Thailand recognises Palestine statehood: Bold, courageous, historic-Bangkok Post

February 7, 2012

Thai support for Palestine welcomed

Decision called bold, courageous, historic

Achara Ashayagachat and Thanida Tansubhapol

Bangkok Post: January 21, 2012


The Muslim community in Thailand and academics have welcomed the government’s decision to officially recognise the state of Palestine, saying it would make Thailand “a friend” in the eyes of the Muslim world.

Thailand announced on Thursday it had recognised a Palestinian state, a move hailed by Palestinian leaders eager to boost their international standing amid a stalemate with Israel.

Thailand has “officially recognised the state of Palestine and officially informed all permanent and observer missions to the United Nations in New York of this development”, a press officer for Thailand’s mission said.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s (PSC) Thailand chairman Stuart Ward said when PSC Thailand conducted a poll on the issue of the government supporting Palestine’s bid for full membership of the UN at the end of last year, it knew the country wanted to do the right thing and put itself on the side of justice.

By recognising the state of Palestine, Thailand is doing just that. Thailand has a very special role in the world and commands a lot of respect. Its recognition of Palestine therefore carries greater weight than many other countries.

“We welcome this move and express our appreciation to the government of Thailand in making this bold and courageous decision. Thailand has shown beyond a shadow of doubt that it is to be counted amongst the forces prepared to stand up against injustice,” he said.

“By adding its voice to the growing number of nations recognising the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to statehood and to the human dignity that the rest of us take for granted, Thailand has very forcefully told the world that it stands firmly on the right side of history.”

Artef Sohko, coordinator for the Co-operation Centre of Student and Youth Organisations in Pattani/Southernmost Thailand, said it was a very welcome decision.

“This is beyond my expectations. The country made the decision even though it has a close relationship with Israel,” Mr Artef said.

“As a Muslim, from now I believe the Muslim people will see Thailand as their friend rather than just a tourist destination.”

Chaiwat Satha-Anand, a Thammasat University political science lecturer, said it was a welcome decision even though it was belated as Palestinians have suffered for decades.

He said it was the right decision to support this “historical moment” when a number of nations have also given the Palestinian state their support.

“This moment is a signal that the world community prefers fighting via political means rather than violence. Those who still engage in violence may have to think again,” he said.

Panitan Wattanayagorn, politics professor at Chulalongkorn University, also supported the decision, saying endorsement will be beneficial for the country as it will improve Thailand’s image as being neutral on the issue and supporting the peace process in the Middle East.

But Bangkok could still be pressured by the US and Israel, and that might be seen in the US’s decision not to lift a travel warning to Thailand, he said.

“But this is the peace process to lead to peace talks,” Prof Panitan said.

He said the problems in the South might not be affected so much by the endorsement of the state of Palestine. But it might add fuel to the issue of creating an independent state in the southern provinces by insurgent groups.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said although Thailand has endorsed an independent Palestinian state, the country still adheres to the two-state resolution with Israel, and still supports the Middle East peace process.

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