Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said this weekend that her country intends to spearhead the increased involvement of Latin American states in the Middle East peace process.
Kirchner announced the decision at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires, where she met delegates from the Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum. The delegation asked the president to assist in renewing Israeli-Palestinian talks in order to achieve a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines.
The delegates included Dr. Ron Pundak, former director general of the Peres Center for Peace; Dr. Meir Margalit, Jerusalem city council member (Meretz ); Nancy Sadiq, CEO of the Panorama organization in Ramallah; and Saman Khoury, cochairman of the Forum.
Khoury warned that if peace negotiations are not resumed, the region could fall into a crisis with serious global ramifications.
"In November 2011 the Peace NGO Forum sent an open letter to Latin-American governments requesting their intervention in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," the Forum said in a statement. "In view of the relationships of trust which both Israelis and Palestinians maintain with Latin-American governments - who enjoy an increasingly international status as an emerging economic power - the delegation members hold the conviction that Latin America can influence the parties to the conflict."
On Friday, the delegation met with Jewish and Arab community leaders and foreign ministry officials. This was the first time the representatives from Arab and Jewish communities had met since 2006's Second Lebanon War. The leaders expressed support for the Forum's initiative.
In 2010, Argentina and Uruguay announced that they intended to join Brazil in recognizing an independent Palestinian state, provoking sharp criticism from Israel. Other Latin American states that recognize a Palestinian state include Chile, Bolivia and Ecuador.
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