London, Asharq al-Awsat- Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki has stated to Asharq Al-Awsat that a wave of international recognition of the state of Palestine will take place in the next few weeks, adding that Honduras and South Sudan will be on top of the states that will recognize the Palestinian state. According to Al-Maliki, Honduras will announce its recognition of the Palestinian state on 20 August in spite of the angry reaction by Tel Aviv.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry has recalled its ambassador from the capital of Honduras in protest after Honduras announced during the talks between President Porfirio Lobo and the Palestinian foreign minister the intention of his country to vote in favor of the Palestinian independence and the establishment of the Palestinian state next September.
The Foreign Ministry said, according to its Hebrew website, that “keeping the ambassador is a step that aims at saying to Honduras that we see it as a friendly country that is very close to Israel and that we stood with it at moments that are uneasy at all;’ therefore, we feel a great disappointment with this step, particularly since this is an issue that is very serious for Israel.”
The Republic of South Sudan announced last week that it is going to recognize Palestine as an independent state that is sovereign and that has recognized borders when it submits an application to join the United Nations in spite of the official demand made by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon not to vote in favor of Palestine’s request to join the United Nations. A website has quoted Deng Alor, foreign minister of South Sudan, as saying that it is in the interest of his country to recognize Palestine and Israel since the two sides have recognized South Sudan after it declared its independence on 9 July. He added: “Our stand is clear; we will recognize any state that declares its recognition of us.”
Responding to the decision of the Foreign Ministry to keep its ambassadors to Honduras in Tel Aviv, Al-Maliki said: “It seems that Israel should keep more than one ambassador because we are ahead of a wave of recognition of the state of Palestine soon.”
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Will this wave of recognition focus on a certain continent or on all continents?
[Al-Maliki] I do not want to be specific or to mention names due to the Israeli reactions and to prevent the efforts that may try to stop this wave of recognition. However, I reiterate that the next stage will witness a wave of recognition that will give a great momentum to the Palestinian efforts in going to the United Nations.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How is the situation in Europe?
[Al-Maliki] We are going to continue to follow the situation closely, and the Europeans are discussing the issue internally. The president will continue his visits of these countries and the states in which governments have been changed in order to make sure that no change has taken place in their stands. He will also visit countries that play major roles in the European Union. I will personally visit some countries that (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu has visited and talk is heard about a change in their stands. We will visit these states even though we are certain that they would not deviate from the European consensus concerning the right to self determination for the Palestinian people.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you think that the European vote will be united or will each state vote the way it believes is appropriate?
[Al-Maliki] Although we want to see a collective and united stand for the 27 states, we know well that some countries, whose number is very small, will try to obstruct such effort in service of the Israeli stand; therefore, a separate voting by each state is sure to take place. We will coordinate with the EU on the text of the draft resolution to en sure that all the EU states vote for the resolution, and we will not give a justification for the EU not to vote for this resolution.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] But there are European countries whose vote for the resolution is guaranteed.
[Al-Maliki] We have a conviction that a group of the EU states will vote for the draft resolution, but there are countries whose voting depends on the text and formula of the draft resolution; therefore, we will coordinate with them so that the drafting of the resolution be in line with the EU language to ensure that no EU state would deviate from the consensus and that they would vote for the draft resolution.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is the number of the votes needed for the adoption of the resolution at the General Assembly if the Security Council supports the request to have a UN membership and Washington does not use the veto right?
[Al-Maliki] This depends on the way that is followed. If we go directly to the Security Council and demand support for the membership request, and if we succeed in this, we will need 129 votes out of 193, which is the number of the UN member states.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] But as the Palestinians admit, there are only 122 states that recognize Palestine.
[Al-Maliki] Yes, and that is why we are continuing our efforts. We will reach this number after the wave of recognition that is going to take place in the next few weeks. As much as the number of those who will vote for the resolution increases, this would create a positive climate in the interest of discussing the issue at the level of the Security Council. Therefore, we are going to win the largest number possible of votes in the remaining time.
Al-Maliki refused to disclose the names of the countries that the Palestinian Authority seeks to obtain their recognition and support at the United Nations so that not expose any of these countries to pressures that may be employed on them, whether by Israeli or others, as he said, and what is more important is the others, as he said, without specifying the identity of the others (the United States).
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How many countries will participate in the Caribbean states meeting due to be convened in El Salvador on 17 August?
[Al-Maliki] I think the number of the countries that will participate will be 19, which are the Caribbean and the Central America states.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Are you personally satisfied with the development of things in this respect?
[Al-Maliki] Yes, yes, and I can say that the efforts are continuing. Since the meeting of the Palestinian ambassadors in Istanbul two weeks ago to work out a strategy for these efforts, I have been in this region (the Caribbean) and I have not left it because this is a mission that is very important, and I am carrying it out very carefully and I hope to achieve positive results soon.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How many Latin and Central American states recognize the state of Palestine?
[Al-Maliki] All the South American states recognize Palestine except for Colombia. In Central America, there are two countries that recognize it, which are Nicaragua and Costa Rica. In the Caribbean Sea, Only Cuba and the Dominican Republic do so. This means that a large number of these states have thus far not recognized Palestine. Therefore, we concentrate our efforts on this region because it will make a great difference in case they recognize. I concluded today my visits to seven islands of the Caribbean Sea, and we are going to assess the situation before the meeting due to take place for all Caribbean states in El Salvador on 19 August, and we hope that they would reach the appropriate decision concerning the recognition.