JERUSALEM, (AFP) – Israel on Saturday said it was disappointed by Brazil’s decision to recognise a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, saying it flew in the face of efforts to negotiate a peace deal.
The decision was announced by outgoing Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in a public letter addressed to Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, which was made public by Brazil’s foreign ministry on Friday.
“The government of Israel expresses sadness and disappointment over the decision by the Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva a month before he steps down,” a statement from the Israeli foreign ministry said.
“Recognition of a Palestinian state is a breach of the interim agreement which was signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 1995 which said that the issue of the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be discussed and resolved through negotiations,” it said.
Such a move also contravened the 2003 Middle East roadmap for peace, which said a Palestinian state could only be established through negotiations and not through unilateral actions, the statement said, warning that unilateral steps would harm attempts to build trust.
“Every attempt to bypass this process and to decide in advance in a unilateral manner about important issues which are disputed, only harms trust between the sides, and hurts their commitment to the agreed framework of negotiating towards peace.”
Lula’s letter was sent in response to a personal request made by Abbas on November 24, the Brazilian document said.
The letter refers to the “legitimate aspiration of the Palestinian people for a secure, united, democratic and economically viable state coexisting peacefully with Israel.”
Although the international community backs Palestinian demands for a state on land seized by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, most Western governments insist that the state should be established through a negotiated peace agreement with Israel.
The move by Brazil comes 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.
Abbas says he will not return to negotiations while Israel continues to build on land the Palestinians want for a future state. But Israel has so far refused to impose a new ban.
Over the last few weeks, Abbas has repeatedly said he would explore other options if peace talks with the Israelis collapse — one of which would see him seeking United Nations’ recognition of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.
On Thursday, a Palestinian official said Washington had officially informed them that attempts to secure a new Israeli settlement freeze had failed, but US officials refused to confirm or deny the report.
Abbas visited Brazil in 2005 and 2009, and Lula made the first-ever trip by a Brazilian head of state to Israel and the Palestinian territories in March this year.