November 4, 2011 / 1:32 PM / 6 years ago

France to abstain in vote on Palestinian U.N. seat

PARIS (Reuters) - France would abstain in a vote on a Palestinian request for full membership of the United Nations, the French foreign ministry said on Friday.

While France regarded the quest for Palestinian statehood as legitimate, the request for full U.N. membership had no chance of being accepted, notably because of U.S. opposition, the ministry said in an electronic media briefing.

“That is why, during a (U.N.) admissions committee meeting, France’s permanent representative at the United Nations said France would have no choice but to abstain in the Security Council,” it said.

A vote was possible any time from November 11 onwards, it said.

The ministry reiterated a French proposal that observer status be granted as an intermediary response and urging the pursuit of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

France was among the countries that voted last Monday to grant the Palestinians full membership of the United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO, based in Paris.

The Palestinians had gone to UNESCO as a first step in their quest for statehood recognition in the over-arching U.N. system in September, which the Palestinians formally requested in September.

On Thursday, diplomats assembled at the G20 summit meeting in Cannes had suggested that several countries, including France, would abstain in a vote on that request.

The Palestinians’ foreign minister said on Thursday that they will not accept anything less than full U.N. membership and do not want an upgrade to an observer state in the world body.

The Palestinian bid for statehood recognition in the U.N. system has drawn fierce criticism and sanctions from the United States and from Israel, which in 1967 captured territory the Palestinians now seek for an independent country.

Both the United States and Israel say the Palestinian push in the United Nations is unilateral and an attempt to bypass peace talks, whose resumption Abbas has conditioned on an Israeli freeze of settlement activity in occupied territory.

The Palestinians say those negotiations have failed to bring them closer to the independent state they seek in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, and that it’s time try a different approach.

Reporting By Alexandria Sage; Editing by Brian Love and Mark Heinrich

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