France To Support Palestinians in U.N. Statehood Bid

  @MayaErgas on November 27 2012 11:19 AM
Abbas Oct 2012
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Reuters

Two days before the scheduled vote at the U.N. on the official designation of the Palestinian Territories, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced France will vote in favor of an upgraded "non-member observer status" for the Palestinian Territories, surprising approximately no one. 

"This Thursday or Friday when the question is asked, France will vote yes," Fabius said in a speech to the lower house of parliament, Al-Jazeera reported

This will make France the first major European power, and permanent member of the security council, to offer outright support the Palestinian effort.

Fabius touted France's "consistency" on this issue, saying, "We've known for years France's constant position is to recognise the Palestinian state," France 24 reported.

A mere two weeks ago Radio France Internationale reported that French President François Hollande seemed to be having second thoughts, and was warning of the "risks" of supporting Palestine.

“If there is a solution, France will look at it closely and adopt the best position possible, informing our Palestinian friends of any risks,” Hollande told RFI.

Now there appear to be no doubts in the French mind. Fabius' statement received a standing ovation, France 24 said. Support for Palestinians is something of a hallmark of France's foreign relations, despite the potential to anger both the U.S. and Israel. Last year France voted for the Palestinian Territories' full membership in UNESCO, but abstained from voting on their full membership status in the U.N., under U.S. pressure.

The announcement also gives Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas the strong Western voice he may need to tip the scales. "We are going to the UN fully confident in our steps," he told a large rally.

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