France to back Palestine bid in the UN

France To Back Palestinian UN Status Upgrade

France has confirmed that it will vote for Palestinian non-member status at the United Nations later in the week. Palestinians have high hopes for their potentially upgraded status in the UN.

The Palestinians are asking the UN General Assembly to upgrade their status from that of “permanent observer” to a “non-member observer state.” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that France has long supported Palestine’s desire for statehood, adding that they would be voting in favor of Palestine’s status upgrade “out of a concern for coherency.”

“This Thursday or Friday, when the question is asked, France will vote yes,” Fabius told the lower house of parliament. “It’s only with negotiations between the two sides that we demand immediately, without any preconditions, that a Palestinian state can become a reality.”

The vote will take place later this week, report the BBC. France is the first major European country (and permanent member of the UN Security Council) to openly favor the move. Germany is expected to vote against the Palestinians, while the UK is undecided.

If the Palestinians are upgraded in the UN, it would allow them to participate in General Assembly debates and would greatly improve their chances of joining UN agencies and the International Criminal Court (ICC). If they are allowed to sign the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, Palestinians hope to challenge the state of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

Both Israel and the United States are concerned that the status upgrade would foreshadow an attempt by Palestine to debate statehood through the UN rather than through negotiation (set out in the 1993 Oslo peace accords).

President Mahmoud Abbas has said he does not “want any confrontations with the United States or Israel,” adding, “If we can start a dialogue or negotiations the day after the [UN] vote, we will.” But in 2010, he said: “We have frankly said, and always will say: If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it.”

So unless he’s had a change of heart, isn’t confrontation inevitable? What do you think?