President of Colombia says predecessor’s decision to recognize a Palestinian state is ‘irreversible’


(JTA) — President Ivan Duque of Colombia said the decision by his predecessor to recognize a Palestinian state days before he left office is “irreversible.”

Outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos in an Aug. 3 letter to the Palestinian representative in Colombia said he had decided to “recognize Palestine as a free, independent and sovereign state.”

“Damage was done by the fact that there was not more institutional discussion,” Duque said Monday in an interview with a local radio station. “President Santos told me that he had made that decision, but it is irreversible.

“We would have benefited from more analyses [about recognizing Palestine]. What we, the international community, should not do is be part of the problem. Instead, we must be part of the solution. The solution is to form lasting peace, stability, and that the two-state solution will move forward.”

Duque said he believes a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the best one.

At least 136 countries have recognized a Palestinian state, including all the countries in South America.

Duque said during the campaign that he would consider moving the country’s embassy to Jerusalem. Colombia abstained from the December vote in the United Nations General Assembly on a resolution calling for the United States not to move its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv nor recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Palestinians claim eastern Jerusalem for their capital.

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