French-Jewish lawmaker warns against Palestine recognition

Parliament in Paris is about to ‘import Mideast conflict’ and invite more anti-Semitic attacks, says Meyer Habib

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

MP Meyer Habib speaks at the National Assembly in Paris, November 28, 2014. (screen capture)
MP Meyer Habib speaks at the National Assembly in Paris, November 28, 2014. (screen capture)

The French parliament is about to import the Middle East conflict and encourage Islamist terrorism, a French-Jewish lawmaker said, criticizing a vote on a motion to recognize a Palestinian state, which is widely expected to pass this week.

“Voting for this resolution is a grave error — morally, strategically and politically,” said Meyer Habib, who entered the Assemblee Nationale in 2013, representing French citizens in eight countries around the Mediterranean, including Israel. “It will remove France from any position in which it can participate in any negotiations in the Middle East.”

Unilaterally recognizing a Palestinian state at the current juncture will invite more anti-Semitic attacks such as the March 2012 Toulouse shootings or the May 2014 shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, Habib said in an interview last week.

“The government is importing the conflict to France,” the first-time center-right lawmaker charged, adding that a yes vote would legitimize all kinds of Islamic terrorism. “We’ll have embraced terrorism and lost our soul with a decision like this.”

On Tuesday, the lower house of the parliament in Paris will vote on the non-binding motion, proposed by the governing Socialist Party, which “invites the French government to use the recognition of the state of Palestine as an instrument to gain a definitive resolution of the conflict.” On Friday, the Assemblee Nationale held a passionate debate on the matter, during which Habib compared the resolution to the 1919 Versailles Treaty. “It had terrible consequences for France and the world,” he said. “Why reproduce the errors of the past?”

While the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state that seeks to live in peace with Israel is desirable, such a scenario is currently not in the cards due to the Palestinian leadership, which is “half-corrupt, half-jihadist,” Habib said in impassioned address [French] in parliament. “It is counterproductive and irresponsible,” he said about the prospects of the parliament passing the motion.

Speaking to The Times of Israel during a visit to Israel, Habib acknowledged that his colleagues in the Assemblee Nationale will most likely adopt the motion by a large majority, despite his best efforts to dissuade them.

“Passing this resolution is akin to handing a prize to terrorism, to legitimize terrorism,” he said, because the Palestinian Authority is in a unity agreement with Hamas. The motion’s text does not make any reference to the fact that the PA is associated with a terrorist organization, which is aggravated by the fact that jihadist forces have been killing French soldiers, he added.

“Jihadism and terrorism are on our borders and kill our compatriots,” said Habib, who was born in Paris to an Italo-Tunisian family. “We don’t realize that it’s not a territorial question but one of radical Islam, which is trying to take over the world.”

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)

Habib, who also holds Israeli citizenship, has been close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for decades. Last week, he met several times with Netanyahu, discussing, among other things, France’s possible recognition of a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu said he would be extremely disappointed if the vote passed, arguing that Israel doesn’t get in involved in the question of whether Corsica or New Caledonia (a French Island in the southwest Pacific Ocean, some 16,000 kilometers from Metropolitan France) should be independent, as some wish, according to Habib.

Last week, Netanyahu said he was worried about the upcoming vote in the French parliament. “This is what is going to produce peace? To ask Israel to put the suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in the hands of Islamic militants? This is irresponsible. It’s not conducive to peace,” he said in an interview to i24 News. “In fact, it hardens the Palestinian positions because it tells them, you get a state — which will be used to attack Israel — you don’t have to give anything. I think this is a terribly misguided position.”

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