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Middle east

Israeli relations with France ‘excellent’ despite UN vote

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2012-12-01

Israeli Ambassador to Paris Yossi Gal told FRANCE 24 on Friday that France’s support for Palestine to be recognised as a non-member state at the UN would not undermine the “excellent” relations between the two countries.

Diplomatic relations between Israel and France remain “excellent”, despite France’s vote at the United Nations General Assembly to recognise Palestine as a non-member state, the Israeli ambassador to Paris told FRANCE 24 on Friday.

Yossi Gal said that the “not unexpected” move by France the day before had in no way damaged ties between the two countries, pointing out that the French leadership had repeated Israeli pleas for the Palestinians to resume peace talks.

“Despite the vote, France has stressed once again that the Palestinians need to get back to the negotiating table, which is what Israel wants,” he said.

“The French vote will not undermine our relations, which are strong, as demonstrated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent visit to France to remember the victims of the Toulouse shootings.”  

But the ambassador deflected questions on how the vote, in which most EU members either abstained or supported the Palestinian bid, would affect relations between Israel and traditionally friendly European countries.

He said: “We hope that we will be able to work, with those responsible members of the international community, to impress on the Palestinians that what needs to be done is to put everything aside and go to the negotiating table without any preconditions.

“That is the only thing that can lead us to peace, not unilateral actions like going to the UN.”

On Thursday, 138 members of the United Nations General Assembly, of a total 193, voted in support of Palestine being recognised as a non-member state.

Forty-one countries abstained. Only nine members – the USA, Canada, the Czech Republic (one of Israel's staunchest allies), Panama and several Pacific Island nations which traditionally follow the US lead at the UN – voted against.

Gal repeated Netanyahu’s condemnation of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’s speech to the General Assembly.

“His speech was one of incitement, and not the words of someone who genuinely wants peace,” he said.

Asked how Israel would respond to the vote, Gal said Israel would “think very carefully about what to do, but at the same time not lose hope that they will one day come back to their senses and sit down with us to really negotiate peace.”

On Friday, Netanyahu announced that Israel is to build 3,000 new settler homes in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank in response to the Palestinian success at the UN.

Date created : 2012-11-30

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