[Published 13 February 2016]
France’s extraordinary decision to try and resurrect the dead two-state solution smacks of:
1. Abject surrender to PLO demands for unilateral recognition of a Palestinian State outside the parameters defined by Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap.France made its intentions clear in the following statement released on 30 January by Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius:
2. A desperate attempt to appease France’s 4.7 million Muslims as they protest against the continuing state of emergency declared after the series of co-ordinated attacks by Islamic State in Paris last November that saw 130 people murdered and 368 wounded.
“France will engage in the coming weeks in the preparation of an international conference bringing together the parties and their main partners, American, European, Arab, notably to preserve and make happen the two-state solution”
Mr Fabius issued this veiled threat on France 24:
“If this attempt to achieve a negotiated solution reaches a dead end, we will take responsibility and recognize the Palestinian state,”
Respected commentator Aaron David Miller has already delivered his verdict on the proposed International conference in a scathing twitter:
“Another bone headed French play.Convene a peace conference doomed to fail; then recognize a faux Palestinian state”
In its Spring 2015 Global Attitudes Survey the Pew Research Centre found that 76% of France’s population had favourable views of France’s Muslim population whilst 24% had unfavourable views.
France no doubt hopes that calling this pro-Arab international conference will stem any growth in the anti-Muslim view in the next Pew Survey. Given the violent ongoing Muslim demonstrations such hope is doomed.
France’s Muslim population far exceeds that of the 475000 Jewish population whose number has been dramatically declining following 851 anti-Semitic incidents recorded in 2014 and 806 attacks in 2015.
Jews leaving France for Israel have also doubled and then doubled again since 2010 - reaching 8,000 last year - up from 1,900 in 2011. Such is the Jewish exodus that French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was recently forced to acknowledge that French Jewry is in crisis and that France must work with:
“all its might to protect Jews”
France’s planned international conference and threatened recognition of a Palestinian State will have the opposite effect - ensuring an ever increasing number of French Jews will be fleeing to safer havens.
Any unilateral French declaration recognising Palestinian Statehood will only exacerbate the continuation of the 100 years old Jewish-Arab conflict - not contribute to its resolution.
Such a declaration could represent a complete turnaround in France’s stated foreign policy:
“France considers that the conflict can only be resolved by the creation of an independent, viable and democratic Palestinian State living in peace and security alongside Israel.”
Given the current authoritarian and undemocratic division of rule between two organisations pledged to wipe Israel off the map - the PLO in Areas “A” and “B” in Judea and Samaria and Hamas in Gaza - France needs to ensure that any State of Palestine it recognises is indisputably democratic.
France is being politically naive to believe the failed negotiations conducted over 23 years between Israel and the PLO can be revived.
An international conference aimed at jumpstarting negotiations to resolve sovereignty in Judea and Samaria between Israel and Jordan - not Israel and the PLO - would have made far more sense.
However the only winners from France’s proposed conference will be the airlines, the 5 star hotels, 3 hat Michelin restaurants, vignerons and limousine car companies catering to the needs of the delegations flying in for a talkfest that will go nowhere.
Hopefully the Islamic State will not spoil the politicians’ party.