The lower house of France’s Parliament voted on Tuesday to recognize Palestine as a state, reports the New York Times.
France joins several other countries that have voted to recognize a Palestinian state in recent months. Spain, Sweden, Ireland, and Britain all voted to recognize Palestinian statehood earlier this fall. Iceland has recognized Palestine as a state since 2011, and several other European states, including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia have done so since as early as 1988. In total, 135 of 193 United Nations member countries acknowledge Palestine as a state.
The vote is largely symbolic, as it has no binding consequences for France’s relationship to Israel or Palestinian authorities. However, it comes on the heels of increased impatience with negotiations between Israel and Palestinians across Europe as well as an uptick over the summer in anti-Semitic violence. On Monday, the Algemeiner reports, three assailants broke into a private home in a Paris suburbs, where they looted the house and raped a young woman, saying the reason was that the residents were Jewish.
France has the largest Muslim and Jewish populations in Europe, and those two groups have often clashed in recent years. The country has thrown its weight behind a two-state solution for some time, but the timing of the announcement rattled some. France’s Jewish community, which has seen a mass exodus in recent years, expressed concern that criticism of Israeli policy could be harnessed for anti-Semitic purposes. The Israeli embassy in Paris condemned the vote as sending “the wrong message to leaders and people in the region.”
The European Parliament announced last month that it would debate and vote on a resolution to recognize Palestine on December 15 in Strasbourg, France. Belgium plans to vote on a similar measure next week.
Residents of Ramallah greeted the vote with hope in a France 24 video, though many hoped this would be the first move by France to press for further peace talks at the U.N.
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Anna Altman is a writer living in Brooklyn.