France has announced that it will vote in favor of granting Palestine United Nations non-member state status. The General Assembly is set to vote on the matter later this week.
France made the announcement Tuesday, boosting Palestinian efforts to secure greater international recognition.
"This Thursday or Friday, when the question is asked, France will vote yes," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced in the French National Assembly, the lower house of parliament.
Palestinians have launched a watered-down bid for recognition as a non-member state after its full membership status was thwarted by US opposition in the UN Security Council last year. The non-member state status would be similar to the position of Vatican City.
The proposal, which is due to be put to a General Assembly vote at the end of the week, would wholly recognize Palestinian statehood. It could also grant access to bodies such as the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where Palestinians could file complaints against Israel.
The United States says Palestinian statehood must be achieved by negotiation and has called on Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, to return to peace talks with Israel that collapsed in 2010.
"It is only with negotiations between the two sides that we demand immediately without any preconditions that a Palestinian state can become a reality," France's Fabius said.
France, a member of the UN Security Council, had under former President Nicolas Sarkozy promised to support Abbas if he opted for the upgrade option.
Last year, France voted in favor of Palestine becoming a member of UN agency UNESCO. French President Francois Hollande had also promised during campaigning to support recognition of a Palestinian state.
hc/dr (Reuters, dpa)
As the International Paralympics open in Sochi, it's difficult to focus on sports with events in Ukraine drawing Russia and the West into a political standoff. What do athletes and officials think of the situation?
As the Winter Paralympics begin in Sochi, Russian activists are hoping the Games will help combat widespread prejudice. They say people with disabilities have been marginalized in Russia for decades.