by Zalman Shoval
It must be noted that when it comes to the Iranian nuclear issue, France takes a much more responsible and determined position than the United States. However, it seems that the French believe there is no contradiction between supporting a Palestinian statehood resolution at the U.N.
The impressive victory of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy's center-right Union for a Popular Movement in the recent local elections is a predictor of the Left's expected loss in the upcoming French presidential elections two years from now.
This is not surprising, as not only is the French economy failing to recover under the wishy-washy management of the Left, but also, an analysis of the 2012 election revealed that President François Hollande won thanks to two phenomena that are unlikely to repeat themselves: First, the far Right under the leadership of Marine Le Pen refused to support Sarkozy in the second and determinative round, and second, Muslim voters turned out in droves to vote for the Left.
Due to this, it is possible that Hollande believes that taking pro-Arab stances on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not hurt his standing locally, especially if the positions are consistent with Paris's approach to the issue since 1967. After all, in 1980, France was the principle drafter of the Venice Declaration, issued by the EU's predecessor, the European Economic Community. It called for the acknowledgement of the Palestinian right to self-determination and the Palestine Liberation Organization's right to be involved in the establishment of a Palestinian state.
In 1967, France opposed the British version of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, which was contingent upon Israeli withdrawal from specific territories to determine secure and recognized borders -- instead, the French demanded withdrawal from "all territories." In the same vein, France tried last autumn to initiate a Security Council resolution that would have given new expression to its former demands, regarding both a Palestinian state and its borders, but the attempt was shut down by the United States.
Many articles have appeared of late suggesting that France is looking to renew its initiative, which this time is rumored to include a specific reference to the 1967 "borders" and to Jerusalem as a capital of both states. Not included in the proposal are the cancellation of the Palestinians' claimed right of return and the recognition of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people.
The French apparently believe that after the U.S. administration's talk of "reassessing" the best way to achieve a two-state solution, there is a chance that Washington will allow their proposal to pass this time, even if the U.S. does not directly support it. Still, it seems that Paris has not made a final decision on the move due, among other reasons, to being unsure of the American stance on the matter.
Israel is also unsure, and that is why the majority of its diplomatic and political activities in the near future should focus on ensuring the continued opposition of the United States to France's troubling initiative -- and it is possible that the Iranian issue will help Israel achieve that goal.
Still, France's balance sheet is not entirely in the negative. It must be noted that when it comes to the Iranian nuclear issue, France takes a much more responsible and determined position than the United States. However, it seems that the French believe there is no contradiction between supporting a Palestinian statehood resolution at the U.N. and exercising caution when it comes to Iran -- yet both affect Israel's security and its future.
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