Israel on Friday formally expressed its “deep disappointment” to France for voting on Tuesday for a Palestinian resolution at the UN Security Council calling for a full IDF withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines by the end of 2017.
The Foreign Ministry’s director-general for Western Europe, Aviv Shir On, called France’s Ambassador Patrick Maisonnave to the ministry in Jerusalem and said that the only way for progress to be made on the diplomatic track with the Palestinians was through direct negotiations and not through unilateral actions or declarations.
Maisonnave said that Paris believes there is a need to take action to move the sides back to the table, and for that reason supported the Palestinian resolution.
France was one of eight countries that supported the Palestinian bid in the Security Council, a bid that fell one-vote short of the nine necessary to pass, and which then would have triggered a US veto. The US and Australia voted against the measure, and five countries – Rwanda, Nigeria, South Korea, Britain and Lithuania – abstained.
Diplomatic officials said that there was little likelihood that France’s vote would damage Israeli-French ties, though Paris has lost some credibility with Israel’s leadership, something that could hurt its ambitions to play a leading role in the diplomatic process.
The officials pointed out that while France’s position on the Palestinian resolution was “problematic,” Paris has taken a very positive role from Israel’s standpoint in the negotiations that the P5+1 – the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – are conducting with Iran.
The decision to summon Maisonnave to Jerusalem to issue a formal protest articulated the surprise and frustration in Jerusalem at the French vote. France was also working on a resolution to bring to the Security Council that – though not to Israel’s liking – was more moderate in its language than the Palestinian resolution that was put forward.
Over the past two weeks there were efforts to “merge” the two resolutions, efforts that the Palestinians foiled by insisting on tougher language. When the Palestinians rejected the French proposal, Israel expected that the French would vote against the Palestinian one, and was surprised when they did not.