France: We backed Palestinian bid to spur resumption of talks
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France: We backed Palestinian bid to spur resumption of talks

Foreign Ministry diplomat meets with French envoy, expresses ‘deep disappointment’ with Paris’s yes vote at UNSC

Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour speaks after the UN Security Council approved an anti-settlements resolution, December 23, 2016 (Frank Franklin II/AP)
Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour speaks after the UN Security Council approved an anti-settlements resolution, December 23, 2016 (Frank Franklin II/AP)

France’s ambassador to Israel Patrick Maisonnave said Friday that Paris backed a UN Security Council resolution that aimed to establish a timetable for a full Israeli pullout from the West Bank and East Jerusalem in order to encourage Israelis and Palestinians to resume peace negotiations.

Maisonnave made the remarks during a meeting at the Foreign Ministry with deputy-director for Western Europe, Aviv Shir-On. The envoy was summoned by the Foreign Ministry for “clarifications” following the Tuesday night vote.

During the meeting Friday, Shir-On expressed Israel’s deep disappointment with France’s yes vote and emphasized that the only way forward with the Palestinians is through negotiations and not unilateral maneuvers .

The resolution would have set a 12-month deadline for Israel to reach a final peace deal with the Palestinians and called for a full withdrawal of Israeli troops by the end of 2017.

Despite objections to the wording of the resolution and a failed attempt to bring forth a much more moderate version of the measure, France backed the resolution because of an “urgent need to act,” Francois Delattre, France’s permanent representative to the UN, told the council on Tuesday.

He expressed disappointment that efforts to negotiate a text that could win consensus failed: “Our efforts must not stop here. It is our responsibility to try again, before it’s too late.”

French Ambassador to Israel Patrick Maisonnave (photo credit: Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)
French Ambassador to Israel Patrick Maisonnave (photo credit: Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)

Aside from France, seven countries voted in favor of the resolution, only one vote short of the nine needed for the measure to pass, which would have necessitated a US veto. The United States and Australia voted against the bid, and five countries abstained: The UK, Lithuania, South Korea, Rwanda and Nigeria. Those African abstentions doomed the Palestinian bid.

Earlier this month, French lawmakers voted in favor of recognizing Palestine as a state following similar moves in Britain and Spain.

The highly symbolic vote in the lower house National Assembly was not binding on French government policy but sparked criticism from Israel, whose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned it would be a “grave mistake.”

Tuesday’s vote at the Security Council came after a three-month Palestinian campaign to win support for a resolution that would have set a three-year timeline for a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders.

Israel hailed the rejection as a victory, saying it dealt a blow to Palestinian efforts to diplomatically “embarrass and isolate” the Jewish state.

Following the failed vote, Abbas signed a request Wednesday to join the International Criminal Court, a move that would establish a new avenue for action against Israel.

Israel, however, maintains it is Palestinian crimes that would be exposed to the judgment of the Hague-based court.

Adiv Sterman contributed to this report.

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