France is upgrading its diplomatic relations with the Palestinian Territories to back international efforts toward creating a Palestinian state, the French foreign minister said Monday.
Bernard Kouchner said the Palestinian diplomatic representation in France — which was called a "delegation" and headed by a "general delegate" — will henceforth be considered a "mission" headed by an "ambassador, chief of mission."
Similar upgradings are under discussion in Spain and Greece, Deputy Palestinian Foreign Minister Ibrahim Khreisheh said .
He said the United States made a similar move last week, upgrading the Palestinian presence from a PLO media office in Washington to a Mission of Palestine in Washington. The change enables the Palestinians to raise their flag there for the first time, Khreisheh said.
The Palestinian Authority has 58 full-fledged embassies in Arab, Islamic and African countries, as well as countries in Eastern Europe, Khreisheh said.
"France supports the creation of a viable, democratic and independent Palestinian state side by side with Israel by the first quarter of 2012," Kouchner said. "2010 must see a decisive push towards peace. If we wait, we will take a step back in our chance for (it)."
The French decision would help lay the basis for future Palestinian institutions and guarantee the credibility of an independent state, Kouchner added.
France raises Palestinian diplomatic status
France is upgrading its diplomatic relations with the Palestinian Territories to back international efforts toward creating a Palestinian state.