The Arab League's Secretary-General Nabil El-Arabi praised the decision of France's 506-member National Assembly to recognise Palestine as a state, Egypt's state-run news agency MENA reported Wednesday.
Expressing his appreciation to the role of Paris in ending the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict, El-Arabi said the pro-Palestinian vote signifies a "positive step" towards establishing a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital based on the pre-1967 borders.
The head of the pan-Arab organisation hoped that France's government as well as other member-states of the European Union (EU) will recognise the Palestinian state.
He said that earlier recognitions of Palestine by other European countries such as Sweden's government and parliaments of Britain and Spain "undoubtedly put pressure" on Israel to settle the conflict.
Such moves, El-Arabi said, will back the Arab League's efforts in seeking a timetable for ending the Israeli occupation and recognising the Palestinian state. With 339 MPs voting for the motion – and 151 MPs voting against – the vote is nevertheless non-binding to the French government.
France's foreign minister warned that his country will recognise Palestine if diplomacy fails to produce a Palestinian-Israeli agreement within a two-year time limit, AFP reported.
On 23 November, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the French parliament will be committing a "grave mistake" if it decides to recognise Palestine.
"The state of Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people, the only state that we have, and the Palestinians demanding a state do not want to recognise the right to have a state for the Jewish people," Netanyahu was quoted as saying.
On the Palestinian side, Foreign Minister Riad Maliki expressed admiration to France's "continuous calls" to Israel to halt settlement construction, which "violates international law."
He called on the French government to recognise Palestine, and asserted that Israel's settlements "destroy peaceful talks over the two-state solution."
Maliki, in a statement issued on the ministry's Facebook page, praised the French political parties who backed the motion, especially members of the Socialist party, pro-Palestinian civil society organisations and political and academic figures.
"They contributed to creating a French public opinion that supports the Palestinian cause, which made the vote on recognising Palestine a successful one," said the top-Palestinian diplomat.