France has warned that if the international community fails to resolve the Middle East impasse, it would recognize Palestine as a state. French lawmakers are set to hold a vote on Palestine nationhood on December 2.
Ignoring Israeli condemnation of the planned non-binding vote, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told parliament on Friday his country would "do what it takes by recognizing without delay the Palestinian state" and urged the global community to speed up its efforts to resolve the protracted conflict.
"At the United Nations, we are working with our partners to adopt a Security Council resolution to relaunch and conclude talks. A deadline of two years is the one most often mentioned and the French government can agree with this," Laurent told the French parliament.
"An international conference could be organized. France is prepared to take the initiative on this and in these talks, recognition (of the Palestinian state) would be an instrument … for the definitive solution to the conflict," he said, adding that Paris hoped that all main players in the conflict - including the European Union, the Arab League and all permanent members of the UN Security Council - would come together to find a solution to the Middle East crisis.
"If these efforts fail, if this last attempt at a negotiated settlement does not work, then France will have to do its duty and recognize the state of Palestine," stressed the French foreign minister.
Ahead of the vote, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it would be a "grave mistake" by France to recognize Palestine.
"Do they have nothing better to do at a time of beheadings across the Middle East, including that of a French citizen?" Netanyahu told reporters on November 23.
Support for the Palestinian state
Earlier on Friday, the French parliamentarians debated the December 2 vote. A similar resolution was approved by British lawmakers on October 3, by the Spanish parliament on November 18, and Sweden formally recognized the state of Palestine on October 3.
A poll conducted by IFOP (French Institute of Public Opinion) showed 63 percent of the French population in favor of an independent Palestinian state.
Palestinians seek statehood in the lands captured by Israeli in a war in 1967 - the occupied West Bank and blockaded Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as the capital. The Palestinian leadership is planning to submit to the Security Council a draft resolution calling for a complete Israeli withdrawal from all conquered territory in 2016.
shs/sb (Reuters, AFP)