U.S., Europe Move Away from 'Unilateral Palestine'

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JERUSALEM, Israel - The United States and Europe are moving away from the idea of unilaterally recognizing a Palestinian state, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon said on Wednesday.

Speaking on state-run Israel radio, Ya'alon said that both Egypt and Jordan, along with Israel, fear a Hamas takeover of Judea and Samaria - the West Bank - where the Western-backed Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas is currently in control.

According to Ya'alon, a unilaterally declared Palestinian entity would be a failing authority, a hostile authority, and in the end "Hamastan."

Earlier this month Israel and the U.S. criticized the declaration of South American countries unilaterally recognizing the state of Palestine based on what it said were the 1967 borders.

In fact that is a common mistake since there were no 1967 borders. The reference is to the 1949 armistice lines between Israel and Jordan and Egypt in areas where Palestinians lived at the time. Those boundaries were between Israel and Jordan in Judea and Samaria - including eastern Jerusalem - and Israel and Egypt in the Gaza Strip since there never was an independent Palestinian state.

Brazil was the first country this month to say that it recognized aPalestinian state, followed by Argentina. Uruguay has also indicted its likely intention to follow suit.

Abbas is scheduled to lay the cornerstone of a new Palestinian Embassy in the Brazilian capital at a ground-breaking ceremony on Friday, AFP reported.

Two weeks ago, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly adopted a resolution declaring that a "true and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties" and urged U.S. leaders to "deny recognition to any unilaterally declared Palestinian state" as well as veto any U.N. Security Council resolution intended to establish a Palestinian state outside of a negotiated agreement.

Abbas said he had no choice but to ask for unilateral recognition after the most recent round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations collapsed.

But Israeli experts say the Palestinians have changed their strategy and are asking for unilateral recognition because they believe they can get more out of it than if they come to a negotiated deal with Israel.

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Julie Stahl

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