood. It is still unclear whether they plan to include recognition of specific borders.

Colombia has said it would not recognize a Palestinian State at this time until a mutual peace agreement will be reached. Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, and Belize have not indicated their positions.

Despite internationally recognized agreements requiring the Palestinians to negotiate with Israel on the issue of establishing a Palestinian state, P.A. President Abbas, has been actively violating these obligations by lobbying European and other leaders to recognize a Palestinian state. According to a January 10, 2011 interview with; Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki explains "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 I really took advantage of so many communities of Palestinian origin that live in South and Central America. I mobilized their support in our approach. Secondly, I do speak Spanish and this made it easier for me to have direct contact with my counterparts in such countries. Also, in the last couple of years, most of these countries have changed to the left, which has made them more able and ready to respond positively to our approach."


The United States has rejected this tactic, and U.S. officials have repeatedly stated that a Palestinian state will be established through direct, bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and not through unilateral Palestinian actions and declarations.


These announcements are the most recent expression of a trend of Latin American countries. In recent years, Costa Rica (2008), Venezuela (2009), Nicaragua and Cuba have also made symbolic recognitions of a Palestinian State.


The Anti-Defamation League also believes that any recognition of a Palestinian state at this time is inappropriate and harmful to the peace process. After Costa Rica s 2008 recognition of Palestinian statehood and opening of official diplomatic ties with "a state of Palestine", ADL said it was "surprised and deeply troubled by the decision by Costa Rica to establish diplomatic relations and to exchange embassies with a non-existent state of Palestine. The United States House of Representatives passed a resolution, H.Res.1765, on December 15, 2010, supporting a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and condemning unilateral measures to declare or recognize a Palestinian state, and for other purposes."


Israel and the international community are committed to pursuing the establishment of an independent Palestinian state that would be the result of mutual negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. As part of such a negotiated agreement, it is expected that the Palestinian Authority would meet the requirements established by the international community to ensure the safety and security of Israeli citizens. Until such an agreement is reached, endowing the Palestinian Authority with the full distinctions of statehood is premature, and undermines the negotiating process.


Diplomatic relationships between the Palestinian Authority and Latin American governments continue to grow. Latin American leaders and ten Arab heads of state are preparing to participate in the Third Summit of Latin American-Arab Countries (ASPA) being held in Lima, Peru February 12-16, 2011 aimed at enhancing economic relations. There is a danger that this summit may provide Palestinian leadership with yet another opportunity to evade its international obligations by seeking further unilateral and symbolic recognition of a Palestinian state by other Latin American countries.


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