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France puts case to recognize Palestinian state.

Summary: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will hold talks on Monday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy following the recent French suggestion that the international community might recognize a

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will hold talks on Monday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy following the recent French suggestion that the international community might recognize a Palestinian state before its borders had been fixed, in order to break a stalemate in Middle East peacemaking.

Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner floated the idea in a newspaper interview, published hours before Abbas arrived in Paris on Sunday.

Kouchner told Journal du Dimanche: "One can imagine a Palestinian state being rapidly declared and immediately recognized by the international community, even before negotiating its borders. I would be tempted by that." French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, on a visit to Jordan, said Kouchner's proposal showed France's willingness "to accelerate the (peace) process, to take initiatives that will kick off negotiations, which are taking too long to start".

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat welcomed the remarks, while an Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, described any such proposal as a "mirage".

"We consider that the time has come for European Union states to announce their recognition of the state of Palestine on the '67 borders," Erekat told Reuters, referring to the borders of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as they stood on the eve of the 1967 Middle East war.

Kouchner acknowledged, however, in his remarks that even other European states would have reservations about such a proposal.

An Israeli official told Reuters: "Prime Minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) believes peace can only be achieved through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians when the leaderships on both sides show courageous leadership."

He added: "Anything else is a mirage because it won't lead to peace."

The Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership said in November it would launch a diplomatic push to seek U.N. Security Council backing for the creation of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.

It said the initiative, sharply criticized by Israel, would not be a unilateral declaration of statehood but would aim to secure international support for the eventual creation of a state based on the 1967 borders.

Many observers, including Palestinians, dismissed the plan as no more than a symbolic gesture, pointing out that it would certainly run into a U.S. veto in any vote at the Security Council.

Peace talks were halted more than a year ago over Israel's war with Gaza, and have not resumed. Abbas is demanding that Israel first impose a complete freeze on building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israel announced in November a partial, 10-month freeze on settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

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Publication:Al Arabiya (Saudi Arabia)
Date:Feb 21, 2010
Words:456
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