JERUSALEM (JTA) — Brazil has recognized a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced in a public letter.
The letter addressed to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, which was made public last Friday, recognizes what it calls the "legitimate aspiration of the Palestinian people for a secure, united, democratic and economically viable state coexisting peacefully with Israel."
Abbas had made the request to Lula last month to recognize a Palestinian state, Bloomberg reported. Lula, who is stepping down next month as president after eight years in office, made his first visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories in March.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it was disappointed by the Brazilian declaration.
"Recognition of a Palestinian state is a breach of the interim agreement which was signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 1995, which said that the issue of the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be discussed and resolved through negotiations," the statement said. "Every attempt to bypass this process and to decide in advance in a unilateral manner about important issues which are disputed only harms trust between the sides and hurts their commitment to the agreed framework of negotiating towards peace."
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the incoming chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, also expressed her objections, as did Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the outgoing chairman of the Latin America subcommittee.
“Brazil’s decision to recognize a Palestinian state is regrettable and will only serve to undermine peace and security in the Middle East," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement.
Engel blamed the decision on the leftward tilt of Brazil’s outgoing government.
"Brazil’s decision to recognize Palestine is severely misguided and represents a last gasp by a Lula-led foreign policy which was already substantially off track," Engel said in a statement. "One can only hope that the new leadership coming into Brazil will change course and understand that this is not the way to gain favor as an emerging power or to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council."