France: Peace talks soon or Palestinian state

French President Nicolas Sarkozy says he will support a unilateral declaration of Palestinian independence if peace talks with Israel don’t restart by September, dealing a tough setback to Israel’s campaign to isolate the incoming Palestinian unity government.

The comments published May 5 — similar to a message from Britain a day earlier — suggest Europe may be inching toward a watershed moment, joining those in favor of recognizing Palestine even if there is no peace deal with Israel.

Sarkozy’s comments were published shortly before his meeting with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was touring Europe to rally opposition against the Palestinians. Netanyahu says it is impossible to talk peace with a government that is set to include the Islamic militant group Hamas.

But so far, Netanyahu appears to be making limited progress. Western governments have all called on Hamas to moderate its views, but are also urging Israel to make a new push for peace. — ap