Brazil, Argentina recognize Palestinian State

Brazil has publicly recognized the state of Palestine based on borders before Israel seized control of the West Bank in 1967, and said it is a “legitimate aspiration of the Palestinian people for a secure, united, democratic and economically viable state co-existing peacefully with Israel.” Neighboring Argentina has also recognized Palestine as a “free and independent state,” just days after Brazil’s announcement.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Brazilian leader Lula da Silva

Brazil’s decision is in line with the country’s  historic support for United Nations resolutions demanding the end of Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, and doesn’t detract from the country’s support for peace negotiations between the two sides, the Brazilian foreign ministry said in a statement. The Argentine foreign ministry said the recognition was in response to a request made by the head of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas during a visit to Argentina last year.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said recently that he expects Uruguay and Paraguay to recognize Palestinian statehood in the next few days, followed by Bolivia and Ecuador.

Brazil has been taking actions for Palestine’s recognition for a long time. Brazil’s President Lula has been saying “…that he hopes he can serve as a peacemaker in the region.”  Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay are members of one bloc – Mercosur, the fourth largest trading bloc after the European Union.

In September 2009, the Brazilian Parliamentary Commission on Foreign Relations and National Defense has recommended that the parliament should not ratify the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the Mercosur bloc and the State of Israel until “Israel accepts the creation of the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders”. This decision was considered an explicit act of pressure on Israel to comply with international law, and a rejection of years of incessant Israeli lobbying, pressuring for a vote to ratify the agreement.

Finally, in March 2010 the Mercosur bloc agreed to a free trade agreement with Israel, which became its first non-Latin American member.

With the actions taken, Brazil and the Mercosur bloc itself can become an important mediators and the possible regulators of the long smoldering conflict in the region. Brazil managed to strengthen its ties with both Israel and Palestine, by signing a trade agreement with one and recognizing the other.

In fact, the agreement did contribute to the peace in the region. It effected not only Palestine-Israel relations, but the situation with Iran too.

“The decision by Argentina and Brazil is a normal reaction of these countries leadership to the action taken by the U.S.,” said the deputy director of the Russian Institute of Latin American countries, Boris Martynov.

“These actions are directed primarily against America. Argentina is no longer an American satellite, as it was in 1990.” However, Brazil is the leader here, and Argentina follows its actions. In recent years, with the strengthening of the Brazilian economy, Lula took more steps that were not happily perceived by the U.S. On top of everything, Brazil together with Turkey has recently made a proposal regarding Iran’s uranium enrichment.

According to the Open Market, a strong economic relation between Brazil and Israel helps to promote stability due to the possibility of severe economic loss. Brazil clearly wants peace, economic stimulation and prosperity to drive Israel and Iran away from potential conflict. Lula visited both nations talking about cooperation in economy.

Iran does not want to lose Brazil as an ally, and Israel will not want to lose Brazil as an economic trading partner, so Brazil may be able to play a stronger role in “brokering” better relations between the two countries.

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