French FM: Last chance for Mideast peace through talks
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French FM: Last chance for Mideast peace through talks

Fabius says France seeks to host international talks for deal within two years; MPs end debate on Palestine recognition, vote set for Tuesday

French Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius at the French National Assembly in Paris, November 28, 2014 (Photo credit: Patrick Kovarick/AFP)
French Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius at the French National Assembly in Paris, November 28, 2014 (Photo credit: Patrick Kovarick/AFP)

PARIS — France’s foreign minister Friday urged the international community to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within two years, as the French parliament debated whether to recognize a Palestinian state.

“At the United Nations, we are working with our partners to adopt a Security Council resolution to relaunch and conclude talks. A deadline of two years is the one most often mentioned and the French government can agree with this figure,” Laurent Fabius told MPs.

The Palestinians are planning to formally submit to the UN Security Council a draft resolution calling for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank in 2016.

Fabius said that France is prepared to host international talks in a bid to push forward a drive for peace.

“An international conference could be organized, France is prepared to take the initiative on this and in these talks, recognition [of the Palestinian state] would be an instrument … for the definitive resolution of the conflict,” he said.

Fabius did not specify when this conference, also mentioned late Thursday by French President Francois Hollande, might take place, nor did he say who might be invited.

Nevertheless, he said France hoped to bring together all the main players in the conflict, citing the European Union, the Arab League and all the permanent members of the UN Security Council.

“If these efforts fail. If this last attempt at a negotiated settlement does not work, then France will have to do its duty and recognize the state of Palestine without delay and we are ready to do that,” stressed Fabius.

The minister has frequently said that France would recognize a Palestinian state “when the time comes,” arguing that a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict logically implies recognition of a Palestinian state.

The head of the Palestinian Mission in France, Hael Al Fahoum, watches a debate on the recognition of a Palestinian state, at the French Parliament in Paris, Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Michel Euler)
The head of the Palestinian Mission in France, Hael Al Fahoum, watches a debate on the recognition of a Palestinian state, at the French Parliament in Paris, Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Earlier Friday, French MPs held a two-hour debate on a non-binding, symbolic motion on whether to recognize Palestine. The motion will be voted on Tuesday and is expected to pass.

The vote follows similar resolutions approved by British lawmakers on October 13, Spanish MPs on November 18 and the formal recognition of Palestine by Sweden on October 30.

On Thursday Hollande said that France has a role to play in renewing stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and was seeking to organize an international peace conference for the purpose.

French President Francois Hollande addressing the nation, on May 26, 2014 during a TV broadcast at the Elysee presidential Palace in Paris. (photo credit: AFP/FRANCE 2)
French President Francois Hollande addressing the nation, on May 26, 2014 during a TV broadcast at the Elysee presidential Palace in Paris. (photo credit: AFP/FRANCE 2)

“France must take the initiative to find a diplomatic solution” to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict “that has been going on for decades,” the French president said in an interview to France 24, TV5 Monde and RFI.

On Wednesday, the EU Parliament debated whether to issue recognition and is set to vote sometime in December.

In the debate, European Parliament members appeared sharply divided on what policy to endorse. One lawmaker branded Israel “a state of child killers and land robbers,” while another likened a Palestinian state to the Islamic State terrorist group.

Brokered by the US, Israeli-Palestinian peace talks restarted in July 2013 but collapsed in April, with tensions and violence mounting again dramatically in recent weeks.

There has been international alarm over a spate of deadly terror attacks carried out by Palestinians inside Israel along with rioting in East Jerusalem and the deadlock over peace talks that are fueling fear of another flare-up after the Israel-Hamas war earlier this year.

AP contributed to this report.

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