France has confirmed it intends to vote for Palestinian non-member status at the United Nations later this week.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France had long backed Palestinian ambitions for statehood and would vote yes “out of a concern for coherency”.
The Palestinians are asking the UN General Assembly to upgrade their status frompermanent observer to a “non-member observer state”.
Israel and the US oppose the move, due to be voted on later this week.
They are concerned that the Palestinians are trying to seek full statehood via the UN, rather than through negotiation as set out in the 1993 Oslo peace accords under which the Palestinian Authority was established.
Washington has warned that it could hinder rather than help future dialogue.
France – a permanent member of the UN Security Council – is the first major European country to come out in favour of the move.
Germany is expected to vote against, while the UK’s ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant, said on Tuesday that London remained undecided.
According to AFP news agency, Mr Lyall Grant told reporters the UK thought the Palestinians should delay the application, but was still in talks with the Palestinian Authority and would decide “in due time” how to vote.
Austria says it will also back the Palestinian bid and claims that more than half of the European Union’s 27 member states will vote for the proposal, AFP reports.
Observers say the application is likely win approval in the 193-member UN General Assembly, as it needs only a simple majority to pass. According to the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), more than 130 countries already grant the Palestinians the rank of a sovereign state.
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