London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Bolivia is the latest country to recognize the State of Palestine after it officially announced yesterday that it recognized a sovereign Palestinian State along its 1967 borders.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday welcomed Bolivia’s recognition of a Palestinian state and praised the bilateral relations between the two countries..
Mahmoud Abbas said that he learned that Bolivia had officially recognized the state of Palestine three days ago during a telephone conversation with Bolivian President Evo Morales. During this conversation, Morales informed Abbas that Bolivia had taken the decision to recognize an “independent” Palestinian state based upon the 1967 borders.
In a recent telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas revealed that he expects Ecuador to be the fourth South American country to recognize the State of Palestine. Abbas, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat from Amman, Jordan, confirmed that the Palestinian Authority was seeking to convince more Latin American and Asian countries to official recognize a Palestinian State based upon the 1967 borders.
Responding to a question about his expectations from Europe [with regards to the recognition of a Palestinian State], Abbas praised Norway for upgrading the status of the Palestinian mission in its country from a “general delegation” to a “diplomatic mission.” He also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that he was satisfied and content with regards to the European position towards the Palestinian issue as stated in the most recent European Union [EU] statement. Abbas added “we do not want to pressure European countries at this time.”
President Abbas also expressed his satisfaction regarding a statement issued by the Arab League Monitoring Committee for the Arab Peace Initiative, which concluded its meeting in Cairo on Wednesday evening. He told Asharq Al-Awsat that “our Arab brothers did not object to what was proposed in the meeting.” He also confirmed that there is a sense of Arab discontent towards the American position, and its threat to veto any Arab resolution [calling for the recognition of the state of Palestine] at the UN Security Council.
Answering a question as to whether the Palestinians had asked US Peace Envoy George Mitchell for guarantees regarding the 1967 borders, Mahmoud Abbas said “we asked them to commit to the position held by the George W. Bush Administration regarding the 1967 borders and the handover of security in some areas to a third party, not Israel. However they [also] did not agree on this even.” Despite this, Mahmoud Abbas told Asharq Al-Awsat that he had instructed the Palestinian delegation at the UN – in cooperation with the Arab bloc – to call for a Security Council meeting to discuss the issue of settlement building.
Bolivia’s recognition [of Palestine] comes approximately two weeks after both Brazil and Argentina announced their official recognition of the State of Palestine. This also comes just 24 hours after Norway raised the Palestinians diplomatic status from that of a “general delegation” to a “diplomatic mission” with the head of the Palestinian diplomatic mission now enjoying diplomatic immunity in Norway. This follow a similar move by France in July 2010 which saw Paris raise the diplomatic status of the Palestinian mission to its country from that of a “delegation” to a “diplomatic mission” led by an ambassador. In the past few days, the Palestinian Authority has also official requested –for the first time – that European countries recognize a Palestinian State should one be declared, even in the absence of a peace agreement with Israel. Palestinian officials announced that the Palestinian Authority had formally contacted Britain, France, Sweden, and Denmark to officially recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.
The Bolivian decision to formally recognize the State of Palestine is widely expected to be condemned by the US, as was the case with the Argentinean and Brazilian decisions. These decisions resulted in the US Congress condemning unilateral measures to declare or recognize a Palestinian State, and called on the Obama administration to veto any attempt to establish or seek recognition of a Palestinian state via the UN Security Council, as the Palestinian Authority has previously threatened.
In a statement to Asharq al-Awsat, PLO representative to the US Maen Rashid Areikat said that he considers this congressional resolution to be an attempt to influence the Obama administration, disrupt its efforts, and prevent it from taking any steps to resolve the Palestinian – Israeli conflict. Areikat also revealed that the Palestinians had spoken with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Peace Envoy George Mitchell last week and informed them that the Palestinians were displeased with Washington’s condemnation of Brazil and Argentina’s recognition of a Palestinian State along the 1967 borders, saying that this was something that the Americans themselves recognized.
Areikat also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “we asked the Americans about what harm there is in countries recognizing the Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, as the Americans themselves are calling for this. We also informed them that the Palestinian efforts would continue in this direction…in the sense that we will not stop appealing to countries around the world to recognize the Palestinian state. This is our right and the right of this state.”
Representative Areikat also added that “we have passed on messages to certain parties that have influence and relations with Israel, informing them that the US Congress should not involve itself in Middle Easter affairs if it doesn’t have anything positive to say.”
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bolivia’s recognition of the Palestinian state came in a speech President Evo Morales delivered to the Mercosur Summit on Friday, which was also attended by a number of South American heads of state. Morales began his speech by saying “Bolivia recognizes Palestine as an independent state along 1967 borders, together with Brazil and Argentina.” This announcement prompted a standing ovation from all the South American heads of states attending the summit.
With this announcement Bolivia joined a number of other Latin American and South American countries that formally recognize the State of Palestine, including Cuba, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela, whilst Uruguay has announced that it will recognize a Palestinian State in 2011.