RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Palestinians have 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 of a peace deal with Israel.
Peace talks with Israel have been deadlocked since September, leaving Palestinians to seek 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 Thursday 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 — in the 1967 war and withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
Saeb Erekat, another Palestinian negotiator, sent a similar request to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton this week.
"It's time for the countries around the world who haven't recognized the Palestinian state on the borders of 1967 with east Jerusalem as a capital to do so if they want to preserve the two-state solution," wrote Erekat.
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.
There was no immediate comment from individual European countries on the Palestinian request, though an EU statement this week said the EU will recognize a Palestinian state "when appropriate," implying that this would come after a peace deal with Israel.
Israel has criticized such moves as undermining negotiations.
© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.