Europe News

French parliament to hold symbolic vote on Palestine status

PARIS (Reuters) - French lawmakers are set to hold symbolic parliamentary votes over the next month on whether the government should recognize Palestine as a state, a move likely to anger the Jewish state.

Pro-Palestinian protesters hold boards reading: " Palestine, a state now" (R) and: "down with zionism" during a demonstration, which had been authorized by police, against violence in the Gaza strip, in Paris July 23, 2014. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

France does not classify Palestine as a state, but says it could extend recognition if it believed doing so would help promote peace between the Palestinians and Israel.

The Swedish government recognized the state of Palestine last month and Britain’s parliament did the same in a non-binding vote. Similar moves have been proposed in Spain and Ireland.

Two motions due for debate in the French National Assembly on Nov. 28, and the Senate on Dec. 11 put forward by the ruling Socialist bloc and the Left Front party, ask the French government to “use the recognition of a Palestinian state as an instrument to achieve a definitive solution to the conflict”.

The National Assembly still needs to formally ratify the motion.

It is unclear whether lawmakers would vote in favor of the motions, an edict which has caused anger with some pro-Israel members on all sides of the political spectrum.

Even if lawmakers do back the motion, it is non-binding and would not force the government to change its diplomatic stance.

The foreign ministry on Wednesday did not specifically comment on the parliamentary vote, but repeated it was urgent to relaunch peace talks that would lead to a Palestinian state.

“France is attached to a two-state solution,” Spokesman Romain Nadal said in a daily news briefing. “This solution implies that there will be a recognition of a Palestinian state by France,” he said.

Paris has previously supported Palestine’s membership of the United Nations cultural agency UNESCO and its non-member observer country status at the United Nations.

Palestinians seek statehood in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and blockaded Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as their capital - lands captured by Israel in a 1967 war, although Israeli soldiers and settlers withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

The latest round of fitful efforts to forge a two-state solution collapsed in April and Palestinians now see little choice but to push unilaterally for statehood and have encouraged international steps to recognize it.

Tension has risen between Palestinians and Israelis in recent weeks as disputes have mounted over Jewish access to one of Jerusalem’s holiest sites, revered by Muslims as Noble Sanctuary, where al-Aqsa mosque stands, and by Jews as the Temple Mount, where their biblical temples once stood.

Reporting By Emile Picy and John Irish