France announces it will vote for PA's UN bid

French FM Fabius says France will vote in favor of granting Palestine non-member status in UN; Australia to abstain.

Mahmoud Abbas UN 370 (photo credit: Scott Eells/Bloomberg)
Mahmoud Abbas UN 370
(photo credit: Scott Eells/Bloomberg)
France said on Tuesday it would vote in favor of Palestinian non-member status at the United Nations.
The Palestinian Authority late Monday night submitted a draft resolution to the UN General Assembly which, if approved, would upgrade its status to non-member observer state. The vote is scheduled to take place on Thursday in the 193-seat body.
"This Thursday or Friday, when the question is asked, France will vote yes," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced in the lower house of parliament on Tuesday.
The Palestinian resolution reportedly is 316-words-long and calls for a resumption of peace talks with Israel following the UN vote.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the draft lacks any mention of a construction moratorium in Israeli settlements as a precondition for future negotiations, nor of joining UN agencies and treaties.
The move came despite ongoing US efforts to prevent the Palestinian Authority from bringing the resolution to a vote, a senior US official said Monday, according to the Journal.
“Our message to the Palestinians has not changed,” the official said. “We believe that bringing forward a resolution on statehood is unwise, does not help bring them closer to their legitimate aspirations, and will create an environment less positive for negotiations. We are trying to prevent this from happening, don’t want it to happen, and it has not happened yet.”
One Israeli official said that the US was working actively in the UN to try and use procedural measures to block Abbas from even being able to bring the resolution to a vote. He said the US was also working in various key capitals around the world to convince other countries not to support it.
Although the 27-member EU has not yet decided how it would vote on the resolution, the Israeli official said the majority of EU states would like to see a consensus position, and that if a consensus could be reached, they would likely abstain on the matter.
“There is still a concerted effort to reach a consensus,” one official said. “The Europeans love a consensus.”
The Financial Times reported Monday that the United Kingdom is preparing to support the PA's UN bid. Citing unnamed officials, the report stated that London was seeking assurances from the PA that: it would not seek to join the International Criminal Court or other UN agencies; it would not take its statehood bid to the UN Security Council; and that it would return to negotiations with Israel without preconditions.
According to the report, London would support the bid in an attempt to bolster PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who is viewed as a moderate alternative to Hamas and other rival Palestinian organizations.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported Tuesday that Australia will abstain from voting on the PA resolution after Australian Prime Minster Julia Gillard faced pressure from her cabinet not to vote with Israel and the US against the move.
According to the report, all but two of Gillard's cabinet members opposed Gillard's desire to vote against the resolution during a meeting on the subject on Monday night.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.