French politicians vote in favour of recognising Palestine

French politicians vote in favour of recognising Palestine
French politicians have voted in favour of calling on the government to recognise Palestine, in a symbolic move that demonstrates growing European impatience with a stalled peace process.
3 min read
02 December, 2014
The vote will add momentum to Palestinian state recognition efforts [AFP

French politicians on Tuesday voted in favour of recognising a Palestinian state in a poll with high symbolic significance.

MPs voted 339 for and 151 against a motion that called on the French government to recognise the state of Palestine "as an instrument to gain a definitive resolution of the conflict".

While the vote is non-binding, Paris has already made it known that it plans to recognise a Palestinian nation "when the time comes", arguing that a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict logically implies recognition of Palestine.

The French vote adds to the momentum behind Palestinian efforts to secure global recognition of Palestinian statehood.

While most developing countries recognise Palestine as a state, most Western countries do not, supporting the Israeli and US position that an independent Palestinian state should emerge from negotiations with Israel.

However, several European nations have grown frustrated with Israel, which, since the collapse of the latest US-sponsored talks in April has launched a bloody and sustained onslaught on Gaza, and is pressing ahead with building and expanding illegal settlements.

The French vote will anger Israel, coming as it does after the government of Sweden recognised Palestine in October, and after British, Spanish and Irish politicians all backed non-binding resolutions supporting recognition.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has warned France that voting for the motion would be a "grave mistake".

International conference

Last week, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told MPs that the United Nations Security Council was working on a resolution to relaunch and conclude peace talks. Fabius also said France was prepared to host international talks to drive the peace bid forward.

"An international conference could be organised, France is prepared to take the initiative on this, and in these talks, recognition [of the Palestinian state] would be an instrument... for the definitive resolution of the conflict," he said.

The move came after a draft resolution circulated by the Palestinians, backed by the Arab League, calling for an end to the Israeli occupation by November 2016 was opposed by the US and other members of the UN security council.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the UN, said he expected a new draft to be submitted to the council "soon, possibly in the middle of the month", with a vote to quickly follow.

Speaking to parliament ahead of the vote, Fabius said that the government would not be bound by the vote, however, he asserted that the status quo was unacceptable and France would recognise an independent Palestinian state if diplomatic efforts come to naught.  

"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," stressed Fabius, without fixing a deadline for such a recognition.

The French government is facing, as are other adminstrations in Europe, rising domestic political pressure to recognise a Palestinian state. During the recent Israeli assault on Gaza, France witnessed mass demonstrations against Israeli aggression.

A recent poll showed that more than 60 percent of French people support a Palestinian state.