French parliament to vote on Palestinian state

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Posted: Nov 12, 2014 8:35 AM
French parliament to vote on Palestinian state

PARIS (AP) — France's National Assembly will vote this month on a largely symbolic resolution in favor of recognizing a Palestinian state, hoping it could help end the decades-long conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, officials said Wednesday.

Approval by the lower and more powerful chamber of parliament would send a signal to President Francois Hollande's Socialist government, which has the final say. Hollande supported "international recognition" of a Palestinian state on the campaign trail two years ago, and parliamentary leaders have recently consulted Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on the matter.

The National Assembly will vote on the resolution Nov. 28.

The Senate will vote on a similar one floated by the Communist Party on Dec. 11.

Government spokesman Stephane Le Foll suggested on Wednesday that even if parliament supports recognition of a Palestinian state, France would only act as part of a broad international effort to help end years of violence and conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

"The government's responsibility is not just to recognize a state — a Palestinian state. It's to make sure that it's recognized on an international scale," he told reporters. He cited a two-track approach: A debate in France's parliament on the matter, and a French diplomatic commitment to reach a resolution on the issue at the U.N. Security Council.

In an online briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal noted a recent "deterioration of the situation" in Jerusalem, Palestinian territories and Israel, saying France will "have to do what it takes" if peace negotiations don't resume or fail. He didn't elaborate.

Last month, British lawmakers voted in favor of a similar, symbolic vote, and Sweden became the biggest Western European country to outright recognize a Palestinian state — prompting a protest from Israel, which swiftly withdrew its ambassador from Stockholm.

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Jamey Keaten contributed to this report.