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Will France recognize Palestine?

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Paris would do so only if this would help achieve peace, not as a symbolic gesture

Published: Updated:

After Sweden officially recognized Palestine last month, other European countries seem eager to follow suit.

French lawmakers are preparing to vote on Nov. 28 on a proposal urging the government to recognize Palestine.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Paris would do so only if this would help achieve peace, not as a symbolic gesture.

Some experts say the initiative would help revive peace talks that broke down in April.

“Recognition of the state of Palestine by France and other countries would be a reaffirmation of international support for peace,” Samir Saul, a Middle East expert and professor at the University of Montreal, told Al Arabiya News.

Recognition “would contribute in reviving the so-called peace process,” he added.

In France, an online survey recently conducted by Le Point magazine showed that among the 127,120 voters, 99,035 (78 percent) support recognition of Palestine.

French politician Pouria Amirshahi said recognition would give Palestine more weight at the negotiating table.

“It’s the right time to recognize the Palestinian state,” Amirshahi said, adding that a “smart peace process” requires equality between the two parties.

“In this conflict… it’s unequal combat between a recognized state that has all its legal capacities, and a state that’s not totally recognized and can’t take any legal action,” Amirshahi added.

Recognition of Palestine by European countries could politically isolate the rightwing government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel has slammed moves to recognize Palestine, saying independence could only be achieved through negotiations, which would be undermined.

Facts on the ground

Some analysts say recognizing Palestine will not change anything on the ground.

“There are fewer chances to see the creation of a Palestinian state as long as the 40-year-long [Israeli] colonization doesn’t come to an end,” Sébastien Boussois, Middle East specialist and scientific director of the MEDEA Institute, told Al Arabiya News.

Israel has occupied the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since 1967.

It officially annexed East Jerusalem in 1980 and declared the whole city its capital, a move not recognized by the international community.

“Recognizing Palestine may lead to a series of protests across France,” Boussois who wrote many books on the topic said adding that the move may damage Paris’s fragile relations with Israel and the United States.