Latin America in Middle East Intrigue – Mahmoud Abbas in Santo Domingo: Fernandez appoints Palestine envoy with honours, as Israel & USA disappointed

President of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernandez, defended the right of the Palestinian National Authority to be recognized as a state by the United Nations. As reported in Listin Diario, Fernandez called for the Arab nations to unite so the Palestinians and Israelis can reach an understanding because world peace depends on this.

Fernandez awarded Abbas with the highest order of Duarte Sanchez and Mella, rank Great Gold Cross. Abbas then addressed members of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies on the Palestinian cause, followed by a speech at the Funglode auditorium.

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas started a three-country Latin American tour with a first 24-hour stopover in Santo Domingo last Friday, in a new attempt to harness support for his government’s bid to win a seat at the United Nations. Abbas then traveled for meetings in El Salvador and Colombia.

Abbas met with President Leonel Fernandez to address the quest for statehood, which he formally presented to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon late last month.

We don’t hesitate to recognize the legitimate right of Palestine to be recognized as a free, independent and sovereign state,” Fernandez said, underlining that his country also had “excellent diplomatic, commercial and cultural relations with Israel.”

Abbas described Fernandez as a defending lawyer of peace and justice, as reported by the Presidency. Abbas recognized the DR under Fernandez: “You’re not big militarily but you’re big in faith, peace and solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

The move for UN recognition is strongly opposed by both Israel and the United States, which say a Palestinian state can only emerge through bilateral negotiations.

Israeli Ambassador to the Dominican Republic - Moshe Sermoneta

Fernandez awarded Abbas with the highest order of Duarte Sanchez y Mella, rank Great Gold Cross. Abbas then addressed members of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies on the Palestinian cause, followed by a speech at the Funglode auditorium.

Abbas met with Middle Eastern community members in Santo Domingo, in an event organized by the Club Sirio-Libanes.

After his meeting at the Presidential Palace, Abbas traveled to La Romana to take a flight to El Salvador. Meanwhile – The Israeli ambassador to the Dominican Republic says that his government is “disappointed” over the Dominican Republic’s decision to support the Palestinian Authority in the process that its President, Mahmoud Abbas, is leading for Palestine to be recognized as a nation state in the United Nations. Ambassador Moshe Sermoneta said that Israel is in agreement that Palestine has the right to be recognized as a state, but this process should be followed through a direct dialogue and not by a decision of the United Nations.

Quoted in El Caribe, Sermoneta said that President Fernandez should have taken advantage of the PA President’s visit to raise the issues that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed with him during his visit to the Middle East.

Sermoneta acknowledged that Fernandez had stressed the need for peace but pointed out that he seemed to forget that Abbas has an alliance with Hamas, which rejects the recognition of Israel and is responsible for many deaths.

When he was asked what he thought about the fact that Fernandez had authorized the establishment of an embassy in Santo Domingo, he remarked that the Palestinian territory is not a state, and “if I remember correctly, only states have the right to open Embassies in other countries.”

Sermoneta also questioned the timing of the visit, since it fell on the anniversary of the Yom Kippur War and the assassination of Anwar Sadat, two major events in recent Middle Eastern history.

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