Law makers after voting results declared
Syyed Mansoor Agha
In a significant development on Dec 2, Wednesday, French Law Makers voted in favor of recognition of “Palestine as a State”. The proposal was passed with 339 votes in favor and 151 against, meaning that it was supported by more than two-thirds of French lawmakers. None of 490 members present at the time of voting absented from voting. (Total strength of house is 506.)
Thus France has become Fourth County of Europe to pass such a resolution since mid-October. Earlier Britain, Spain and Sweden have passed similar resolutions. Portugal and Belgium are expected to follow soon. Parliament of Ireland has also passed nonbinding resolution. European Parliament is also expected to take similar resolution by the second or thired week of December.
Last week members of the European Parliament began debating whether they can agree on a common approach for the European Union's 28 member states. Other legislatures of the Union are expected to take up the measure soon are the European Parliament.
Sweden has the distinction to be first European country in a move which is now being seen as a “wave”. The left-off-center collation Government of Prime Minister Stefan Lofven took a step further and within days of the resolution granted formal diplomatic recognition to “Palestine State” on Oct 30. Ironically Mr. Lofven had to pay a price too for his bold step. Within two months of recognition within three months of coming it in power, his Government was toppled in Parliament on Dec 2, the day French vote, when a small coalition party suddenly voted with Rightist opposition on vote of account. Now fresh elections will be held in March and will be interesting to see how voters of Scandinavian country vote.
The “symbolic vote” in Socialist-led French National Assembly, is likely to raise domestic political pressure on the Government to be more active on the issue. The text introduced by the ruling Socialists "invites the French government to use the recognition of the state of Palestine as an instrument to gain a definitive resolution of the conflict".
Though it is of “nonbinding” nature, yet resolution is important because France is a permanent member of UN Security Council and has veto power. She has become second UNSC member after Britain to do the same.
Lower house of British Parliament (House of Commons) has on Oct 13 passed similar resolution with 274 vote in favor and only 12 against. The motion called on the British government to “recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.”
Israel has expressed her displeasure on these resolutions and argued that such a vote harms the “peace process”. She rightly feels that the vote emboldens Palestinians who are fighting for their right of existence and are resisting against Zionist bullies who want them to surrender unconditionally to the wishes of Israel.
Political analysts feel French and British votes may be symbolic, yet gave moral boost to Palestinians cause. It may be recounted that UN General Assembly has voted in 2012 to recognize a state of Palestine on territories captured by Israel in 1967 illegitimate war. But the United States and European countries did not follow the suit. Recent Israeli aggression against Gaza has certainly moved the European mind. Western politicians have also been frustrated of Israel’s refusal to listen them and continue policy of settlement-building on West Bank.
Leaders of Palestine have welcomed the move and urged Britain and France to act on the parliamentary vote and formally give recognition to “Palestine” like Sweden, as it is in line of their much talked theory of “two Nation” to resolve Middle East dispute.
"We call on the French government to translate its parliament's vote into action," Hanan Ashrawi, a senior leader in the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said in a statement.
"We wish to express our gratitude to the members of the French parliament for adopting a resolution on the side of justice and human dignity," she said. But he reminded, “For peace to prevail, support for the two-state solution must be more than lip service.”
"If members of the international community are serious about the creation of the independent Palestinian state... they must undertake serious and concrete measures to end the occupation and to recognise the State of Palestine."
Last week French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told MPs that the UN Security Council was working on a resolution to re-launch and conclude peace talks. He also expressed hope that "A deadline of two years is the one most often mentioned and the French government can agree with this figure."
Fabius also said France was prepared to host international talks to drive the peace bid forward. "An international conference could be organised. France is prepared to take the initiative on this. And in these talks, recognition [of the Palestinian state] would be an instrument... for the definitive resolution of the conflict," he said.
"If these efforts fail, if this last attempt at a negotiated settlement does not work, then France will have to do its duty and recognise the state of Palestine without delay and we are ready to do that," stressed Fabius, without fixing a deadline for such recognition.
Opposing the move, Christian Jacob, leader of the conservative UMP Party warned, "It will add fuel to the fire in a region that doesn't need that at all.”
Outside the parliament building, several hundred Zionists protested carrying placards reading: “Hamas + Fatah = Terrorist state.”
Israeli officials have said that Europe’s drive to legitimize Palestine is a validation of Hamas’s rocket attacks on settlements inside Israel, and dis-incentivizes Palestinians from making any further “concessions” during future talks.
What type of “concessions” Israel is eying? She wants Palestinians to surrender their right and abandon their commitment to the “right of return” to millions of Arabs who have been driven out of their homeland. April’s negotiations stalled after the Palestinians refused to budge to Israel’s condition. Israel is also insisting on new Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and insists that IDF troops should be stationed permanently in the area, even after the creation of an independent Palestine, while Palestine will have no right to have its own defense forces.
The situation has been further inflamed by Israel's incursion into Gaza this summer, in which over 2,100 Palestinians and more than 60 Israelis died.
Sweden’s recognition of “Palestine State” places the Scandinavian nation among more than 100 others that recognize a Palestinian state. Most Western nations still don't recognize Palestine, and many said they don't plan to follow Sweden. EU member states — such as Hungary and Poland —do recognize a Palestinian state, but they did so before they joined the bloc.(Inputs from media reports)
Dec, 5, 2014