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Palestinian membership of UNESCO

Palestinian membership of UNESCO

Published on November 2, 2011
Statements by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs Spokesman

Paris, October 31, 2011

On 21 September, President Sarkozy presented to the United Nations General Assembly France’s vision on making progress towards peace, towards a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Regarding the United Nations, President Sarkozy had proposed that we should work on a General Assembly resolution that would allow Palestine to enhance its status within the UN by becoming a non-member observer state. We continue to believe that such a resolution would constitute legitimate progress towards the recognition of a Palestinian state, without causing – as we fear might happen as a result of an initiative at the Security Council – a major diplomatic confrontation, which would lead to deadlock.

The question today was whether the international community would say yes or no to Palestine’s application to join UNESCO. Of course, we would have preferred this question to be asked after the issue had been dealt with by the General Assembly in New York. But as things stand, we must shoulder our responsibilities and give a substantive response. And basically France says yes, Palestine has the right to become a member of UNESCO, an organization which aims to work towards the widespread development of a culture of peace within the international community. Such an accession to UNESCO is fully consistent with the United Nations General Assembly initiative proposed by President Sarkozy.

France has always been, is now and will in future remain on the side of peace. She supports the Palestinian leaders, in particular the President of the Palestinian Authority, in their efforts to establish a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel. President Sarkozy stressed this on 21 September to the United Nations General Assembly: if anyone, anywhere in the world, were to threaten the existence of Israel, France would immediately and wholeheartedly stand by Israel’s side. As we keep saying, the goal of two states living in peace and security will be achieved, first and foremost, through negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. We urge both parties to make the necessary compromises so that the negotiations can resume straight away./.

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