Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay this week became the first three nations to officially recognize a sovereign Palestinian Arab state, a stunt Israel and the US warned would only harm peace efforts.
On Monday, Argentina announced its recognition of “Palestine as a free and independent state.” The declaration came less than a week after Brazil had similarly recognized “the state of Palestine based on its pre-1967 borders.” Uruguay promised to follow suit in 2011.
Israeli officials were furious.
“They never made any contribution to [the peace process] and now they’re making a decision that is completely contrary to everything that has been agreed so far,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told Israel’s Ynet news portal. “It is absurd.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon added, “Such a declaration today only harms the peace process, because it merely encourages the Palestinians to keep digging in.” Ayalon said that thankfully, the South American declarations were being rejected by the US, whose support is needed to obtain UN recognition of a Palestinian state.
Naturally, the Palestinian Authority was pleased with the developments, and officials in Ramallah hoped the decision of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay to recognize “Palestine” would start an avalanche that would force Israel, the US and the UN to do the same.
Speaking to Israel’s Army Radio on Tuesday, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat somehow insisted that the PA’s seeking recognition from these countries is not a unilateral action. He did not elaborate, but did point out that the PA under Yasser Arafat had already declared statehood in 1988, and today operates embassies in 104 countries around the world.
He did not address the fact that the current Israeli-Palestinian agreements forbid the PA from conducting foreign relations until a final status agreement is reached. That Palestinian violation has been allowed to continue unchallenged for 15 years.