France to back Palestinian bid for observer status at UN Assembly
The French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told parliament that France "will respond 'yes'” when the issue is put on a vote at the UN General Assembly.
France, a permanent UN Security Council member, is the first European country to speak in favor of elevating Palestinian status from an observer to a nonmember observer state.
The United States, which opposes the Palestinian bid for statehood, publicly disagreed with France’s move. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Paris’s decision would not change the US assessment of the Palestinian action as a “mistake.”
“With regard to France and any other countries, we obviously disagree with our oldest ally on this issue,” she told reporters. “They know that we disagree with them. But it's their sovereign decision.”
The Austrian foreign ministry also said Tuesday it would back the Palestinian bid and claimed that more than half of the European Union's 27 member states would vote for the proposal, AFP reported.
Meanwhile, the UK says it is ready to support the PA in their current bid to become a non-member observer state if the Palestinians comply with three conditions, The Telegraph reports.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague allegedly requested Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, pledge not to join the International Criminal Court after its UN status is upgraded, not to apply for full membership at the UN and to resume peace negotiations with Israel without any preconditions.
At the moment the PA refuses to negotiate with Israel until it halts the expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem territories.
On Thursday, the Palestinians will officially ask the assembly to upgrade their status. Earlier the Palestinian Authority said it expected the assembly to vote two-thirds in favor of granting the PA non-member status, seeing the move as an important step toward a two-state solution with Israel.
Israel strongly opposes the bid. Previously Tel Aviv said it objects to any wording the PA would bring for a vote at the assembly.
But as Israeli authorities were unable to block the bid they have changed their stance and now are trying to soften the wording, Haaretz reported on Tuesday citing a senior Israeli official.
The article states Tel Aviv and Washington are working together to change the document.
Last year, Washington used its veto power to block a Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN Security Council. A similar move is unlikely in this case as there are no vetoes in the General Assembly.