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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

French Lawmakers Want Hollande to 'Recognize Palestine, Leave Like Obama'

French Lawmakers Want Hollande to 'Recognize Palestine, Leave Like Obama'Palestinians and foreigners march towards Israel's controversial separation wall between the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah and the Israeli settlement of Modiin Ilit during a demonstration against settlements in the area, on February 17, 2017
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In the follow-up to the open letter from French lawmakers to President Hollande, where they called on their leader to recognize the state of Palestine, Sputnik France sat down with Socialist Party deputy Gilbert Roger, who penned the letter, to talk about what he actually expects from the move.

On Sunday, French Newspaper Le Journal Du Dimanche published an open letter from French lawmakers to President Hollande, where they called on their leader to recognize the state of Palestine.
The lawmakers argued that Paris must live up to the very principle of a two-state solution it had been advocating by allowing the state of Palestine to exist in order to put Palestinians on an equal footing with Israelis in reconciliation talks.
"Mr. President, rise to the challenge and do not miss your rendez-vous with history by immediately recognizing the state of Palestine," said the joint letter, which was signed by 154 lawmakers from both houses of the French parliament.
“France must demonstrate its willingness to overcome the stalemate in this conflict by solemnly reaffirming, in the name of the inalienable right to self-determination, that the Palestinian people are entitled to a state," it read.
The letter came after Hollande reaffirmed his country’s commitment to a two-state solution after US President Donald Trump told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he would be open to a one-state solution, breaking decades of US policy in support of a two-state solution.
"I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” said Trump. “I'm very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one," Trump said at his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu earlier in February.
However, last Wednesday French President Francois Hollande reiterated that his country is committed to a two-state plan as the only solution for the Middle East conflict.
In January, France held an international conference in Paris on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that was attended by more than 70 nations. The Palestinian leadership welcomed the French initiative but Netanyahu called it a waste of time.
Notably, neither Israel nor the Palestinians attended the conference.
Meanwhile, Sputnik France sat down with Socialist Party deputy Gilbert Roger, who penned the letter, to talk about what he actually expects from the move.
"I was the author of the resolutions adopted by the National Assembly and the Senate (lower and upper houses of the French parliament). We were told that France has undertaken certain diplomatic steps. We had a chance to see it for ourselves in the example of the international conference in Paris on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," he told Sputnik.
"However we have to admit that it has not brought any tangible results. Israel refused not only to take part in the conference, but also to simply receive a copy of the final protocol. Mahmoud Abbas (the President of the Palestinian National Authority) agreed to pick up the protocol as he agreed to that initiative," he further added.
The politician said that the recognition of the Palestinian state will enable the United Nations to further work on what are called "the occupied territories", which, from a legal perspective, are different from the legally claimed territories.
Gilbert Roger elaborated that what they expect from President Hollande is to recognize Palestine as a state, which has already been recognized by 138 countries. French executive authority is able to do that, he added.
"Our Russian colleagues have made an attempt to serve as intermediaries. I know that they are making huge efforts to bring Fatah (formerly the Palestinian National Liberation Movement and not a Palestinian nationalist political party) and the largest faction of the confederated multi-party Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Hamas (Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement) together on a healthy basis," he told Sputnik.
However he further noted that such efforts are not moving anywhere forward. It is high time to move on to something else: the French recognition of Palestine, he said.
Gilbert Roger also said that he wants President Hollande to leave "gallantly", like President Obama, who was able to do certain things before he left earlier in January, including the UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory.
Back in December, the US abstained during the UN Security Council's vote on the resolution, which stated that "Israel’s establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity, constituting a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the vision of two states living side-by-side in peace and security, within internationally recognized borders."
President Hollande's term comes to an end in May.

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