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French lawmakers set for Palestinian recognition vote

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French lawmakers were due to vote on a highly symbolic motion Tuesday urging the government to recognise Palestine as a state as frustration grows in Europe over the stalled Middle East peace process.

The motion is expected to sail through the lower house and while it is non-binding, Paris has in the past already made known that it plans to recognise a Palestinian nation “when the time comes”, arguing that a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict logically implies recognition of Palestine.

As such, the vote will likely anger Israel — coming as it does after a similar resolution was approved by British lawmakers on October 13 and Spanish MPs on November 18, and after Sweden’s formal recognition of Palestine as a state on October 30.

The text introduced by the ruling Socialists “invites the French government to use the recognition of the state of Palestine as an instrument to gain a definitive resolution of the conflict”.

Last week, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told MPs the United Nations Security Council was working on a resolution to relaunch and conclude peace talks.

“A deadline of two years is the one most often mentioned and the French government can agree with this figure,” he said.

Fabius also said France was prepared to host international talks to drive the peace bid forward.

“An international conference could be organised — 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 resolution of the conflict,” he said.

“If these efforts fail. If this last attempt at a negotiated settlement does not work, then France will have to do its duty and recognise the state of Palestine without delay and we are ready to do that,” stressed Fabius, without fixing a deadline for such a recognition.

In a recent interview with AFP, he had also said that France would “obviously at a certain moment recognise the Palestinian state”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned France that this would be a “grave mistake.”

“Do they have nothing better to do at a time of beheadings across the Middle East, including that of a French citizen?” he told reporters in Jerusalem last month, referring to hiker Herve Gourdel who was executed by his rebel captors in Algeria in September.

But the Socialist MP who has drafted the motion, Elisabeth Guigou, has said it is “a message of peace and friendship addressed to the two peoples, Israeli and Palestinian.” SAPA

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