'French recognition of Palestinian state will hurt peace'

Israel officials say proposal to acknowledge state "no matter what" likely to stiffen PA position against direct talks.

bernard kouchner 311 (photo credit: AP [file])
bernard kouchner 311
(photo credit: AP [file])
A French proposal to recognize a Palestinian state even before any agreement is reached with Israel is likely to stiffen the position of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and push off direct negotiations between the sides even further, Israeli officials said on Sunday.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was quoted on Sunday as telling Le Journal du Dimanche that he would “be tempted” by the idea of having the international community recognize a Palestinian state before an agreement on borders could be worked out.
“We could envision the rapid proclamation of a Palestinian state and its immediate recognition by the international community, even before negotiation about its borders,” he was quoted as saying.
But, he added, “I’m not sure of being followed on that, and I’m not even sure of being right.”
Kouchner’s comments came prior to his meeting later in the day with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who was to meet with President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday.
Senior Israeli government officials said the idea of such recognition of a Palestinian state had not been raised in conversations that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has held with various European leaders in the past two weeks.
Netanyahu’s position is that diplomatic matters will only move forward through direct negotiations with the Palestinians, and that the Palestinians will be reticent to both enter into negotiations and to make concessions if they believe that the international community will give them what they want regardless of what they do.
Anything that strengthens the impression that someone from the outside will “deliver” Israel is counterproductive, the official said.
Kouchner is expected to write an op-ed expanding on the matter in the coming days.
Israeli officials say that Jerusalem has relayed its opposition to such recognition of a Palestinian state to the Europeans.
In a related diplomatic development, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon met on Sunday with US Deputy Secretary of State Jacob Lew and discussed, according to Ayalon’s office, ways the US and Israel could cooperate to improve the PA economy.
Judging from a statement put out by Ayalon, however, the two men dealt primarily with promoting US-Israel cooperation in providing humanitarian aid overseas through projects between Mashav, the Israeli Center for International Cooperation, and America’s USAID (the United States Agency for International Development).
“Israel can add its expertise to any development projects that the USis involved in and can assist, especially in areas such as watermanagement and public health,” Ayalon said. “We are currently workingwith the German government on humanitarian efforts in Africa.”
According to Ayalon’s office, Lew said he appreciated Israel’s work inHaiti following the earthquake there, and said it was indicative of howthe two nations could cooperate.
AP contributed to this report.