French Parliament debates recognizing Palestine

AP News
Posted: Nov 28, 2014 1:09 PM
French Parliament debates recognizing Palestine

PARIS (AP) — France's government is pushing to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, amid growing pressure across Europe for recognition of a Palestinian state after decades of Mideast stalemate.

France's lower house of Parliament on Friday debated a measure urging the government to recognize an independent Palestine. The Socialist government supports the idea of two states, but argues that it's too early for outright recognition.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France is working at the United Nations for a resolution to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations — and to set a two-year deadline for success.

"France will recognize a Palestinian state," Fabius told the lawmakers, but the question is "when, and how."

France — which has western Europe's largest Muslim and Jewish populations, and has seen tensions erupt between them — has sought to keep good ties with Israeli and Palestinian authorities in recent years. "Our only enemies in this region are the extremists," Fabius said.

Israel's ambassador to France, Yossi Gal, told The Associated Press the French parliamentary initiative, like any unilateral effort, was destructive for the peace effort.

"I really hope that everybody will come back to their senses and see how bad this resolution is for everybody concerned," Gal said.

Lawmakers will vote on the resolution on Tuesday, and top Palestinian diplomat to France, Hael Al Fahoum, expressed hope it would pass.

The measure urges the government "to recognize the state of Palestine in view of reaching a definitive settlement to the conflict."

Many in Europe are frustrated with the deadlock in peace talks, and with the Israeli government's actions in Gaza and in supporting the growth of Jewish settlements.

On Oct. 30, Sweden's government became the first Western European nation in the EU to recognize Palestinian statehood. Since then, lawmakers in Britain, Spain and Ireland have approved non-binding motions urging recognition, and the European Parliament debated the issue this week.