JERUSALEM, Israel - Israel responded to several South American countries Tuesday, saying their recognition of an independent Palestinian state as defined by lines before the 1967 Six-Day War was shocking and an "empty gesture."
Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman presented a letter Monday sent by Argentine President Cristina Kirchner to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
In the letter, Kirchner wrote that her government "recognizes Palestine as a free and independent state within the borders defined as 1967," the AFP reported.
Shortly after Argentina's announcement, Uruguay said it would also follow suit and recognize a Palestinian state in 2011.
On Friday, Brazil said it recognized a Palestinian state based on the lines between Israel and the Palestinians before the 1967 Six-Day war, in response to a request by Abbas to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
The lines in question were never actually borders, but were the 1949 ceasefire lines that left Jordan in control of the West Bank - biblical Judea and Samaria - and eastern Jerusalem, including the Old City. Egypt remained in control of the Gaza Strip following Israel's 1948 War of Independence.
"We were surprised," Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told CBN News. "There were no precursory signs. They did not give us any heads up. They just went ahead and did it."
The Palestinians have been threatening to call for such recognition from the international community if there was no progress in talks with the Israelis.
Negotiations stalled in September after a 10-month Israeli building freeze in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria expired. Palestinians have demanded another freeze before they will return to the talks.
The announcements were said to have been made to help the peace process, but Palmor said it would do the opposite.
"It goes against the legal foundation of the peace process," Palmor said.
"The peace process is based on the Israeli-Palestinian interim agreement, which clearly states that the final status of the West Bank and Gaza can only be the outcome of the negotiations and that a final peace treaty has to be mutually agreed," he said.