PLO welcomes France’s initiative to recognize Palestinian statehood
French Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius waves as he arrives before a meeting with the Iranian president at the Elysee Palace in Paris on January 28, 2016. (AFP/Bertrand Guay)
The PLO late Friday welcomed calls made by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius regarding a new peace initiative to end the ongoing Israeli military occupation, the failure of which would result in France's recognition of Palestine.
“We welcome the call made by France for an inclusive and serious international involvement towards ending the Israeli occupation that began in 1967,” PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said in a statement, calling on the international community to participate in France’s efforts.
The initiative was rejected shortly after by Israeli officials due to France’s pledge to recognize Palestine as an independent state if the new plans failed, according to Israeli media reports.
Palestinian ambassador to France, Salman al-Harfi, confirmed to Ma'an that France would recognize Palestine if the conflict was not resolved through the new bid, which would reportedly kick off with an international conference held within the next few weeks to renew diplomatic relations between the two sides.
Referring to the French FM’s proposal that a “dead end” in negotiations would result in the recognition of a Palestinian state, Israeli daily Haaretz quoted a senior Israeli official as saying: “This statement is an incentive for the Palestinians to bring about a dead end. Negotiations cannot be held nor peace achieved in this manner."
Fabius reportedly pointed to France's membership in the UN Security Council as obligating French leadership to continue pushing for a two-state solution.
The French FM has repeatedly carried out efforts towards pushing peace initiatives between Palestinian and Israeli leadership, but has subsequently come up empty handed.
In December 2014, the French National Assembly and Senate voted in favor of a non-binding recognition of a Palestinian state.
In 2014 and 2015, Fabius pushed a UN resolution that laid out parameters for peace talks that failed after Palestinian leadership disagreed with the resolution's final amendments and the US and Israel pressured France to halt its efforts.
The UN resolution proposed by Fabius was slammed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who in June of 2015 said: "The only way to reach an agreement is through bilateral negotiations, and we will forcibly reject any attempts to force upon us international dictates.”
Fabius’ efforts last year fell within months of declarations by the Israeli PM during national elections that he would neither allow a Palestinian state or a Palestinian capital in occupied East Jerusalem.
Rapid settlement expansion on occupied Palestinian land continued under Netanyahu’s watch, despite the PM’s remarks that settlement growth is minuscule is not actually “a core issue.”
Peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinian leadership have been ongoing for decades and are largely viewed by Palestinians as having failed to make any progress towards ending the military occupation by Israel.
The most recent spate of negotiations led by the US collapsed in April 2014.
Israel claimed the process failed because the Palestinians refused to accept a US framework document outlining the way forward, while Palestinians pointed to Israel's settlement building and the government's refusal to release veteran prisoners.