France - Palestine

French parliament debates recognising Palestinian state

The French parliament on Friday begins debating a proposal to formally recognise Palestine, following the British and Spanish parliaments and the Irish Senate. Right-wing parties oppose the move.

Pro-Palestinian protest in Paris on 23 July 2014
Pro-Palestinian protest in Paris on 23 July 2014 Reuters/Benoit Tessier

The motion, put forward by the ruling Socialist Party, calls on the National Assembly to invite the French government to use the recognition of the state of Palestine as an instrument to gain a definitive resolution to the Middle East conflict.

The vote is to take place next Tuesday.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

The French plan for a non-binding but highly symbolic vote follows similar resolutions passed by the British and Spanish parliaments and the Irish parliament.

Sweden's government officially recognised Palestine as a state last month, becoming the 135th country to do so.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned France against recognising a Palestinian state.

Though the resolution is expected to be passed, French MPs are divided.

The majority of Socialist MPs say recognising Palestine will help the peace process, although abouit 10 say they will vote against.

The Greens and the Communist Party will vote for the motion.

Recognition of the state of Palestine has been a longstanding cause for both parties, though the Communist Party regrets that the vote will not be binding.

While the continued settlement-building on Palestinian land and this summer's 50-day offensive by the Israeli army in Gaza increased criticism of the Israeli government here in France, some MPs oppose recognition.

The mainstream right UMP has yet to decide whether to oppose the resolution or abstain on the grounds that foreign policy is the president’s prerogative.

Former families minister Nadine Morano is among the UMP MPs who want the group to vote against.

On Friday told a radio interviewer that Hamas, which is currently part of a unity government with President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah, was “internationally recognised as a terrorist organisation” and that its “allies” Islamic Jihad “beheads Westerners”, apparently confusing the Palestinian group with the Islamic Sate armed group fighting in Iraq and Syria.

The far-right Front National (FN) is divided.

While the official party line is in favour of the vote, the two FN MPs, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen and Gilbert Collard, have expressed opposing opinions.

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