Sarkozy comes out against Palestine recognition
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Sarkozy comes out against Palestine recognition

Ex-French president condemns measure in wake of ‘heinous’ Har Nof attack, says defending Israel’s security is ‘the fight of my life’

Former French president and candidate for the presidency of French right-wing main opposition party UMP Nicolas Sarkozy gestures as he speaks during a meeting in Boulogne-Billancourt, a Paris suburb, on November 25, 2014. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU)
Former French president and candidate for the presidency of French right-wing main opposition party UMP Nicolas Sarkozy gestures as he speaks during a meeting in Boulogne-Billancourt, a Paris suburb, on November 25, 2014. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU)

Former French president Nicholas Sarkozy on Tuesday urged the members of his UMP party to oppose a resolution to recognize the state of Palestine.

Sarkozy condemned the unilateral measure, which is set to be presented for a parliamentary vote on December 2, in the wake of the “heinous and bloody” Har Nof terror attack last week in which five Israelis were killed.

“I will fight for the Palestinians to have their state. But unilateral recognition a few days after a deadly attack and when there is no peace process? No!” he said at a political rally.

Sarkozy said he would never accept a resolution that would “call into question the security of Israel.”

“This is the fight of my life,” he said.

On Tuesday, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said the Netherlands would not recognize a Palestinian state in the near future, since the move would not advance peace.

“We find that is not correct to recognize the Palestinian state. It must be a part of negotiations. In that sense, it should be introduced at a strategic moment,” he said.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that France’s parliament would be making a “grave mistake” if it recognizes a Palestinian state in a vote on December 2.

“Do they have nothing better to do at a time of beheadings across the Middle East, including that of a French citizen?” he told reporters in Jerusalem, referring to hiker Herve Gourdel, who was executed by his jihadist captors in Algeria in September.

“Recognition of a Palestinian state by France would be a grave mistake,” Netanyahu said.

France’s plans for a non-binding but highly symbolic vote follows similar resolutions passed by the British and Spanish parliaments, and an official decision to recognize Palestine by the Swedish government.

Sweden’s move infuriated Israel which responded by recalling its ambassador to Stockholm.

A draft of the proposal in France “invites the French government to use the recognition of the state of Palestine as an instrument to gain a definitive resolution of the conflict.”

The French parliamentary vote follows a similar resolution to “recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution” approved by British lawmakers on October 13.

Israel warned that the British resolution, which passed with a huge majority but is also non-binding, risked undermining peace prospects.

Sweden went further by announcing on October 30 that it officially recognized the Palestinian state, a move heavily criticized by Israel and the United States.

The Palestinian Authority estimates that 135 countries have now recognized Palestine as a state, although the number is disputed and several recognitions by what are now European Union member states date back to the Soviet era.

On Tuesday, sources in Israel and Europe said that the European Parliament postponed a planned vote on the recognition of a Palestinian state by three weeks as lawmakers failed to reach a consensus on the exact wording of the motion.

France was among 14 EU nations that voted in favor of granting Palestine nonmember observer state status at the United Nations in November 2012, in a decision endorsed by Sarkozy.

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