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France upgrades relations with Palestinian Authority

PARIS (WJC)–France and the Palestinian Authority are formally upgrading their diplomatic relations. Until now, the Palestinians have been represented by a ‘delegation’ in France headed by a ‘general delegate’. In future, the General Delegation of Palestine in Paris will be called the Palestinian Mission to France and be led by an ambassador-head of mission, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has announced. “France supports the creation of a viable, independent, democratic Palestinian State living in peace and security alongside Israel by the first quarter of 2012,” Kouchner said in a statement.

Last week, he signaled France’s readiness to engage in direct dialogue with Hamas, “if France receives an official request from the Palestinian Authority.” The Islamist movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, is listed by the United States and Europe as a terrorist organization.

Last week, the US State Department gave the Palestinian office in Washington the right to hoist the Palestinian flag. However, a spokesman for the State Department rejected assertions that the decision meant an upgrading of the mission’s diplomatic status. “There has been no change in the status of the Palestinian mission here in Washington,” Philip Crowley said in response to a report in the Israeli newspaper ‘Haaretz’ that the PLO mission in Washington and its diplomats had been given diplomatic immunity and other privileges.

Crowley added that that his department had approved a Palestinian request to call its mission the General Delegation of the PLO, “which is a name that conforms to how they describe their missions in Europe, Canada and several Latin American countries.”

Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

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