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Palestinians seek recognition of state from European countries

By Kevin Flower, CNN
Senior Palestinian negotiator Nabil Sha'ath said some European countries have yet to recognize an independent Palestinian state.
Senior Palestinian negotiator Nabil Sha'ath said some European countries have yet to recognize an independent Palestinian state.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Palestinian Authority seeks recognition from European countries
  • EU ministers have refused to recognize state in fear of stalling talks
  • Palestinian state would be based on borders prior to the 1967 Arab-Israeli war

Jerusalem (CNN) -- Following the breakdown of direct talks with Israel, Palestinians have begun seeking international recognition of an independent state from European nations.

Officials from the Palestinian Authority told CNN Thursday that the governments of France, Britain, Sweden, and Denmark had formally been asked to recognize a Palestinian state based on borders that existed prior to the 1967 war between Israel and it Arab neighbors.

Senior Palestinian negotiator Nabil Sha'ath told CNN that the requests were part of an ongoing strategy to achieve statehood outside the framework of talks with Israel.

"These were the last ones, but I have been asking all European countries to do the same," Sha'ath said.

He said that while most countries in Africa and Asia had already recognized Palestine as an independent state many countries, including the United States and a number of European nations, did not.

The Israeli government had the choice between settlements and peace and they chose settlements.
--Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat.
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"We still have pockets which have not done so -- we are pursuing each of them" Sha'ath said.

Earlier this week the European Union ruled out recognizing an independent Palestinian state for now, fearing a unilateral declaration might adversely impact efforts to get the Middle East peace process back on track.

"The EU commends the work of the Palestinian Authority in building the institutions of the future State of Palestine and reiterates its full support for their endeavours" read a statement released Monday in Brussels by the 27 EU foreign ministers.

"... the Council reiterates its readiness, when appropriate, to recognize a Palestinian state."

The statement was released the day after the top Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erakat, sent a letter to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, urging the body to back Palestinian Authority attempts to gain international recognition of a sovereign state.

Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay have all moved to recognize an independent Palestinian state in recent weeks, and Palestinian Authority officials are hoping to convince more countries to follow suit.

Both the Isareli and the American governments have opposed such moves insisting that the only way forward is though continued negotiations.

"There is no substitute for negotiations with Israel," Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told CNN. "The fundamental cause of the of breakdown in talks was because of the consistent refusal of Palestinians to engage with Israel."

American sponsored talks between the two sides fell apart in September when Israel resumed settlement construction the in the occupied West Bank after a ten-month freeze.

Saeb Erakat told CNN that is the reason Palestinians would not return to the negotiating table.

"The Israeli government had the choice between settlements and peace and they chose settlements. And they alone are responsible for the derailment of the peace process," he said.

Earlier this month the Obama administration announced it would be abandoning efforts to persuade Israel to renew the settlement freeze as a precondition for jump-starting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Instead the United States is now focusing its efforts on separate talks with each side in hopes of developing a framework agreement on core issues of the conflict that could lead to the resumption of peace talks.

 
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