Along with several other European countries, France has strongly opposed America’s decision to relocate its embassy to Israel’s capital. To support its position, Paris has claimed, on the basis of various UN resolutions, that international law militates against recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state. These legal claims, writes Michel Gurfinkiel, are muddled—at best:
Both France and the EU claim that the 1949 cease-fire lines between Israel and Jordan in the Jerusalem area (the “Green Line”) are an international border. If this were indeed the case, those sectors in Jerusalem held by Israel [following the cease-fire] would be internationally recognized Israeli territory; accordingly, Israel would have every right to turn them into its capital, and the United States, or any other country, to locate its embassy there.
Likewise, France and the EU countries [already] recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s de-facto capital, since they routinely visit the Israeli government or the Israeli parliament there. Under international law, a de-facto recognition is as valid as a de-jure recognition. . . .
Paris and Brussels [therefore] point to Security Council Resolution 470, passed on August 20, 1980, which condemned the enactment by Israel’s parliament of a constitutionally binding law enshrining Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and called upon the governments that had already established embassies in that city to withdraw them. Resolution 470 was largely based on the . . . General Assembly’s Resolution 303 of December 9, 1949.
However, Gurfinkiel argues, France refuses to apply the same logic to itself, as evidenced by the case of the island of Mayotte. Mayotte had been a French colony along with the other Comoros Islands, but when the Comoros became independent, its populace repeatedly voted to remain part of France, which to this day treats the island as its own:
The Republic of the Comoros rejected Mayotte’s “secession” and its “continuing occupation” by France. . . . The issue was deferred to the Security Council, which overwhelmingly voted on February 6, 1976 for Mayotte to be “returned” to the Comoros. . . . For the first time ever, the French resorted to their veto powers as a permanent member of the Security Council and blocked the [resolution]. However, they could not prevent the General Assembly from passing a similarly worded resolution a few days later. . . .
Admittedly, there might be more to be said for the continuation of French rule in Mayotte than for the implementation of “decolonization” there. And the French may be right, in many ways, to ignore the United Nations resolutions. . . . However, what the French cannot possibly do is to scold Israel—or the United States—for not abiding by absurd United Nations resolutions while acting exactly like Israel or the United States when it comes to Mayotte. In other words, they cannot [base] their foreign policies on double standards. Nor can the European Union.