French lawmakers have voted in favor of a resolution calling on the French government to recognize the state of Palestine.
The resolution was adopted Tuesday by 339 votes.
Also, there were 151 lawmakers who voted against the resolution, which was proposed by the Socialist group.
The French Senate is also expected to vote on a similar resolution on Dec. 11.
The French National Assembly had debated the resolution Friday.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France would recognize Palestine as a state if peace efforts failed.
“If this last attempt at negotiation does not succeed, France will assume its responsibilities by recognizing the state of Palestine,” Fabius said.
“France recognizes the State of Palestine; it is not a favor, it is a right,” he said.
“France is a friend of the Israeli people and the Palestinian people. France will recognize the state of Palestine. The question is when and how? Because it is necessary that this recognition should be useful to the efforts to break the deadlock and contribute to achieving a final settlement of this conflict,” he added.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) on Tuesday welcomed a vote by the French National Assembly (parliament) to recognize the state of Palestine, calling on the French government to follow suit.
“It is a courageous step in the right direction,” the Palestinian Authority said in a statement cited by the official Wafa news agency.
The statement said that the French vote serves the future of the Mideast peace process, enhances the prospects for the two-state solution and the establishment of a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 borders.
Wave of recognition in Europe
Europe has lately been swept by a wave of support for Palestinian statehood even as the peace process between Palestinian and Israeli sides remains deadlocked.
The European Parliament had been scheduled to vote on a motion to recognize Palestine on Nov. 27, but because of disagreements over the wording of the motion, the decision was postponed until Dec.18, a European Parliament press release said.
The European Parliament resolution, which was proposed by the left-wing European United Left and the Socialists and Democrats parliamentary groups, is expected to pass, despite Israeli efforts to block it.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said European recognition of a Palestinian state would be a big mistake for peace, but the EU officials disagree.
“We are the leading trade partner for Israel, and we are the leading donor for the Palestinian Authority,” said EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
“We can be the leading political player in the region and we can facilitate dialogue that has to take place directly between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” Mogherini said.
She added a Palestinian state could only exist if Israeli security was also guaranteed.
Gianni Pittella, president of the Socialists and Democrats parliamentary group, called on all EU member states to recognize Palestine.
Pittella said the recognition was absolutely in line with the decision taken by the UN General Assembly in 2012.
In October, Sweden became the first EU country to recognize Palestine.
The U.K. and Spanish parliaments, as well as the Irish Senate, have also all delivered non-binding endorsements, reflecting growing frustration with the sputtering Israel-Palestine peace process.
Denmark’s lawmakers will debate a similar motion in December and other parliaments are expected to vote on similar resolutions in the coming weeks, including the Danish, Italian, Slovenian and Portuguese legislatures.
More than 130 countries have now recognized Palestine as a state.
Peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators collapsed in April of this year over Israel’s refusal to release a fourth group of Palestinian prisoners despite earlier pledges to do so.
The talks aimed to find a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the roots of which date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-famous “Balfour Declaration,” called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
Jewish immigration rose considerably under the British administration of Palestine, which was consolidated by a League of Nations “mandate” in 1922.
In 1948, with the end of the mandate, a new state – Israel – was declared inside historical Palestine.
As a result, some 700,000 Palestinians fled their homes, or were forcibly expelled, while hundreds of Palestinian villages and cities were razed to the ground by invading Jewish forces.
The Palestinian diaspora has since become one of the largest in the world. Palestinian refugees are currently spread across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and other countries, while many have settled in refugee camps in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israel went on to occupy East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.
Palestinians want the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital. — World Bulletin