Uruguay announced on Tuesday it had recognized a Palestinian state, becoming the latest in a string of Latin American countries to make an endorsement in recent months the United States has called premature.
Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia have recently recognized the Palestine state along borders that existed before the 1967 war. Chile and Peru have also given recognition to a Palestinian state, but without specifying borders.
Uruguay recognition of a Palestinian state is without specifying borders to avoid interfering in an issue that would require a bilateral agreement.
In a statement, the foreign ministry said the decision to recognise a Palestine state showed Uruguay's firm commitment to the Middle East peace process.
We have a longing shared by most of the international community that in the near future, the Palestinian and Israeli people can coexist in peace, the statement said.
Foreign Affairs minister Luis Almagro said President Jose Mujica wrote the Palestinian ambassador in Argentina, Walid Muaqqat, to announce the decision by Montevideo to recognize the Palestinian state as an independent sovereign state consistent with UN Resolution 242, which called for return of territories Israel seized during the Six-Day War.
Mujica in his letter expressed the firm commitment of Uruguay to the peace process in the Middle East and to the gradual strengthening of bonds between Uruguay with the Palestinian people and the Palestinian National Authority.
Almagro said that the diplomatic event also includes the opening of embassies in Ramallah and Montevideo, “for which ambassadors have already been nominated and accepted”.
Palestinian authorities are hoping for a diplomatic domino effect to support their claim for a state in all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israel disputes the Palestinian claim on the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, areas it captured from Jordan during the Six-Day War in 1967 and has extensively settled.
In December, Israel said the recognition of a Palestinian state by Latin American countries was highly damaging interference by parties that were never part of the Middle East peace process.
US Under Secretary of State William Burns said in a visit to Chile late last year that the move by Latin American nations was premature
One hundred nations already recognize Palestine, including 11 of 12 South American nations. Colombia, a close US ally in the region, is the lone holdout.