A Palestinian bears his flag during a protest against the controversial Israeli barrier in the West Bank village of Nilin 4 December 2009. (Reuters)
Chile has recognized Palestine as an independent state, Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno said Friday, following in the footsteps of several other Latin American countries.
"The government of Chile has adopted the resolution today recognizing the existence of the state of Palestine as a free, independent and sovereign state," he said, reading a foreign ministry declaration.
He added that Chilean President Sebastian Pinera would visit Israel and the Palestine on 4 and 5 March.
Late last year, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador recognized Palestine as an independent state. Uruguay has said it will follow suit in 2011.
The Chilean statement did not mention the borders of the Palestinian state, which its South American neighbors said were "within the 1967 borders."
Those were the boundaries that existed before Israel occupied the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in that year's Arab-Israeli war, known as the Six Day War.
Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Costa Rica had already previously recognized the Palestinian state.
The borders of a final borders of the Israeli state has been one of the thorniest issues in peace negotiations. Because it has been left borderless it has raised questions of a larger Zionist expansion.
Direct talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis, the first for nearly two years, began on 2 September but stalled after a 10-month Israeli settlement-building freeze expired three weeks later.
In a New Year's Eve address, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas urged the international community to come up with a new peace plan after US diplomacy failed to secure a fresh settlement freeze.
The Palestinians' current strategy seems to centre on a proclamation of statehood in September 2011, the end of the 12 months set as a target for the talks launched in Washington.
Israel is concerned over such plans and has reportedly ordered its own diplomats worldwide to mount a counter-offensive.
If the Palestinians lose this battle, they are considering calling for their land to be placed under international administration.