Officials in the Palestinian Authority claimed on Sunday that Paraguay is set to join a number of South American nations who recently supported a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. According to the reports, Paraguay plans to recognize an independent Palestinian state next year.

A statement released by the PA’s Foreign Ministry which was quoted in the PA-based Ma’an News Agency, said that Paraguay's Foreign Minister Hector Lacognata gave a spring 2011 deadline for the country's recognition of a Palestinian state on the so-called 1967 borders, lands which were occupied by Jordan between 1948 and 1967. Lacognata made the announcement to the Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to Paraguay.

If Paraguay indeed announces its recognition of a Palestinian state, it would be joining other South American nations who have already done so or have expressed their willingness to do so.

Argentina announced earlier this month that it recognizes “a free and independent Palestinian state within its 1967 borders.” Argentina reportedly said it decided to make the announcement due to frustration at the slow progress of peace talks with Israel.

Several days before Argentina, Brazil announced that it recognizes the Palestinian Authority as a new independent Arab country. The announcement was criticized by both Israel and the United States, with Israel expressing “regret and disappointment” with the decision and pointing out that “recognition of a Palestinian state is a violation of the Interim Agreement signed between Israel and the PA in 1995,” a reference to the amended Oslo Accords.

Uruguay has also recently announced that it will recognize a Palestinian Authority state next year. “Uruguay will surely follow the same path as Argentina in 2011,” Deputy foreign minister Roberto Conde told AFP. “We are working towards opening a diplomatic representation in Palestine, most likely in Ramallah.”

The European Union has also reaffirmed its readiness to recognize a Palestinian state at an “appropriate” time, but did not recognize one outright, choosing instead to express “regret” at Israel's rejection of a new construction freeze on Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria, describing the communities in Judea and Samaria as “illegal” and as an “obstacle to peace.”