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France To Support Palestinian Bid For UN Status

Joseph Krassenstein |
November 27, 2012 | 5:32 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

A wall separating Palestine and Israel (Creative Commons).
A wall separating Palestine and Israel (Creative Commons).
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Tuesday that France will back Palestine’s goal for statehood and will vote “yes” at the U.N. General Assembly this week.

The Palestinians are asking the U.N. General Assembly to upgrade their membership status from “permanent observer” to a “non-member observer state." 

This move comes at a very controversial time as recent deadly fighting between the Palestinian Hamas and Israel has reached a “fragile cease-fire," the Israeli elections are in January and President Barack Obama was re-elected.

France is the first major European country to emerge as supporting Palestine’s ambition for statehood. The rest of Europe is divided over the issue.

China and Russia, two permanent members of the U.N., are also in support of Palestine. 

Great Britain, another permanent member of the U.N., has declared that they remain undecided.

British foreign secretary, William Hague, said that the Palestinian bid would jeopardize the Middle East peace process.

“While there is any chance of achieving a return to (peace) talks in the coming months, we continue to advise President Abbas (of Palestine) against attempts to win Palestinian observer state status at the United Nations through a vote in the U.N. General Assembly," Hague said. "We judge that this would make it harder to secure a return to negotiations, and could have very serious consequences for the Palestinian Authority.” 

Both the United States and Israel are in strong opposition of the move and are concerned that the Palestinians are trying to obtain full statehood via the U.N., instead of through the negotiations set out in the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords. 

Under the Oslo Peace Accords, the Palestinian Authority was established. 

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that France’s decision would not change the U.S.’s opinion.

“With regard to France and any other countries, we obviously disagree with our oldest ally on this issue,” Nuland told reporters. “They know that we disagree with them. But it’s their sovereign decision.” 

Austria and Switzerland said they will also back the Palestinian bid and claim that more than half of the European Union’s 27 members states will vote for the proposal, AFP news agency reports

The application is likely to win approval in the 193-member UN General Assembly as it only needs a simple majority to pass. 

According to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), more than 130 countries have granted the Palestinians rank of a sovereign state. 


Reach Staff Reporter Joseph Krassenstein here.



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