After Brazil, Argentina recognizes Palestine

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - 00:11

Buenos Aires: Argentina said on Monday it
recognised a "free and independent" Palestinian state, days
after Brazil drew sharp criticism from Israel and US lawmakers
for taking the same step.

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner wrote to
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas saying her country recognises
a Palestine defined by 1967 borders, officials said.

"The Argentine government recognises Palestine as a
free and independent state within the borders defined in
1967," Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said,
reading from the letter.

Israel has already reacted with "sadness and
disappointment" to Brazil`s declaration on the issue, saying
it breached a 1995 agreement it had with the Palestinian
Authority that any Palestinian state should only come about
through negotiations with it.

US lawmakers have called Brazil`s decision "severely
misguided" and "regrettable."

Western countries have agreed that any definition of a
Palestinian state required Israeli approval. The United States
has consistently protected Israel`s position in the UN
Security Council.

Argentina`s move came after Brazil last Friday made
public a letter it had sent also recognising a Palestinian
state including West Bank and Gaza, which Israel seized in the
1967 Six Day War and has occupied since.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who had
sought a mediator role in the Israeli-Palestinian situation,
made the decision shortly before he is to stand down on
January 1 next year.

His protege and former cabinet chief, Dilma Rousseff,
has been elected to take over from him on pledges to pursue
his policies.

Argentina said its recognition of a Palestinian state
reflected a general consensus in Mercosur, the South American
trade bloc.

Mercosur`s members are: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay
and Uruguay. Venezuela`s membership is pending. Associate
members are: Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador Ecuador and
Peru.

The announcements by Brazil and Argentina come as
peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians teeter on the
brink of collapse following the end of a temporary ban on
Jewish settlement building in the West Bank.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman today said
he did "not see any reason" to extend the settlement freeze.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has said he will
not return to negotiations while Israel continues to build on
land the Palestinians want for their state.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - 00:11

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