French lawmakers voted on Tuesday in favour of recognising Palestine as a state, following similar moves in Britain and Spain as European countries try to restart the stalled Middle East peace process.
The highly symbolic vote in the lower house National Assembly is not binding on French government policy but is likely to spark fury in Israel, whose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned it would be a “grave mistake.”
MPs voted 339 to 151 in favour of a motion that invites Paris to recognise the state of Palestine “as an instrument to gain a definitive resolution of the conflict.”
Palestinians are seeking to achieve statehood in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank with east Jerusalem as the capital. With little progress on reaching a settlement, they have been lobbying foreign powers for international recognition.
During a debate on the issue Friday, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius stressed that Paris would recognise Palestine if diplomatic efforts failed again and urged a resolution to the Middle East conflict within two years.
France is spearheading a drive at the United Nations to unfreeze the moribund peace process and the Palestinian envoy to the UN said earlier Tuesday a draft resolution could be submitted to the Security Council by mid-December.
Riyad Mansour told AFP the text was set to lay out a timeframe for negotiations on a final peace deal and possibly a deadline for Palestinian statehood.
It would also pave the way for a last-ditch international conference that France has offered to host.
This European initiative was expected to be discussed in Brussels when US Secretary of State John Kerry holds talks with European ministers during a NATO meeting.
“If these efforts fail. If this last attempt at a negotiated settlement does not work, then France will have to do its duty and recognise the state of Palestine without delay and we are ready to do that,” Fabius told MPs on Friday…. see more
source: ahram online