Abbas and Lula
Brazil has recognized a Palestinian state within the borders of 1967, including East-Jeruzalem. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced the decision Friday in a letter addressed to Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and published on the website of Brazil's foreign ministry. The Brazilian Foreign Ministry said the recognition is in response to a request made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last month to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Lula said in his letter to Abbas that he hopes that the recognition will help lead the states of Israel and Palestine to "coexist peacefully and in security." The international community backs Palestinian demands for a state in most of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and east Jerusalem, all territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. But the United States and most Western governments have held back from recognizing a Palestinian state, saying it should be brought about through a negotiated peace agreement with Israel.
Brazil's recognition could play a role when the PA would announce the birth of a state unilaterally. But the move was sharply criticized by members of the US Congres. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.called it "regrettable'' and said the decision ''will only serve to undermine peace and security in the Middle East." Ros-Lehtinen, set to chair the panel come January, said "responsible nations" would wait to take such a step until Palestinians return to direct talks with Israel and recognize its "right to exist as a Jewish state."
Brazil's decision also drew fire from Democratic Representative Eliot Engel, who said it "is severely misguided and represents a last gasp by a Lula-led foreign policy which was already substantially off track."
Engel tied the move to Lula's "coddling" of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and warned that Brazil "wants to establish itself as a voice in the world, but is making the wrong choices as it tries to do so."
"One can only hope that the new leadership coming into Brazil will change course and understand that this is not the way to gain favor as an emerging power or to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council."
Lula will be stepping down in four weeks' time and handing power over to Dilma Roussef, his protegee and former cabinet chief.