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 from permanent observer to a “non-member observer state”.
The vote is due to take place later this week.
“This Thursday or Friday, when the question is asked, France will vote yes,” Fabius told the lower house of parliament.
But he cautioned, “It’s only with negotiations between the two sides that we demand immediately, without any preconditions, that a Palestinian state can become a reality.”
Backing international recognition of a Palestinian state was a campaign pledge made by Francois Hollande before he became France’s president earlier this year.
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 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.
An upgrade in status would allow the Palestinians to participate in General Assembly debates and improve their chances of joining UN agencies and the International Criminal Court, although the process would be neither automatic nor guaranteed.
If they are allowed to sign the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, the Palestinians hope to take legal action in the court to challenge Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.
The bid follows an attempt in 2011 by Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority and chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, to join the UN as a full member state, which failed because of a lack of support in the Security Council.