France: We won’t support Palestinian UN membership bid

Failure to secure required nine Security Council votes would be ‘slap in the face’ to PA, says Israeli official.

November 5, 2011 22:47
3 minute read.
The United Nations Security Council [file]

UN Security Council_311. (photo credit: Reuters)


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Israel’s efforts to thwart a Palestinian drive for unilateral statehood at the UN was buoyed on Saturday when France announced that it won’t support the measure.

France is one of 15 nations that sit on the Security Council, which is debating the Palestinian request for UN membership.

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On Friday, France informed a Security Council subcommittee that it plans to abstain when a vote is called on the matter. It is the second country, after the US, to issue a formal statement on the vote.

The subcommittee is expected to submit a report on the Palestinian statehood request to the UN Security Council on Friday.

Since the Palestinians need the support of nine Security Council members for their request to be approved, an abstention is the equivalent of a vote against the Palestinian bid.

Israel assumes that Germany, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Columbia have told the Security Council that they will oppose the membership application, mostly likely in the form of an abstention.

The US plans to oppose the measure.

Brazil, India, Lebanon, South Africa, Russia and China are expected to support the Palestinians. The position of Nigeria, Gabon, Bosnia and Herzegovina are unclear.

Should all nine of those countries support the Palestinians, the US – one of five Security Council members with veto power – has promised to use that veto to squash the measure.

But Palestinians have pressed forward, despite the US-veto threat, in the hope that a strong show of support would stand as one more sign that they had the backing of the international community for unilateral recognition of statehood without a treaty with Israel, even if they failed to attain UN membership.

There is no doubt about the legitimacy of the Palestinian aspiration for statehood, France said in a statement put out Saturday by its Foreign Ministry.

But because of the US veto, it has no hope of attaining it at this time.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy already told the UN General Assembly on September 21 that the Palestinian bid for unilateral statehood at this time could lead to conflict and stagnation, the ministry said.

A wiser course would be for the Palestinian Authority to pursue an upgrade in its status at the UN, the ministry said. It was for this reason, the Foreign Ministry said, that it voted in support of a decision last week by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Committee (UNESCO) to accept “Palestine” as its 195th member.

France is committed to a comprehensive peace agreement, the ministry said. It called on both Israel and the Palestinian to resume negotiations, which have been stalled for over a year.

The Palestinians have refused to negotiate with Israel until it freezes settlements activity in the West Bank and Jewish construction in east Jerusalem. Israel has called on the Palestinians to negotiate without preconditions.

Israel had no formal response to France’s statement.

An Israeli official noted, however, that it would a significant blow to the Palestinians’ drive for unilateral statehood if they failed to secure the support of nine Security Council members necessary for their UN membership bid to pass.

It would be a “diplomatic slap in the face” to the Palestinians, the official said.

The French statement showed that Israel was not as diplomatically isolated as people thought, he said.

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