Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas laid the first stone Friday of what will become a Palestinian embassy in Brazil, the most important Latin American country to recognize a sovereign Palestinian state.
The symbolic act underlined a general movement in South America to recognize Palestine as a country, despite sharp criticism from Israel and US lawmakers.
Argentine, Bolivia and Ecuador have followed Brazil’s decision, made early December, to formally acknowledge a Palestinian state based on the borders which existed before the 1967 Six-Day War.
Uruguay has said it will do likewise early in 2011. Other Latin American countries, including Cuba, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Venezuela, recognized Palestinian statehood several years ago.
Abbas carried out the ceremony in Brazil’s capital under a light rain, posing the stone in ground donated by the Brazilian government in the same district as other diplomatic missions.
Doves were released during the act to represent peace, though one of the birds provoked laughter when it perched on Abbas’ head.
Following the ceremony, Abbas was to meet outgoing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, to thank him for the recognition of Palestinian statehood.
On Saturday, the Palestinian leader was to attend the inauguration of Lula’s elected successor, Dilma Rousseff.
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