RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinians on Thursday asked European countries to recognize an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip — a new step in the campaign to pursue statehood outside the framework of a peace deal with Israel.
Peace talks with Israel have been deadlocked since September, prompting Palestinians to start exploring alternative ways forward. The campaign by President Mahmoud Abbas and his West Bank government aims to pressure Israel, though it will likely change nothing on the ground as long as Israel remains opposed.
Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath said he asked France, Britain, Sweden and Denmark and the European Union envoy to the peace process to recognize the truce lines before the 1967 Mideast war as the borders between Israel and a Palestinian state.
Israel captured the Gaza Strip, West Bank and east Jerusalem — areas where the Palestinians want to establish an independent state — though it withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
Brazil and Argentina, minor players in the Middle East, recently recognized Palestine as other countries in the Arab world and Africa have done. Several European countries have upgraded diplomatic relations with the Palestinians. But it is unclear how far the international community will go.
The United States and the European Union have not recognized an independent Palestinian state, saying peace can only be reached through negotiations. Last week, European Union foreign ministers said they would recognize a Palestinian state "when appropriate," emphasizing the need for a negotiated settlement. They also said they regretted that Israel had not renewed a settlement freeze.