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France, Austria offer support for upgrade, while Germany puts on brakes
WASHINGTON – As the dust settles from the recent Hamas-Israeli conflict in Gaza, the question of whether or not to “upgrade” the Palestinian Authority’s observer status at the United Nations to full membership is now under scrutiny.

In contrast to traditional European fashion, in which Europe speaks with one voice though the EU and supports Palestinian bids for statehood, there now are signs opinions are splintering, leading to internal foreign policy tensions.

France, the first EU member to announce its support for the Palestinian “upgrade” on Tuesday, made the move when French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius stated it is a part of France’s “consistent position” regarding the establishment of a Palestinian state.

France was then later joined in the day by Austria’s declaration of support.

However, much like the Euro crisis, Europe has split over the Palestinian statehood issue. On Wednesday, Steffen Seibert, an official spokesman for the German government, said “it is certain that Germany will not vote for such a resolution.”

Sarah Stern, the founder and president of Endowment for Middle East Truth, told WND in an interview Wednesday that the reason Germany has split with the mainstream of Europe and sided with the United States is that the Germans “are very aware of the role that anti-Semitism is playing, especially under Chancellor Merkel.”

She notes that since World War II, the Germans have done much to help battle anti-Semitism and genocide through the education system.

“They realize that genocide does not occur in a vacuum,” she added, noting the Germans are acutely aware of the nature of anti-Semitism inside the Islamist regimes of the Middle East, including the perspectives held by Hamas.

This is in contrast to the French and Austrian positions. Austria has historically divorced itself from the responsibilities of the Holocaust and consequently the dangerous nature of anti-Semitism in Islam, she said.

“France is in support of Palestine, because of the growing Islamic constituency,” said Stern.

She added that it could be a move inside France, on the part of Socialist President Francois Hollande, to help tamp down French-Islamic tensions and appeal to a growing domestic constituency. In France, where the Islamic immigrant population is over 10 percent, it is politically “easy to scapegoat Israel.”

Upgrading the Palestinian Authority to official member state status would allow the Palestinians greater opportunities to join the International Criminal Court and other U.N. agencies, and grant the Palestinian Authority greater international legal power over Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

The debate is expected to intensify as the issue of Palestinian statehood itself is scheduled to be brought forth at the U.N. General Assembly. Opinion will be hotly divided between a French-supported Organization for Islamic Cooperation voting bloc at the U.N. and an American-German-Israeli opposition.

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Founded in 2005, The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) is a Washington, D.C. based think tank and policy center with an unabashedly pro-America and pro-Israel stance. EMET (which means truth in Hebrew) prides itself on challenging the falsehoods and misrepresentations that abound in U.S. Middle East policy.

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