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South American Nations Recognize Palestinian State

December 8, 2010
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Despite the fact that Palestinians have threatened to go to the United Nations for statehood recognition outside of peace talks with Israel, the Brazilians do not think their recognition showed opposition to a negotiated deal. Said the press statement, “The conviction that negotiations between Israel and Palestine are vital for the achievement of mutual concessions on the main issues of the conflict has not been abandoned with this decision.”

Argentina’s recognition, published on their foreign ministry Web site, was similar to Brazil’s and noted their support for peace negotiations, while also pointing out the “state of deep frustration” as the Oslo peace process has not yet achieved its goals. Israeli Prime Minister’s Office Spokesman Mark Regev, in an interview with Bridges for Peace, thought the moves are “largely symbolic, but they’re symbolic in the wrong direction.”  

“The effort today has to be to encourage the resumption of direct peace talks,” said Regev. “Because ultimately only sitting around the same table, Palestinians and Israelis, eyeball-to-eyeball, can we negotiate the very tough issues that need to be negotiated in order to establish peace. And I think it would be much more beneficial if foreign governments were calling on the Palestinians to return to negotiations.”

The United States also critiqued the move. In comments to the press and posted on the State Department’s Web site, spokesman Philip Crowley said, “We don’t think that we should be distracted from the fact that the only way to resolve the core issues within the process is through direct negotiations. That remains our focus. And we do not favor that course of action [willingness to recognize a Palestinian state]. As we’ve said many, many times, any unilateral action, we believe, is counterproductive.”

While Regev was not concerned the South American recognition would turn into a momentum towards UN recognition, he nonetheless said the Palestinians were receiving the wrong message. “I think there are concerns that the Palestinians have over the last few months taken a policy choice to avoid direct talks,” said Regev.  

“And to give them the illusion that this is a good decision, that there’s somehow a solution without negotiations, that somehow the outside will enforce a solution on the parties, it’s a dream, it’s not going to happen, and therefore it’s just going to lead to frustration.”

Whether it was intended or not by the South American nations, some Palestinians appear to be getting the perception that the outside will do it for them. The Jerusalem Post reported the Palestinians were pleased with the steps taken by Brazil and Argentina, with some Palestinian officials noting the recognition is a positive indicator should the Palestinians turn to the UN Security Council. It remains unclear if this reflects the official intention of the Palestinian leadership.

A PA Foreign Ministry source told The Jerusalem Post more South American nations have shown willingness towards recognizing a Palestinian state. Abbas is also seeking recognition from European states and Canada.

In his interview with Bridges for Peace, Regev said the American response to the matter was encouraging. He also said he thought that everyone “serious” about the peace process knows the final arrangement needs to be reached by the parties themselves. Nonetheless, regarding the recognition matter Regev said Israel is engaging with the “relevant governments” with the message “yes to peace, yes to negotiations. And what we’re telling our friends in the international community is that the message today must be a message that calls upon the Palestinians to return to negotiations.

“Ultimately only direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations can create peace…But if Palestinians believe that they don’t have to show any flexibility, that the international community is going to then automatically support all their positions, why would they compromise [in a deal]? And therefore, you have an illusion of peace without negotiation; it’s not going to help peace.”

Posted on December 8, 2010

Source: (By Joshua Spurlock, BFP Israel Mosaic Radio, December 7, 2010)

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