Chile and Paraguay are expected to recognize an independent Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders in the coming weeks, says Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki. Today, the Chilean Senate approved a resolution requesting that President Sebastián Piñera recognize a “free and sovereign Palestinian state.” President Piñera is also expected to travel to the West Bank within the next few months.
President Piñera met one-on-one with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday in Brazil during the inauguration of President Dilma Rousseff. Abbas had traveled to the inauguration to thank Latin American presidents who have recently recognized a Palestinian state. These include the presidents of Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Ecuador—apparently in response to increased efforts by Abbas to seek international recognition of a Palestinian state at a time of stalemate in the peace process.
The recent spate of recognitions has somewhat confounded Israeli politicians, as no South American country has been directly involved in peace negotiations. Chile, however, is home to a population of about 350,000 Christian Palestinians, and like many of its neighbors, has a substantial Jewish community. Nonetheless, Israel has said that the South American declarations are a “highly damaging interference” by countries that were never part of the peace process.
For its part, Colombia has said it will not recognize a sovereign Palestinian state until a two-state peace accord with Israel is reached. And while Mexico has in the past expressed concern over Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, its foreign ministry has not indicated that it would follow suit behind Brazil and others. Spanish President José Rodriguez Zapatero has promised that Spain will recognize an independent Palestinian state in 2011, the only European Union country to do so.