Abbas and Hollande at the Élysée Palace in Paris, September 2014.
Gonzalo Fuentes / Courtesy Reuters

Tomorrow, the French National Assembly is set to vote on a resolution recognizing a Palestinian state, a step already taken by the Swedish government, the British and Spanish parliaments, and the Irish Senate. Yet even with several other European countries looking to do the same, a “yes” vote would have little practical effect: it would be nonbinding, dismissed by the United States, and rejected by Israel. If such formalities really did matter, then a Palestinian state, which 134 countries have recognized, would already exist.

How the National Assembly votes and how the government of French President François Hollande responds does matter in other ways—although not so much for Israel or Palestine as for France. The country is home to the largest Jewish population in Europe and the third largest in the world after Israel and the United States. Anti-Semitic attacks almost doubled in the first half of 2014 compared with

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  • RORY MILLER is Professor of Government at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar.
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