France to support Palestinian State at United Nations

France and Palestine flags
France and Palestine flags

 

France, a permanent member of the UN security council, will be the first major European nation to back the move.

 

France has announced it will vote in support of a Palestinian State at the United Nations General Assembly this week.

Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, said France will vote for Palestinian “non-member status”, an upgrade that would allow the Palestinians participate in UN General Assembly debates and improve their chances of joining UN agencies and the International Criminal Court, ICC.

France has become, with the announcement, the first major European country to come out in favour of the move.

The timing of the announcement appears aimed at swaying other European nations, says the Associated Press.

The Palestinians are seeking an upgrade in their status from permanent observer to a “non-member observer state”.

Mr. Fabius told French lawmakers on Tuesday that France had long backed Palestinian ambitions for statehood and would vote yes “out of a concern for coherency”.

The vote is due to take place later this week.

“This Thursday or Friday, when the question is asked, France will vote yes,” Mr. Fabius is quoted as saying.

Israel and the United States strongly oppose the bid, accusing Palestine of trying to sidestep negotiations.

The resolution, likely to pass at the UN, would endorse a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, the territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war.

Israel opposed a pullback to the 1967 lines.

Unlike the Security Council, there are no vetoes in the General Assembly and the resolution is virtually certain of approval, the AP adds.

Palestinians say they are doing this out of frustration over the four-year deadlock in peace efforts. They believe an endorsement of their state will speed up negotiations.

Israel has warned that non-member status for the Palestinians at the United Nations would breach the 1993 Oslo peace accords, under which the Palestinian Authority was established.

The BBC quotes the Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Lior Ben Dor as saying earlier this month that Israel is concerned that if Palestine became a UN non-member state, it could ask the International Criminal Court, ICC, to resolve disputes with Israel.

If that were the case, he said, Israel would “take unilateral steps to protect its interests”, but did not elaborate on what those measures would be.