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France, Spain to vote on recognising Palestinian state

Sweden announced on 30 October it officially recognised Palestinian as a state
Protesters during a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Marseille, France on 2 August (AFP)

French lawmakers will vote on 28 November on a proposal to recognise Palestine as a state, a parliamentary source told AFP on Wednesday.

The non-binding, but highly symbolic vote, was proposed by the ruling Socialist party, and follows a similar resolution by the British parliament and an official decision to recognise Palestine by the Swedish government.

A draft of the new proposal states that the lower house National Assembly "invites the French government to use the recognition of the state of Palestine as an instrument to gain a definitive resolution of the conflict".

Spain's parliament has also announced plans to hold the symbolic vote to recognise a Palestinian state on 18 November.

The proposal was presented by the Spain's socialist opposition party but it appears the governing conservatives will support it, reported Haaretz. 

European leaders have shown signs of mounting impatience with Israel over its continued settlement-building in Palestinian territories.

Criticism has become more focused in the wake of the 50-day offensive by the Israeli army in Gaza that killed some 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 72 on the Israeli, including four civilians.

France saw a spate of pro-Palestinian protests during the offensive, including some that turned violent.

The Jewish Agency for Israel, an advocacy group, said in September that more Jews had left France for Israel than from any other country in 2014, blaming a "climate of anti-Semitism."

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius acknowledged in an interview with AFP last week that France would "obviously at a certain moment recognise the Palestinian state."

"The question is when and how? Because this recognition must be useful for efforts to break the deadlock and contribute to a final resolution of the conflict," he added.

The French parliamentary vote will come hot on the heels of a similar resolution to "recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution" approved by British lawmakers on 13 October.

Israel and the United States have both heavily criticised the moves in Europe to recognise Israel.

The Palestinian Authority estimates that 134 countries have now recognised 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. An AFP count puts the number of states that recognise Palestine at 112.

France was among 14 EU nations that voted in favour of granting Palestinian territories observer status at the United Nations in November 2012.