Abbas to lay foundation stone of Palestinian embassy in Brazil
RAMALLAH: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas was to travel to Brazil later on Wednesday to lay the symbolic foundation stone of a Palestinian embassy in Brasilia.
The ceremony is to take place on Friday and comes after Brazil announced it was recognising a Palestinian state based on the borders which existed before the 1967 Six-Day War when Israel seized the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
On Saturday, Abbas is due to attend the inauguration of Brazil's new president, Dilma Rousseff, and expected to hold meetings with Latin American leaders in Brazil for the ceremony.
Brazil's outgoing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on December 3 that his country would recognise a Palestinian state following a personal request from Abbas.
"The demand presented by his excellency (Abbas) is just and consistent with the principles upheld by Brazil with regard to the Palestinian issue," Brazil's foreign ministry said.
The announcement angered both Israel and the United States, which have said a Palestinian state can only be achieved through a negotiated peace deal.
But a string of other Latin American countries, including Bolivia, Argentina and Ecuador, have followed suit, and Uruguay has said it will recognise a Palestinian state on the same basis in 2011.
Other Latin American countries, including Cuba, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Venezuela, already recognised Palestinian statehood several years ago.
The Brazilian recognition comes as the Palestinians seeks bilateral recognition of their statehood from around the world, with their peace talks with Israel in an impasse.
Direct peace negotiations, the first in nearly two years, were launched on September 2 in Washington but stalled just weeks later when an Israeli settlement freeze in the West Bank expired.
Abbas has refused to return to talks while Israel builds on land the Palestinians want for a future state, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to put a new freeze in place. The United States has proposed the two sides resume indirect talks.
The Palestinians have refused and said they will turn instead to alternative options, including bilateral recognition of statehood and going to the United Nations to seek recognition. Abbas visited Brazil in 2005 and 2009, while Lula made the first ever trip by a Brazilian head of state to Israel and the Palestinian territories in March of this year. -Afp