U.K. Will Not Recognize Unilateral Palestinian State, Official Says

Speaking during Jordan visit, Foreign Office official Alistair Burt says direct talks are the only way to reach a viable two-state solution.

A British Foreign Office minister said Thursday that only direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations can achieve peace, adding that the U.K would not recognize a unilaterally declared Palestinian state.

Alistair Burt AP 20.1.2011

Wrapping up a Mideast tour that included stops in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Alistair Burt said in Jordan on Thursday that Britain would not recognize a Palestinian state unless it emerged from a peace deal with Israel.

Speaking with the Palestinian Ma'an news agency, Burt said London could not "recognize a state that does not have a capital, and doesn’t have borders."

"We are looking forward to recognizing a Palestinian state at the end of the negotiations on settlements because our position is again very straightforward: We wish to see a two-state solution, a secure and recognized Israel side by side with a viable Palestine, Jerusalem as a joint capital and agreed borders," Burt said.

"That’s where we want to get to. When we get there, that of course will imply recognition of a state of Palestine," Burt told Ma'an.

Referring to the possibility of reviving defunct Middle East peace talks, Burt acknowledged that while direct talks that began in September and collapsed soon after might be difficult to revive now, negotiations were "most likely" to result in Palestinian statehood and guarantee Israel's security.

He said a unilateral Palestinian declaration would mean ambiguity on crucial issues like the capital of the state, its borders and the fate of refugees.

Burt's comments came as several countries announced their recognition of Palestinian statehood. Earlier this week

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday in Jericho that his country did not withdraw its 1988 recognition of a Palestinian state, but fell short of an new and unequivocal recognition of the state within the 1967 borders, similar to declarations made by a number of countries over the past two months.

Last week, Al Jazeera reported that, following Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile, Guyana became the seventh South American nation to recognize an independent Palestinian state.