The United States and Russia on Tuesday followed the example of a growing number of South American countries by taking steps to openly recognize a Palestinian Arab state on the ancient Jewish lands of Judea and Samaria.
Speaking to the press in Jericho during his visit to the Palestinian Authority, Russian President Dimitry Medvedev noted that Russia had already recognized a Palestinian state when Yasser Arafat first declared independence in 1988.
“We have supported the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital since the last century, and we still support it,” said Medvedev.
Palestinian officials declared Medvedev’s remarks to be “historic” and graciously thanked Russia for joining the chorus of voice recognizing a Palestinian Arab state in the absence of a peace agreement with Israel.
The Russian leader’s statement was “an historic move to make the Palestinians proud for a very long time to come,” said chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.
Medvedev’s visit was also notable as it was the first time that the leader of a major world power had visited only the Palestinian Authority without first touring Israel and meeting with its leaders. Medvedev backed up his words by actually treating the Palestinian Authority as a sovereign state.
Hours later, the Obama Administration allowed the Palestinians to raise their flag over the Palestinian Authority diplomatic mission in Washington for the first time ever, symbolically transforming the location into a national embassy.
Republican officials were furious with the move.
Voicing the concern of many, including many in Israel, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) noted that “raising this flag in DC is part of the Palestinian leadership’s scheme to manipulate international acceptance and diplomatic recognition of a yet-to-be-created Palestinian state, while refusing to directly negotiate with Israel, or accept the existence of Israel as a democratic, Jewish state.”
Ileana, who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the Palestinians believe they can continue “extracting concessions without being required to meet international commitments,” and that Obama is playing right into their hands.