French MPs vote to recognize Palestine as a state | Middle East| News and analysis of events in the Arab world | DW | 02.12.2014
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Middle East

French MPs vote to recognize Palestine as a state

French lawmakers have voted to call on the government to recognize Palestine as a state. This is the latest in a series of efforts from European countries to push forward peace efforts between Israel and Palestine.

On Tuesday, French MPs voted 339 to 151 to recognize Palestine as a state.

This is a symbolic move that will not immediately affect France's diplomatic stance, but adds to increasing efforts from European countries to find new ways to push forward peace in the region.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had warned that the move would be a "grave mistake."

The text of the motion invites Paris to recognize the state of Palestine "as an instrument to gain a definitive resolution of the conflict."

Palestinians are seeking to achieve statehood in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, with east Jerusalem as the capital. Since US-sponsored talks collapsed in April, Israel has continued to build settlements on land the Palestinians want for their state.

The French vote follows similar moves from lawmakers in Britain, Ireland and Spain, in recent months, while Sweden voted to formally recognize Palestine as a state on October 3.

The European Parliament also considered officially recognizing Palestine in a debate that took place in November, but a vote has been pushed back until later this month owing to divisions within the EU.

Germany, Israel's closest ally in Europe, opposes recognizing Palestinian statehood before Israel does. In 2012, Germany abstained from a similar vote in the European Parliament.

In November, the Arab League backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' plan to seek international approval for a state at the UN Security Council.

While most developing countries recognize Palestine as a state, most West European countries support the Israeli and US position that an independent Palestinian state would have to be established in negotiation with Israel.

French society split

The motion is a sensitive issue in France, home to Europe's largest Jewish and Muslim communities.

Earlier this year, several pro-Palestine demonstrations took place in France in protest against the offensive by the Israeli army in Gaza.

In July, some of these protests led to violence and anti-Semitic attacks in Paris.

According to the Jewish Agency for Israel, an advocacy group, in 2014 more Jews left France than any other country in order to migrate to Israel because of a "climate of anti-Semitism."

Right-wing politicians were skeptical of the motion recognizing Palestine, suggesting that the Socialist government is using it to win back support from Muslim voters, who were dismayed by Francois Hollande's apparent support for Israel's intervention in Gaza earlier this year.

France is backing the UN's two-year time frame to relaunch and conclude negations between Israelis and Palestinians.

lvw/mkg (AFP, AP)

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