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France to Back Palestinian Bid to Raise UN Status

French Foreign Minister: 'We've known for years France's constant position is to recognize the Palestinian state'

Common Dreams staff

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. (photo: franceonu photo/Martin Loper)

France will support a Palestinian bid for non-member observer state status at the UN, the country announced on Tuesday.

"This Thursday or Friday, when the question is asked, France will vote yes," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told his country's National Assembly.

"We've known for years France's constant position is to recognize the Palestinian state," said Fabius, a statement that France24 reports was met with "a round of applause in France’s lower house."

The new UN status sought by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas could bring groundbreaking effects, as Reuters reports that "[i]t could also grant access to bodies such as the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where the Palestinians could file complaints against Israel."

The Guardian reports that Britain had offered conditional support for the bid, being "prepared to back a key vote recognizing Palestinian statehood at the United Nations if Mahmoud Abbas pledges not to pursue Israel for war crimes and to resume peace talks."

The US and Israel oppose the move.  

"We continue to try to dissuade the Palestinians from taking this action. We think it's going to be complicating and potentially a step backwards in terms of the larger goal, which is a negotiated solution," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Monday.

And The Guardian adds that the US and Israel "have both hinted at possible retaliation if the vote goes ahead. Congress could block payments to the Palestinian Authority and Israel might freeze tax revenues it transfers under the 1993 Oslo agreement or, worse, withdraw from the agreement altogether. It could also annex West Bank settlements."

In 2011, Palestine attempted to join the UN as a full member state, but was blocked by the UN Security Council -- a body in which the US has veto power.

The UN General Assembly is set to vote on the resolution later this week, and news agencies report that the resolution appears certain to pass.

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