NEW YORK — France says it will abstain when the UN Security Council votes on whether to admit Palestine as a full member of the world body. Earlier last week, France voted to approve a similar Palestinian request for membership in UNESCO.
The French Foreign Ministry said Friday that, while Palestine’s quest for statehood is legitimate, it has no chance of getting past the Security Council. That’s because the United States has said it will veto the measure. Germany has made known that it will not support the Palestinian bid, without saying whether it would abstain or vote against it. The ministry also said it was worried that the vote and its failure would unleash a violent reaction.
As a result France has offered to help Palestine elevate its status to that of a non-member state. But Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said that the Palestinians will not accept anything less than full UN membership and do not want an upgrade to an observer state.
Maliki told journalists in Ramallah the Palestinians could have won observer-state status long ago and were not interested in it now. They currently hold the status of observer entity.
“We do not want, after all of these struggles, sacrifices and efforts by the entire Palestinian people, to accept an observer state in the United Nations. We will not accept less than we deserve – a full member state,” he said.
The vote before the Security Council is expected to be held this week or next.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Egyptian television on Oct. 23, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he will never recognize a Jewish state and that capturing Gilad Schalit was a “good thing.” A transcript of the interview was published in an Oct. 31 report by MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute.
“They started talking to me about the ‘Jewish state’ only two years ago, discussing it with me at every opportunity, every forum I went to – Jewish or non-Jewish – asking: ‘What do you think about the ‘Jewish state’?’ I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I will never recognize the Jewishness of the state, or a ‘Jewish state,’” Abbas said.
In response to a question about whether it was “the resistance” that freed more than 1,000 prisoners in the swap for Schalit, Abbas responded, “Hamas kidnapped – or rather, captured – a soldier, and managed to keep him for five years, and that is a good thing. We don’t deny it. On the contrary, it’s a good thing that on a small strip of land, 40 by seven kilometres, they were able to keep him and hide him.”