Britain is reported to be looking into upgrading the status of the Palestinian Authority (PA) delegation in London to that of an official diplomatic mission, effectively putting it on a par with those of sovereign states.
The report in the IsraeliYnet news portal has increased fears in Israel that European countries will recognize Palestine as an independent state outside the framework of an Israeli-Palestinian final status peace agreement.
The Irish Independent newspaper confirmed that the British foreign office is in the process of studying a proposal to upgrade the status of the PA's delegation. This development is at odds with the perception of the Conservative government in Britain as being pro-Israeli.
In the aftermath of the most recent failure of peace talks, the PA is seeking to garner support for unilaterally declaring Palestinian independence. South America started the trend with Brazil announcing its recognition of Palestine within the pre-1967 borders. Since its declaration, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia and Uruguay have followed suit.
Should European Union members join the bubbling of recognition, the PA could seek the UN's backing for a unilateral declaration of Palestinian independence if Israel does not meet all its demands.
Until the British revelation, France was the only western nation to announce it was considering recognizing the Palestinian state.
In an interview with the London based al Shark Al Awsat newspaper, Palestinian National Authority Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad al-Maliki said that "we have discussed this issue with the foreign ministries of these countries, who have promised to look into it, despite arguing in the past that there were legal obstacles preventing it. We explained to them that the Palestinian situation has nothing to do with legal interpretations, but rather political ones."
This said, it is also worth mentioning that a change in status will remain largely symbolic, yet Israel has begun a full scale lobbying campaign to halt it in its tracks while officially dismissing the concept as going "against the very idea of peace."
Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry is quoted in Israel Today magazine as saying that “this is certainly not going to encourage the Palestinians to return to direct talks. This is really sending the wrong message, and I think Europe should be worried about the consequences of this action.