François Mitterrand, the longest-serving French president in history, never ceased to be a passionate advocate of Israel, in contrast to his Gaullist predecessors. But he was also the most committed to Palestinian statehood, and among the earliest to insist on the PLO’s full engagement in the peace process, often at considerable cost to his ties with Israel. By the time Mitterrand left office in 1995, France’s Middle Eastern role had greatly declined, with the United States having assumed full control of the peace process; during the 1980s, however, its contributions had been significant. This article examines Mitterrand’s fourteen-year presidency and the paradoxes of his Middle East policy.
Jean-Pierre Filiuisan associate professor at Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), Middle East Chair. He is the author of several books on the Middle East, including Mitterrand et la Palestine (Fayard, 2005) and Apocalypse in Islam, forthcoming from University of California Press.