(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Israel is not concerned that France will recognize a Palestinian state now, even though former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner had broached the idea as early as January, Israeli diplomatic sources said Tuesday.
A cable from the US embassy in Paris release last week by WikiLeaks and
written in January prior to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s
visit to France, said that Kouchner had broached the idea with US Middle
East envoy George Mitchell.
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“The French agree with us on the need to help [PA] President [Mahmoud] Abbas return to the negotiating table by offering assistance programs, guarantees, and the support of Arab leaders,” the cable read. “However Kouchner also mentioned to SE [Special envoy] Mitchell the controversial idea of offering to recognize a Palestinian state now, with undefined borders, or offering to recognize a Palestinian state within a define timeline, regardless of the outcome of negotiations.”
Shortly after this cable was written, Kouchner spoke publicly about recognizing a Palestinian state before final borders were defined, an idea that French President Nicolas Sarkozy publicly stepped back from. The idea, according to Israeli diplomatic officials, was never accepted by the French government, and there is little concern that Paris will undertake the move now.
The official said it was unlikely that any of the EU countries would recognize a Palestinian state at this time, even though Britain may join France and Spain in upgrading the Palestinian representation there from delegation to mission status.
The cable said that Sarkozy “continues to push France to play a major role in finding Middle East peace, but he is impatient and often tries to rush events ahead of USG [United States government] plans. For over a year, Sarkozy has promoted a highprofile peace conference in Paris, despite our cautioning that the Israeli and Palestinian sides must first show they are ready to negotiate.”
Another cable released on WikiLeaks in recent days shows that Damascus was involved in organizing the 2006 riots that broke out across the Arab world after the publication of the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
The cartoons were published in Denmark in 2005 and triggered violent protests including attacks on the Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish embassies in Damascus in 2006, the German news agency DPA reported.
According to the cable published by the Norwegian daily Aftenposten, which has reportedly gained access to the more than 250,000 cables and was publishing them independently of WikiLeaks, the Syrian prime minister, several days before the demonstrations, “instructed the Grand Mufti Sheikh Hassoun to issue a strongly worded directive to the imams delivering Friday sermons in the mosques of Damascus.”
The demonstrations ended when Syria “felt that ‘the message had been delivered’,” the cable said quoting a Sunni sheikh whose name was not mentioned.
In other diplomatic developments, National Security Council head Uzi Arad went to Egypt Tuesday for talks with Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to prepare for next week’s planned meeting in Sharm e- Sheikh between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Arad reportedly received no logistical support for the visit from the Foreign Ministry, whose workers have – as part of work sanctions for better pay – declared they will not be involved or help prepare any trips abroad by government officials.
The Foreign Ministry will also boycott next week’s meeting between Netanyahu and Mubarak.
This will not be the first time Netanyahu will be force to travel abroad without logistical help from the Foreign Ministry. He faced a similar situation in August, when the ministry’s workers declined to give any logistical support for his trip to Greece.