by Cecile Feuillatre
PARIS: French lawmakers were to debate on Friday a motion urging the government to recognise Palestine as a state, amid growing European frustration at the moribund Middle East peace process.
The symbolic motion is expected to pass comfortably on December 2 when the lower house of parliament votes on the text proposed by the ruling Socialists.
The vote comes hot on the heels of a similar resolution approved by British lawmakers on October 13, Spanish MPs on November 18 and the formal recognition by Sweden on October 30.
The text “invites the French government to use the recognition of the state of Palestine as an instrument to gain a definitive resolution of the conflict”.
It is non-binding on the government, although Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told AFP in a recent interview that France would “obviously at a certain moment recognise the Palestinian state”.
The Socialist MP who drafted the text, Elisabeth Guigou, told AFP the aim was to “reaffirm that the two-state solution is the best guarantee for peace”.
“If we do not act now, there is a risk of entering into an irreversible cycle of violence and transforming this territorial conflict into a regional conflict,” added Guigou.
“Nothing would be worse for the region and for Europe.”
Ahead of the vote, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned France it would be making a “grave mistake” if it recognised Palestine as a state.
“Do they have nothing better to do at a time of beheadings across the Middle East, including that of a French citizen?” he told reporters in Jerusalem on November 23, referring to hiker Herve Gourdel who was executed by his jihadist captors in Algeria in September.
“Recognition of a Palestinian state by France would be a grave mistake,” Netanyahu said.
On the eve of the parliamentary debate, President Francois Hollande told French media he wanted to host an international conference “to find a solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He did not say when such a gathering might take place or who would be invited.