France’s Macron Opens Door to Recognizing Palestinian State

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks while making a joint statement with King of Jordan Abdullah II at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, 16 February 2024.

PARIS (Reuters) – The recognition of a Palestinian state is no longer a taboo for France, President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday, suggesting Paris could make the decision if efforts for a two-state solution stalled because of Israeli opposition.

A unilateral French recognition would do little to change the situation on the ground without true negotiations, but would weigh symbolically and diplomatically.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has voiced opposition to Palestinian sovereignty, saying he will not compromise on full Israeli security control west of Jordan and that this stands contrary to a Palestinian state.

French lawmakers voted in 2014 to urge their government to recognize Palestine, a symbolic move that had little impact on France’s diplomatic stance.

Macron’s comments were the first time a French leader had made such a suggestion and highlighted further impatience among Western leaders as casualties mount in Gaza from Israeli retaliation after an attack on Oct. 7 by Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas that killed 1,200 people, and took 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

“Our partners in the region, notably Jordan, are working on it, we are working on it with them. We are ready to contribute to it, in Europe and in the Security Council. The recognition of a Palestinian state is not a taboo for France,” Macron said alongside Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Paris.

“We owe it to the Palestinians, whose aspirations have been trampled on for too long. We owe it to the Israelis who lived through the greatest anti-Semitic massacre of our century. We owe it to a region that longs to escape the promoters of chaos and the those who sow revenge,” he said.

Macron’s comments are likely aimed at adding pressure on Israel.

Israel’s massive aerial and ground offensive in small, densely populated Gaza has killed more than 28,000 Palestinians, flattened built-up areas and left most of its 2.3 million people homeless.

While most developing countries recognize Palestine as a state, most Western European countries do not, arguing that an independent Palestinian state should emerge from negotiations with Israel.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said earlier this month that part of British policy is to say there will be a time when Britain would look to recognize a Palestinian state, including at the United Nations.

Macron added that an Israeli offensive in Rafah could only lead to an unprecedented humanitarian disaster and would be a turning point in the conflict.