France to recognize Palestinian state if peace talks fail

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 28, 2014 6:21 AM

By John Irish

PARIS (Reuters) - France warned on Friday it would recognize a Palestinian state if an international effort to overcome the impasse between Israelis and Palestinians failed, and proposed a two-year timeframe to end the conflict through a U.N.-backed resolution.

Lawmakers will hold a symbolic parliamentary vote on Dec. 2 on whether the French government should recognize Palestine as a state, a move that the Israeli Prime Minister has called a "grave mistake". But that would not mark a toplevel change in French policy.

"If this final effort to reach a negotiated solution fails, then France will have to do what it takes by recognizing without delay the Palestinian state. We are ready," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told parliament.

The parliamentary vote has raised domestic political pressure for the government to be more active on the issue. An IFOP poll showed 63 pct of French support a Palestinian state.

Fabius told deputies that, were they to adopt the motion, it would not change Paris' immediate diplomatic stance.

But he said that after similar moves in Sweden, Britain, Ireland and Spain, Paris could not ignore the "never-ending" conflict that was playing into extremists' hands.

"There needs to be support, some would say pressure from the international community to help the two sides to make the final step to peace," Fabius said.

Palestinians seek statehood in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and blockaded Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as their capital - lands captured by Israel in a 1967 war.

The latest round of efforts to forge a two-state solution collapsed in April. Palestinians see little choice but to push unilaterally for statehood.

Fabius said France was working with partners to get a United Nations Security Council resolution adopted that would relaunch and conclude negotiations within two years.

"The objectives are ... to create detailed parameters to resolve the conflict that would be adopted by the international community and set the basis of future negotiations. We must fix a calendar because without one how do you convince anybody that it won't just be another process?" Fabius said.

Fabius proposed that in parallel to the resolution a conference be held with regional actors, European Union, Arab League and major powers.

France does not classify Palestine as a state, but has supported Palestine's membership of UNESCO and its non-member observer country status at the U.N.

(Reporting By John Irish; editing by Mark John and Ralph Boulton)