Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
is backing the push for Palestinian statehood
in a letter released Tuesday, saying the Palestinian people have a right to be recognized as a nation.
Chavez said in the letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN General Assembly that Venezuela supports "Palestine's right to become a free, sovereign and independent state."
"This represents an act of historic justice toward a people who carry with them, from time immemorial, all the pain and suffering of the world," Chavez wrote in the letter, dated September 17.
Chavez is in Cuba this week for cancer treatment and has said he will closely be following the UN debate on the Palestinian issue and also the conflict in Libya.
Chavez said "conflict resolution in the Middle East must, necessarily, bring justice to the Palestinian people."
He condemned what he called the "Palestinian genocide," blaming "Zionism" as well as the US role in the Middle East.
- For full coverage of PA's statehood bid, click here
"It is upsetting and painful that the same people who suffered one of the worst examples of genocide in history have become the executioners of the Palestinian people," Chavez said. "It is one thing to denounce anti-Semitism, and an entirely different thing to passively accept that Zionistic barbarism enforces an apartheid regime against the Palestinian people."
Chavez long has been critical of Israel's policies toward Palestinians. He severed ties with Israel in January 2009 to protest its military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Later that year, Palestinian officials opened a diplomatic mission in Venezuela, saying it would be a hub for diplomacy in South America.
Chavez concluded his letter saying "Palestine will live and overcome!"