France backed off on its ultimatum to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state if diplomatic efforts fail.
New French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Wednesday withdrew his predecessor’s threats to “automatically” recognize a Palestinian state if his country’s peace initiative fail.
“There is never anything automatic,” Ayrault said. “France will present its initiative to its partners. It will be the first step. There is no prerequisite.”
“What we want, and that is our commitment, is to resume the negotiation process,” he declared.
France’s previous foreign minister, Lauren Fabius, threatened in January to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state if peace talks fail.
Israel says such a move provides an incentive for the Palestinians to refuse to compromise or negotiate directly.
Upon being presented with the French peace initiative in February, Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon, without citing details of the proposal, reiterated Israel’s support for “direct negotiations with the Palestinians,” adding that Jerusalem “opposes attempts to predetermine the outcome of negotiations.”
Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riad Al-Malki last month affirmed that the Palestinians will “never again” engage Israel in direct negotiations towards a final diplomatic resolution to their dispute with Israel.
“We will never go back and sit again in a direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations,” he stated.
The current wave of Palestinian terror, which began mid-September, hit a peak on Tuesday with three attacks within an hour that claimed the life of an American tourist and wounded several more. Earlier in the day, security forces prevented a stabbing attack in Jerusalem.
Anti-Semitism in France has also spiraled; a 13-year-old Jewish boy was beaten brutally on his way to synagogue Saturday. Addressing a Jewish community event Monday evening, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls condemned the increasing attacks against Jews and equated anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.
“Israel is a democracy, a nation that speaks to the world, and France will always be by its side,” Valls stated.