The Irish ambassador to Israel, Breifne O’Reilly, was summoned to the foreign ministry in Jerusalem Jan. 25 to be dressed down by Israeli officials over Dublin’s move to upgrade the status of the Palestinian delegation to Ireland to a mission. Israel’s ambassador in Dublin, Boaz Modai, also said he will visit the Department of Foreign Affairs to protest the diplomatic upgrade announced the previous day as harmful to peace efforts. (Irish Times, Jan. 26)
In Ramallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said his government was working hard to establish international recognition of a Palestinian state, and voiced public thanks Peru for its recognition the previous day of a “free and sovereign” Palestine. The president said he was informed by his Peruvian counterpart that 10 more countries would recognize a Palestinian state at an upcoming summit in Latin America.
“The whole world recognizes a Palestinian independent state with Jerusalem as its capital,” said Abbas. “We are proud that the great president of Russia visited us and confirmed recognition of Palestinian state. “He paid a toll as a criminal act was taken in his own country,” Abbas said, referring to the suicide bombing at Moscow’s international airport. “We will continue to seek our rights undeterred.” (Ma’an News Agency Jan. 25)
Peru announced Jan. 24 that it is joining the growing number of Latin American states that have recognized Palestine. “Palestine is recognised as a free and sovereign state,” Peru’s foreign minister, José Antonio García Belaúnde, told RPP radio. “There was no pressure from any side. We have acted with freedom and independence.” (The Guardian, Jan. 25)
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Jan. 24 said Russia (then still under Soviet rule) had recognized an independent Palestinian state in 1988 and was not changing that position. Speaking at a joint televised news conference with Abbas in Jericho, Medvedev said in Moscow: “We made our decision then and we have not changed it today.” (Reuters, Jan. 18)
Last week, the PLO raised the Palestinian flag for the first time yesterday over its diplomatic offices in Washington DC—an act made possible when the State Department upgraded the PLO mission from a representative office to a general delegation last August. “It’s about time that this flag that symbolizes the struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination and statehood be raised in the United States,” PLO Chief of Mission Maen Areikat said. “I think it indicates the willingness of the American administration to deal with the realities on the ground.”
But the move was vociferously protested by Israel’s apologists. The Jewish press in the US and pro-Israel think-tanks in Washington gave prominent play to statements by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FLA), who said” “Raising this flag in DC is part of the Palestinian leadership’s scheme to manipulate international acceptance and diplomatic recognition of a yet-to-be-created Palestinian state, while refusing to directly negotiate with Israel, or accept the existence of Israel as a democratic, Jewish state.”
Ghaith al-Omari, advocacy director for the American Task Force on Palestine, defended the move, saying the Palestinian Authority should be rewarded for establishing “security” (for Israel?): “The PLO mission would never have been…upgraded if it had not been for the progress the Palestinians have made…on improving security and governance. It shows the Palestinians that once they start building their institutions and [using] diplomacy, that there are political dividends for that behavior.” (Jewish Policy Center, Jerusalem Post, Washington Jewish Week, Jan. 19)