Palestinian allies moved rapidly to back the newly proclaimed independent Palestinian state today, but the superpowers and Europe waited cautiously and Israel declared diplomatic war on the initiative.
Only one day after Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat announced the statehood decision by the Palestinian parliament-in-exile, 22 nations had formally recognized the state. Most of those are Arab Middle East nations, but the list also includes Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh, Turkey, Madagascar and Nicaragua.
Amid the diplomatic moves, Arafat issued a somber warning on any widespread rejection.
“Our political statement contains moderation, flexibility and realism, which the West has been urging us to show. . . . If we are met with a rebuff, only God knows the outcome,” he said in a statement monitored in Nicosia, Cyprus.
“I can always come back to our PNC (Palestine National Council) and say that moderation does not pay.”
‘Image of Real Change’
In Jerusalem, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres summoned ministry officials to discuss how to prevent countries from recognizing the newly proclaimed independent Palestinian state.
“We have a problem trying to make our point of view clear, especially to the Western democracies. It is a difficult task because the PLO succeeded at transmitting an image of real change in its policies,” said ministry spokesman Motti Amichai.
Acting Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Yeshayahu Anug told Turkey’s top envoy in Jerusalem that Israel is disappointed that Ankara has become the first government having diplomatic ties with Israel to accept a Palestinian state.
Amichai, asked if Israel will consider severing ties with Turkey or any other country that recognized a Palestinian state, said:
“The issue was not raised. We found it necessary only to transmit to the Turkish government our disappointment and sorrow. At this moment this is the only thing we have to say on the subject.”
Egypt, the only Arab state to make peace with Israel, announced its support of the Palestinian proclamation, but Israeli officials were relieved that a Cairo government statement stopped short of explicit recognition.
The United States, welcoming a PLO vote implicitly recognizing Israel’s existence, said it could not support the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state although it promised to study the text of the Algiers statements.
The Soviet Union welcomed the PLO announcement but gave no indication of whether Moscow would recognize the state.
European nations welcomed the apparent shift in attitude toward Israel but hesitated in response to the declaration of a state. Britain termed the announcement premature. Belgium said it will not make Middle East peace talks any easier.
Israel reopened the occupied West Bank today, but nearly 900,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and major West Bank cities remained under curfew to prevent violence after the Palestinian declaration of statehood. Some Palestinian youths defied the curfew orders and hurled stones at soldiers. Two teen-agers were reported shot.