France’s top legislative bodies will vote over the next month on whether to symbolically recognize Palestine as a state. The vote comes on the heels of the Swedish government recognizing Palestine in October and Britain’s House of Commons doing likewise in a nonbinding resolution.
French lawmakers will vote on two motions, one on Nov. 28 in the National Assembly, the lower house, and the second in the Senate on Dec. 11, that were put forward by the ruling Socialist bloc and the Left Front party. The motions ask the French government to "use the recognition of a Palestinian state as an instrument to achieve a definitive solution to the conflict” in Gaza. The vote will not be recognized by President François Hollande’s government, but would be a sign of the country’s approach toward Israel-Palestinian relations.
Hollande has previously said Europe needed to play a larger role in resolving the conflict.
"For a solution to finally be reached, the United States' role will be decisive," Hollande said in an annual speech to French diplomats outlining foreign policy objectives in August. "But Europe's role is as important. It must act more. Europe does a lot to rebuild and develop Palestine, but it can't simply just be a bank window where we turn to heal the wounds after a recurring conflict."
The European Union is the biggest aid donor to the Palestinian Authority and Israel's biggest economic partner, accounting for just under one third of its exports and imports.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said earlier this month that Paris should not recognize Palestine as a symbolic gesture and would do so only if it would help achieve peace in the region. However, if negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel fail, Paris would recognize the Palestinian state, Fabius said in parliament one day after British lawmakers voted to symbolically recognize Palestine.
"From the moment when we say that there are two states, there will be recognition of a Palestinian state. That goes without saying, it's logical," Fabius said. "The only question are the modalities and how to do it in the most efficient way. What we want is not something symbolic, but something that is useful for peace."
In a trend building across Europe, the Irish Senate passed a motion on a voice vote in October that called on the government to “formally recognize the State of Palestine," and Spain is poised to vote on recognition of Palestianian statehood this year as well.