x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

France to back Palestinian UN status

France said yesterday it would vote in favour of Palestinian non-member status at the United Nations, boosting Palestinian efforts to secure greater international recognition.

PARIS // France said yesterday it would vote in favour of Palestinian non-member status at the United Nations, boosting Palestinian efforts to secure greater international recognition.

After their bid for full UN membership last year was thwarted by US opposition in the UN Security Council, Palestinians launched a watered-down bid for recognition as a non-member state, similar to the status the Vatican enjoys.

The proposal, which is due to be put to the vote in the General Assembly at the end of the week, would implicitly recognise Palestinian statehood. It could also grant access to bodies such as the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

"When the question is asked, France will vote yes," the country's foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said in the French National Assembly, the lower house of parliament.

The Palestinians' bid seems certain to win approval in any vote in the 193-nation assembly. The United States says Palestinian statehood must be achieved by negotiation and has called on the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, to return to peace talks that collapsed in 2010 over Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

"It is only with negotiations between the two sides that we demand immediately without any preconditions that a Palestinian state can become a reality," Mr Fabius said.

Under the former president, Nicolas Sarkozy, France had promised to support Mr Abbas if he opted for the upgrade option and broke from its closest allies last year, voting in favour of giving the Palestinians full membership of the UN's cultural agency, Unesco.