Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met Friday with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, and said afterwards that France is increasingly studying the possibility of recognizing a Palestinian state.
“The French certainly care a lot about that issue,” Abbas told reporters, referring to the possibility of France recognizing a Palestinian state. “They are studying it more and more.”
“They believe it is one of the most important issues on which they should focus their attention,” Abbas said following the meeting in the Elysee Palace.
More than 130 countries have recognized a Palestinian state, but some of the international community’s most influential members, including France, the US and the UK, have not made such a move.
At a press conference at the European Union headquarters in January, the PA president called on European Union member countries to recognize “the State of Palestine,” contending such a step would encourage Palestinians to maintain hope for peace.
Israel has long held that recognizing a Palestinian state will harden the Palestinians’ negotiating positions, making it more difficult to reach a final peace agreement.
Abbas also said that the Palestinians have “confidence in France’s position” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
France has recently stated its opposition to a number of measures that US President Donald Trump’s administration has taken against the Palestinians.
Earlier this month the French Foreign Ministry said that it “deeply regrets” the Trump administration’s decision to end all American funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the UN body tasked with aiding Palestinian refugees.
It has also cut other aid to the Palestinians, including $25 million to East Jerusalem hospitals.
Trump said earlier this month that aid to the Palestinians will remain withheld until the Palestinians “make a deal with Israel.”
Abbas added that the Palestinians are prepared to participate in any “secret” or “publicly known” peace negotiations on the condition that the Middle East Quartet and “other states” mediate them.
The Quartet compromises the US, Russia, EU and United Nations.
The PA president explained that in addition to the Quartet, the Palestinians would “welcome any European or Arab state” to mediate talks between them and the Israelis.
Since Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and initiated the relocation of the US Embassy in the Jewish state to the city, Abbas has said on multiple occasions the Palestinians will no longer cooperate with a US-dominated peace process.
Israel has said that it will only work with a US-led peace process.
Following his visit to Paris, Abbas is expected to travel to Ireland and then to the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York City, where he is scheduled to deliver a speech on September 27.