The quest for an independent Palestinian state in the Israeli-occupied territories took a major step forward with formal endorsements from China and Egypt, the only Arab state to make peace with Israel.
Jordan's King Hussein Sunday urged the United States to join more than 30 other countries in granting formal recognition to the fledging state, which was proclaimed last Tuesday in Algeria by the Palestine National Council.But the U.S. and Israeli governments rejected the proclamation, saying the Palestinian parliament-in-exile did not go far enough in issuing statements implicitly recognizing Israel's right to exist and renouncing terrorism.
Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin charged that Egypt had violated the spirit of the Camp David accords by recognizing an independent Palestinian state.
"I believe that Egypt has deviated from its commitment under the Camp David accords not to give a hand to any change of the legal political status of the territories by unilateral act," Rabin said. "The government of Israel will have to discuss how to cope with this problem."
Egypt's decision to grant recognition to the independent Palestinian state was announced after a rare meeting between Egyptian Foreign Minister Esmat Abdel-Meguid and Israeli Ambassador Shimon Shamir.
"The Arab Republic of Egypt, which was in the vanguard of powers that championed the rights of the Palestinian people, affirms its recognition of the independent Palestinian state in accordance with the principles contained in the political declaration issued by the PNC," the Egyptian government said in an official statement.
"Egypt, while blessing this constructive step, hopes that it will serve the cause of peace and stability in the region," the statement said.
In Beijing, a Foreign Ministry statement said: "The Chinese government, with full respect for the choice made by the Palestinian people, has decided to recognize the state of Palestine."
China has long supported Palestinian demands for a homeland and the efforts of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which maintains a mission in Beijing. Recently, however, China has started a quiet campaign to expand unofficial trade, cultural and military ties with Israel.
PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, in Baghdad, Iraq, expressed "great satisfaction and happiness" at the recognition by Egypt, which had initially endorsed the declaration, but stopped short of official acceptance.
In another development, Nepal welcomed the PNC declaration as a positive development that it hopes will lead to a durable solution in the Middle East, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday. But Nepal, which enjoys diplomatic relations with Israel, stopped short of formally recognizing the Palestinian state.