Palestinians 'regret' US House move

JERUSALEM- The Palestinian Authority on Friday said it regretted a US House of Representatives decision to oppose unilateral measures recognizing a Palestinian state as Bolivia became the latest country to do so.
"We have devoted ourselves to negotiations for nearly two decades and today we are trapped in a framework that thus far has not yet lifted the occupation," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said in a statement.

"Unlike the Israeli government, which is comfortable with the status quo of occupation and continued colonisation, the Palestinian people must seek their freedom through any peaceful channel available to us."
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved a measure condemning unilateral measures to declare or recognise a Palestinian state, and backing a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The move came after Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay in early December recognised a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, the boundaries that existed before Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Bolivia also recognised Palestine as an independent state on Friday in a decision hailed by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
President Evo Morales said his government would send a letter to Abbas, recognising Palestine as "an independent and sovereign state."
Speaking at a news conference in Paraguay, Morales said Bolivia would officially notify international institutions of its decision next week.
He charged that "genocide" was being committed in the region and called on the international community to assume responsibility for preventing it.
Abbas "paid tribute to the Bolivian position supporting the Palestinian people's rights, especially that to create an independent state within 1967 borders," the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported from Ramallah.
Speaking before the Bolivian move, US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said that such recognition by the South Americans was "counter-productive" to achieving Middle East peace.
Erakat on Friday accused the US lower house of placing "one more obstacle towards achieving peace between Palestine and Israel."
"Israel has done nothing but sabotage the efforts of the (US President Barack) Obama administration to restart meaningful negotiations by refusing to freeze settlement expansion and negotiate based on clear terms of reference," Erakat said.
"Through the passage of this resolution, the US Congress is contradicting the policy of the American government to create a Palestinian state by hindering the ability of the Palestinians to navigate around the Israeli government’s obstructionist policies."
The US resolution urges Palestinian leaders to "cease all efforts at circumventing the negotiation process" and calls on foreign governments "not to extend such recognition."
Erakat said: "Recognising the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders is a sovereign, unilateral decision of individual states. While the United States can choose to withhold recognition of our state, it cannot obstruct other countries from exercising this sovereign right."
Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed after Washington admitted it had failed to secure Israel's agreement to a new freeze on settlement building, the Palestinian condition for continuing to negotiate.
The Palestinians also want US recognition of a state of their own, or at least a pledge not to block recognition efforts at the United Nations.

Saturday, December 18th 2010

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