France’s presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron on Friday said he would not unilaterally recognize the state of Palestine if he is elected on Sunday.
In a French television interview, centrist Macron, who is some 24% ahead of far-right rival Marine Le Pen, said he backs a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that unilaterally recognizing Palestine would cause instability and would harm France’s relations with Israel.
He recalled that he when visited Israel — as economy minister in 2015 — “I defended the principle of a two-state solution, and France’s commitment to that.” He also recalled that he criticized the Israeli settlement enterprise. “Those are my consistent positions,” he said.
Elaborating, Macron said that “unilateral recognition of Palestine, right now, will undermine stability.” It would also “have implications in the loss of the entire [French] relationship with the state of Israel.”
In January 2016, then-foreign minister Laurent Fabius said France would recognize a Palestinian state if efforts to broker progress failed. That threat was walked back two months later by Fabius’s successor Jean-Marc Ayrault.
France’s chief rabbi last week joined Muslim and Christian faith leaders in an endorsement of Macron against Le Pen.
Haim Korsia’s office issued the endorsement last Thursday, a day after a remarkably acrimonious televised debate between the two candidates ahead of the May 7 runoff. Titled “Call to Vote for Mr. Emmanuel Macron,” it was co-signed by Pastor François Clavairoly, president of the Protestant Federation of France, and Anouar Kbibech, president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith.
An explicit show of support for any particular candidate is rare for all three clergymen.
“Fully aware that our roles require us to be non-partisan, we are, however, first and foremost responsible citizens and therefore openly are calling for a vote in favor of Emmanuel Macron,” the three men wrote.
National Front, which was founded in the 1970s by Marine Le Pen’s father, a Holocaust denier with convictions for inciting racial hatred against Jews, is considered anti-Islam for its plan to ban public prayer, limit the construction of mosques and impose a shutdown on immigration from Muslims countries.
Le Pen has vowed to ban the wearing both of Muslim garb and Jewish symbols in public if elected. She has distanced herself from the anti-Semitic rhetoric of her father, though she said last month France was “not responsible” for the rounding up of Jews by French officers during the Nazi occupation.
“It is no longer enough to defeat National Front,” the clergymen wrote in their statement. “We must remind [Frenchmen], speaking in one voice, the humanist foundations that animate us, and toward which we work today.”