by Elad Benari, Israel national news
Argentina announced on Monday that it recognizes a Palestinian state, calling Palestine “a free and independent state within its 1967 borders,” The Associated Press reported. According to the report, Argentina said the announcement reflects its frustration at the slow progress of peace talks with Israel.
Argentinean President Cristina Kirchner informed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of the decision, Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said. He said that Argentina is “deeply frustrated” that the goals of the 1991 peace talks in Madrid and the Oslo Accords of 1993 still have not been reached. “The time has come to recognize Palestine as a free and independent state,” he was quoted in AP as saying.
Timerman added that Argentina also “ratifies its irrevocable position in favor of the right of Israel to be recognized by everyone and to live in peace and security within its borders. Argentina’s decision to recognize the Palestine state is based in the desire of its authorities to favor the process of negotiation aimed at ending the conflict.”
Argentina’s announcement comes only several days after Brazil announced that it recognizes the Palestinian Authority as a new independent Arab country. Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva sent a letter to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, in which he wrote that Brazil recognizes “Palestine” and hopes that the recognition will help lead to two states, Israel and Palestine, “that will co-exist peacefully and in security.”
Brazil’s announcement was criticized by both Israel and the United States, with Israel expressing “regret and disappointment” with the decision and pointing out that “recognition of a Palestinian state is a violation of the Interim Agreement signed between Israel and the PA in 1995,” a reference to the amended Oslo Accords.
The PA’s Foreign Minister, Riad Malki, praised Argentina’s decision on Monday, telling The Associated Press: “It is really symbolic but it is important because the more countries that recognize the Palestinian state, the more pressure this will put on countries that are hesitant and on the peace process. If Israel keeps refusing to recognize the Palestinian state when other countries do, this will make a difference.”
Earlier on Monday AFP reported that Uruguay would also recognize the state of Palestine, and Malki told AP that he also expects Bolivia and Ecuador to follow.
Israel called Argentina’s announcement “regrettable”, echoing its criticism of Brazil. Abbas, on the other hand, said during his visit to Turkey, that he is “proud” of the decision.
“Uruguay will surely follow the same path as Argentina in 2011,” deputy foreign minister Roberto Conde told AFP. “We are working towards opening a diplomatic representation in Palestine, most likely in Ramallah.”