France to recognise Palestine if talks fail

Foreign minister sets two-year deadline to break impasse as MPs debate motion to recognise Palestine.

    France to recognise Palestine if talks fail
    Hollande wants to host an international conference 'to find a solution' to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict [Reuters]

    France has warned that it would recognise a Palestinian state if a final international effort to overcome the impasse between Israelis and Palestinians failed, and proposed a two-year timeframe to end the conflict through a UN-backed resolution.

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

    His statement came as French politicians debated a motion urging the government to recognise Palestine as an independent state, amid growing European frustration at the paralysed Middle East peace process.

    The symbolic motion, being discussed on Friday, is expected to pass comfortably on December 2 when the lower house of parliament votes on the text proposed by the ruling Socialists.

    The vote comes hot on the heels of a similar resolution approved by British legislators on October 13, Spanish MPs on November 18 and the formal recognition by Sweden on October 30.

    The text "invites the French government to use the recognition of the state of Palestine as an instrument to gain a definitive resolution of the conflict".

    Hael al-Fahoum, head of the Palestinian Mission in France, attended the debate on Friday.

    The Socialist MP who drafted the text, Elisabeth Guigou, told AFP the aim was to "reaffirm that the two-state solution is the best guarantee for peace".

    "If we do not act now, there is a risk of entering into an irreversible cycle of violence and transforming this territorial conflict into a regional conflict," Guigou said.

    Israeli warning

    In advance of the vote, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, warned France it would be making a "grave mistake" if it recognised Palestine as a state.

    "Do they have nothing better to do at a time of beheadings across the Middle East, including that of a French citizen?" he said in Jerusalem on November 23, referring to Herve Gourdel, a hiker, who was executed by his captors in Algeria in September.

    "Recognition of a Palestinian state by France would be a grave mistake."

    On the eve of the parliamentary debate, President Francois Hollande told French media he wanted to host an international conference "to find a solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    He did not say when such a gathering might take place or who would be invited.

    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.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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