France said on Tuesday it would vote in favour of Palestinian non-member status at the United Nations, an important boost in Palestinian efforts to secure greater international recognition.
The Palestinians have lobbied for support from European countries for their bid at watered-down statehood at the U.N. set for two days time. While Israel has lobbied against them, the Palestinians are set for a sure victory in the 193-member world body made up mostly of developing countries long sympathetic to their cause.
“This Thursday or Friday, when the question is asked, France will vote yes,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced in the French National Assembly, the lower house of parliament.
“It is only with negotiations between the two sides that we demand immediately without any preconditions that a Palestinian state can become a reality,” he said.
Palestinian officials keen on solidifying as much European favour as they can in the hours before the vote have indicated they will not immediately seek to accede to the International Criminal Court (ICC), addressing a last international concern.
Israeli, British and U.S. diplomats, apparently realising that they can no longer sway the Palestinians’ in their whole bid, are now seeking guarantees that Palestinians would forego filing complaints against Israel in the court.
Palestinian officials have refused. But, appearing to balance their tone, say the timing and strategy of their eventual ICC accession is a matter for later internal discussion.
“It is our right, and we will not abandon it. We will decide on the proper timing, given our priorities and best interests,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a leading voice of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
“It’s not for any country to get the Palestinians to relinquish their rights. And if Israel is innocent, it has nothing to fear from the court,” she told Reuters.
Britain, which in recent weeks had pushed European countries to abstain on the statehood vote, has requested that Palestinians foreswear applying to the ICC in return for changing the British vote to a “yes”.