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France eyes two-year deadline for Mideast peace
"At the United Nations, we are working with our partners to adopt a Security Council resolution to relaunch and conclude talks. A deadline of two years is the one most often mentioned and the French government can agree with this figure," Laurent Fabius told MPs. The Palestinians are planning to formally submit to the UN Security Council a draft resolution calling for an Israeli withdrawal from all occupied territory in 2016. "An international conference could be organised, France is prepared to take the initiative on this and in these talks, recognition would be an instrument ... for the definitive resolution of the conflict," he said. Fabius did not specify when this conference, also mentioned late Thursday by French President Francois Hollande, might take place, nor did he say who might be invited. He said France hoped to bring together all the main players in the conflict, citing the European Union, the Arab League and all the permanent members of the UN Security Council. "If these efforts fail. If this last attempt at a negotiated settlement does not work, then France will have to do its duty and recognise the state of Palestine without delay and we are ready to do that," stressed Fabius. The minister has frequently said that France would recognise a Palestinian state "When the time comes", arguing that a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict logically implies recognition of a Palestinian state. Earlier Friday, French MPs held a two-hour debate on a non-binding, symbolic motion on whether to recognise Palestine. The vote comes hot on the heels of a similar resolution approved by British lawmakers on October 13, Spanish MPs on November 18 and the formal recognition by Sweden on October 30.

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