Why France’s Intentions to Recognize Palestine Are at a Deadlock
On the day following the vote by the British Parliament on the recognition of the State of Palestine, French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, insisted that the recognition of Palestine must not be solely ‘symbolical’. While at the same time, conceding that the debate, as far as France is concerned, is at a standstill, by declaring that the recognition of Palestine will take place ‘in due time’. Thus postponing what a great number of countries — now North and South, including Britain, and the Kingdom of Sweden — have finally come to integrate.
NARROW DIPLOMATIC LEEWAY
During the Ambassadors’ Conference, on 29 August held at the Quai d’Orsay in Paris, Laurent Fabius had come out with this statement: ‘The State of Palestine will have to be recognized, at some point.’ But for the time being, Paris is thinking of the best schedule possible. ‘It’s a single-shot rifle,’ explained a French diplomat. ‘The question we’re asking is how to be useful? A cluster of unilateral recognitions, spread out over one or two years, would be good for Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians, but it could also have a pernicious effect, by bearing witness to our inability to make a difference on the ground, whilst promoting the side-by-side, two-state fiction.’
Paris would like to play a part in the diplomatic initiative, discussed behind closed doors during the donor conference in Cairo: that of an international peace conference, which would aim at breaking with the method used for twenty one years and the Oslo Accords, which entrusted the United States with the role of single mediator. This time, the Arab peace initiative that Saudi Arabia had put forth in 2002 could be promoted. The Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, urged the Israeli Government to consider it seriously.
IMPACT ON FRENCH INTERIOR AFFAIRS
Meanwhile, the handling of this international issue has far-reaching consequences on French soil. In a book published in February this year, Pascal Boniface, Director of the Institute for International and Strategic Relations (IRIS), asked how the conflict may be prevented from ‘infecting’ French society. ‘The confusion over the difference between anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and criticism of those actions taken by the Israeli government’ he said, ‘contributes to the importation of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, whereby the defence of Israeli government policies takes precedence over the fight against anti-Semitism.’
Pascal Boniface is particularly concerned that the continuous victimization of the Jewish community against Muslims in France may be a threat to the Republic’s base principle of equity. ‘This situation,’ he said, ‘which creates the impression of double standards, is one of the major causes of resentment against the Jewish community.’ He then added that ‘to be respected, more and more Muslims say they have to organize themselves as a community and create a Muslim version of the CRIF [the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions]. ‘The risk,’ concludes Pascal Boniface, is to have the fight against racism rely on communitarianism when it should be everyone’s concern, and foremost, the concern of the Republic.’
Source: Olivier Truc, Philippe Bernard and Piotr Smolar, ‘Le Parlement britannique vote la reconnaissance de la Palestine,’ Le Monde