A top Israeli official says the United States may soon join other countries that have formally recognized an independent Palestinian state, if Tel Aviv continues to stall the peace process.
Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer declared Sunday that Israel’s very existence depends on the renewal of the Middle East negotiations.
During a meeting with cabinet ministers on Sunday, Ben-Eliezer stressed that Israel should do "everything possible" to restart dialogue with Palestinians, even if it consists of a settlement freeze for just "a few months."
"I wouldn’t be surprised if within one year the whole world supports a Palestinian state, including the United States. Then we’ll ask where we were and what we were doing," the senior official said.
The warning comes a day after Ecuador joined four other South American countries to formally recognize Palestine as a free and independent state with 1967 borders.
Earlier this month, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay had done the same.
Israel has protested the recent recognitions, claiming that the move is against the spirit of the Mideast talks.
Tel Aviv accuses the Latin American nations of ignoring the 2003 Middle East roadmap for peace, which says that a Palestinian state could be established through dialogue, but not through unilateral measures.
On December 15, the US House of Representatives followed Israel’s suit in denouncing the action and unanimously approved a resolution opposing unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.
The resolution urged the White House to "deny recognition to any unilaterally declared Palestinian state and veto any resolution by the United Nations Security Council to establish or recognize a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated by the two parties."
This is while the international community widely backs Palestinian demands for a state in most of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem) — all territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.
The recent developments come nearly three months after Tel Aviv announced that it would not halt its plan for constructing over 1,300 new settler units in East al-Quds and a further 800 units in the northern occupied West Bank.
The resumption of the illegal construction work put a halt to direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which began in early September after a 20-month break.
The Palestinians say that the settlement activities are being carried out to prevent the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East al-Quds as its future capital.