Tuesday, 2 December 2014

French MPs vote in favor of recognizing Palestine state


French lawmakers voted on Tuesday in favour of recognising Palestine as a state, following similar moves in Britain and Spain as European countries try to restart the stalled Middle East peace process.

The highly symbolic vote in the lower house National Assembly is not binding on French government policy but is likely to spark fury in Israel, whose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned it would be a "grave mistake."

MPs voted 339 to 151 in favor of a motion that invites Paris to recognize the state of Palestine "as an instrument to gain a definitive resolution of the conflict."

Palestinians are seeking to achieve statehood in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank with east Jerusalem as the capital. With little progress on reaching a settlement, they have been lobbying foreign powers for international recognition.

During a debate on the issue Friday, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius stressed that Paris would recognize Palestine if diplomatic efforts failed again and urged a resolution to the Middle East conflict within two years.

France is spearheading a drive at the United Nations to unfreeze the moribund peace process and the Palestinian envoy to the UN said earlier Tuesday a draft resolution could be submitted to the Security Council by mid-December. more

French parliament to call for recognition of Palestinian state


(Reuters) - French lawmakers are set to vote on Tuesday to call on the government to recognize Palestine, a symbolic move that will not immediately affect France's diplomatic stance but demonstrates growing European impatience with a stalled peace process.

While most developing countries recognize Palestine as a state, most Western European countries do not, supporting the Israeli and U.S. position that an independent Palestinian state should emerge from negotiations with Israel.

European countries have grown frustrated with Israel, which since the collapse of the latest U.S.-sponsored talks in April has pressed on with building settlements in territory the Palestinians want for their state.

Palestinians say negotiations have failed and they have no choice but to pursue independence unilaterally.

In October, Sweden became the biggest Western European country to recognize Palestine, and parliaments in Spain, Britain and Ireland held votes in which they backed non-binding resolutions in favor of recognition. more

Egypt closes Rafah after stranded Gazans return home


Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah crossing with the Gaza Strip on Tuesday after it was open for two days to allow Palestinians stranded in Egypt to return home, a statement said.

The Palestinian department of borders and crossings said in a statement that 554 travelers were allowed to return to Gaza throughout the two days the crossing was open.

Rafah was only open for Palestinians entering Gaza via Egypt, and not vice versa.

Egypt also opened the crossing for two days last week, when some 500 stranded Palestinians were allowed to enter.

Before last Wednesday, the terminal had been closed for more than 30 consecutive days.

The crossing has only been open occasionally and for exceptions since the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi, but Egyptian authorities shut it definitively following a deadly attack on Egyptian policeman in the Sinai peninsula. more