French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Jerusalem will be carefully following Tuesday’s non-binding vote in the French parliament on whether to recognize “Palestine,” wanting to see if there will be significant opposition inside the National Assembly to the move.
Similar symbolic resolutions were passed in recent weeks with massive majorities in the British, Irish, and Spanish parliaments.
This time, however, the vote may be a bit different, as former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who on Saturday was again elected leader of the center-right UMP party, came out squarely against the resolution last week.
Sarkozy was quoted as asking fellow UMP party members last week to vote against the resolution.
“I will fight for the Palestinians to have their state. But unilateral recognition a few days after a deadly attack and when there is no peace process? No!” he said, in reference to last month’s terrorist attack at a synagogue in the capital’s Har Nof neighborhood that killed five Israelis.
Sarkozy said that he would “not accept that the security of Israel be questioned.”
That, he said, “is the battle of my life.”
In a debate on the motion held on Friday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also stopped short of supporting the parliamentary motion, saying that the government wants to try other pathways to a negotiated settlement, including setting a time-line for a negotiated settlement in a UN Security Council resolution.
“At the United Nations, we are working with our partners to try to have a resolution adopted by the Security Council in order to relaunch the negotiations and to bring them to a conclusion,” Fabius said during a debate in the National Assembly on the matter on Friday. “A two-year time frame is often mentioned for that purpose. The French government agrees with this duration.”
This resolution is separate from the one the Palestinians intend to bring to the Security Council in the coming weeks.
Fabius said France is willing to recognize a Palestinian state if negotiations do not resume.
“If this final effort to reach a negotiated solution fails, then France will have to do what it takes by recognizing without delay the Palestinian state,” he said. “We are ready for this.
The current wave of parliamentary votes on the matter began shortly after the new Swedish government in October became the first major western European country to recognize “Palestine.”
Israel’s position is that these moves work against the diplomatic process, because they reinforce in the Palestinians a belief that, if they sit and wait long enough, then the world will impose a solution and “deliver” Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that the trend in European parliaments to support recognition is a “big mistake for peace.”
He said these steps – which are only symbolic and have no real substantive impact – encourage “the Palestinians to harden their positions, not to compromise on mutual recognition, not to compromise on the things that are needed to achieve genuine security.
I think these European positions actually push peace away, and I believe that they make reaching a solution much harder.”