abbas - AP - November 11 2010
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks at a rally marking the anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat, November 11, 2010. Photo by AP
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Israel's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday condemned as "highly regrettable" Argentina's announcement of the previous day that it recognized Palestine as "a free and independent state" within its borders prior to the 1967 Six-Day War.

The decision was highly "damaging," foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, "because they are in fact shattering the foundation of the peace process."

The recognition while peace negotiations are ongoing and no final peace deal has yet been reached "is contrary to the existing legal framework of the peace process," he added.

That legal framework states that a permanent and definitive solution to the conflict, including the establishment of a Palestinian state, can only be the outcome of negotiations and mutually agreed solutions, he argued.

He added the Argentine declaration did not affect the real situation on the ground, nor did it help the Palestinians because it did nothing to promote Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation.

"We have embassies and we have made our opinions known to the local authorities through our diplomats," the Foreign Ministry official told the German Press-Agency dpa.

Monday's announcement by the Argentine government followed Brazil's Friday declaration of recognition.

The move came in response to a request for recognition by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in late November. Abbas visited both Brazil and Argentina last year.

Uruguay reportedly shares the policy line of its two larger neighbors, although it has not made a statement on the issue so far.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner wrote to Abbas Monday to inform him of her government's decision to recognize "Palestine as a free and independent state within the borders that existed in 1967, and in accordance with what the parties decide in the course of the negotiation process."