France would recognize a Palestinian state if its plans to make a final push for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine fail. Peace talks collapsed in April 2014.
Speaking in Paris, French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius (photo with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) said that as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, France had a responsibility to continue efforts to find a solution between Israel and the Palestinian territories.
"In the coming weeks, France will take... steps in order to organize an international conference gathering each of the parties' main partners, principally Americans, Europeans and Arabs, in order to preserve and to bring about the two-state solution," he said.
"And what will happen if this last-ditch attempt at reaching a negotiated solution hits a stumbling block?" he said. "In that case, we will have to live up to our responsibilities and recognize a Palestinian state."
"We must not allow the two-state solution to fall apart," Fabius told diplomats in Paris on Friday.
The spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rdainah, said he welcomed the move: "There is no doubt that a French recognition of the Palestinian state will contribute to building peace and stability in the region."
Earlier this week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described Israel's settlements as "provocative acts" calling into question the Israeli government's commitment to a two-party state. Palestine has non-member observer status at the United Nations.
Sweden recognized the Palestinian state in 2014 and has since been followed by other EU members.
In November 2014 the French parliament backed a motion urging the government to recognize Palestine as a state as a way of achieving a "definitive resolution of the conflict."
Palestinians are seeking a state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Parts of the territories have been occupied by Israel since a war in 1967.
jm/bw (AFP, Reuters)