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Middle east

France to support Palestinian UN status bid

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-11-28

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Tuesday that France will vote in favour of the Palestinian Authority's bid for Palestine to be granted UN "non-member observer status" at the General Assembly later this week.

France said on Tuesday it would vote in favour of Palestinian "non-member observer" status at the United Nations, boosting Palestinian efforts to secure greater international recognition.

Support from Spain, UK hesitates

Spain’s foreign minister says Spain will vote in favor of recognition of a Palestinian state at the U.N. General Assembly this week. Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo told parliament Wednesday that Spain would support the Palestinian bid at the U.N. because it feels it is the best way to advance toward peace.

Hesitation is coming from the United Kingdom ahead of the vote, says FRANCE 24’s US correspondent Nathan King, reporting from the UN Headquarters. “They are saying maybe they would vote but they have some conditions. They’re worried about certain Palestinian positions.”

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the country's National Assembly that Paris would vote "yes" in this week’s vote on a call for "non-member observer state status" for the Palestinians. Even with non-member status, however, a Palestinian state would still not be a full member of the UN General Assembly.

Fabius told MPs, "We've known for years France's constant position is to recognise the Palestinian state.”

Popular move in French Parliament

The foreign minister's statement was greeted by a round of applause in France’s lower house, the National Assembly.

France, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, is the first major European power to voice its approval of the Palestinian move.

Under former President Nicolas Sarkozy, France had promised to support the Palestinian quest for upgraded status. Paris also broke with its closest allies last year when it voted in favour of giving the Palestinians full membership of the UN’s cultural agency UNESCO. However, shortly after the UNESCO vote, France announced that it would abstain in a vote on a Palestinian request for full membership status of the United Nations, citing US opposition to the resolution.

The proposal for non-member observer status would, however, implicitly recognise Palestinian statehood. It could also grant it access to bodies such as the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where the Palestinians could file complaints against Israel.

Abbas “confident”

A 'moral victory'

The leader of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday that he was "confident" ahead of the new application.

"We are going to the UN fully confident in our steps. We will have our rights because you are with us," he told a crowd of around 1,000 people demonstrating in support of the bid.

"We ask for a just peace, which is agreed on by the international community which will give us our state with east Jerusalem as its capital. Without that, there is no hope at all," he said.

Abbas said the attempt to secure upgraded status was backed by many UN member states and by all the Palestinian political factions.

French position 'not a surprise'

Israel and Washington both oppose the new bid for enhanced UN status for the Palestinians, but the bid is expected to easily win the required majority at the General Assembly.

FRANCE 24’s US correspondent Nathan King called France’s support of the bid a “moral victory” for Palestine. Reporting from the UN Headquarters in New York, he said, “Palestine will be very, very buoyed by the fact that France took the lead in the last 24 hours and that several have followed…It will show the isolation of Israel and the United States.”

FRANCE 24’s International Affairs Editor Douglas Herbert said, “This is a move that is going to anger the US and it is going to anger Israel. It definitely puts France very firmly on the side of Abbas at a time when he was looking for a strong voice of support from a Western power.”

Europe is divided over the issue. Switzerland and Portugal have said they will vote for the measure, but Germany is among the countries that are opposed to the Palestinian Territories bid. Britain’s position remains unclear with its UN ambassador Mark Lyall Grant saying on Tuesday that Britain would decide “in due time” how to vote on this week’s resolution.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2012-11-27

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