Abbas Arrives in El Salvador in Bid to Gain Support for Palestinian Statehood

Palestinian President to meet El Salvador officials following visit to Dominican Republic and ahead of trip to UN Security Council member Colombia.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in El Salvador on Sunday, in the latest stop of his Latin American tour geared at amassing support ahead of a United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood, the AFP news agency reported.

Abbas' arrival in El Salvador comes following a two-day visit to the Dominican Republic, where the Palestinian Authority president discussed Palestinian plans for statehood with President Leonel Fernandez.

Abbas - Reuters - October 1, 2011

In a statement quoted by the official PA news agency WAFA, Abbas told his Dominican counterpart that most of the countries that have already recognized Palestinian independence did so because they believe it was essential for peace and stability in the Mideast.

Speaking after awarding Abbas with the Dominican Republic's highest and principal honor, president Fernandez said he hoped "to achieve peace and security among Israelis and Palestinians,” adding that “recognizing the statehood of Palestine would help bring about lasting peace in the Middle East and ease concerns in the entire Arab community.”

Ahead of Abbas' planned session in El Salvador, Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez told AFP that, while the South American country had already recognized Palestinian independence in the past, it would "listen to President Abbas's point of view," before "staking out any position."

The Palestinian president's push in South American, due to continue with Colombia later this week, comes following a Palestinian bid for full UN membership, a move which requires the PA to gain a majority in both the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council, where Colombia holds a non-permanent seat.

Late last month, a Palestinian official speaking with Haaretz said that "within the Security Council there are nine nations who had already recognized a Palestinian state, so the Palestinians expect those countries to support the [UN] proposal too."

"And yet," the official added, "pressure is being exerted on Colombia through states such as Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, as well as pressure from the other side being exerted by Russia and the Arab States on Bosnia."

Haaretz has also learned that the Arab states have been pressuring Bosnia by threatening not to support a recognition of Kosovo's independence if Bosnia failed to back the Palestinian bid at the UNSC.

Bosnia and Colombia are both temporary members of the UNSC, making them crucial in the Palestinian bid to gain full recognition as an independent state in the Security Council.

Currently, the 15-member UN Security Council is reviewing the issue. The U.S. has already said it would veto the request should the Palestinians muster the required nine votes.