SWEDEN TO RECOGNISE STATE OF PALESTINE

New Swedish PM says Israel-Palestine conflict can only be solved with a two-state solution with mutual recognition [Photo: Al Jazeera/Reuters]
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said during his inaugural address in parliament that Israel-Palestine conflict can only be solved with a two-state solution with mutual recognition. [Photo: www.foxnews.com/abcnews.go.com]
Stockholm, 10 Dhulhijja 1435/4 October 2014 (MINA) – Sweden may become the first member of the European Union to recognise the state of Palestine, after the Nordic country’s new centre-left government said it will do so.

“The conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be solved with a two-state solution, negotiated in accordance with international law,” Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said on Friday, during his inaugural address in parliament.

“A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence. Sweden will therefore recognise the
state of Palestine,” Aljazeera quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting Saturday.

The UN General Assembly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine in 2012 but the European Union and most of its 28 members, have yet to give official recognition.

Other EU members such as Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have recognised Palestine before joining the bloc. If the centre-left government fulfils its plans, Sweden would be the first country to recognise Palestine while enjoying EU membership

Major boost

For the Palestinians, Sweden’s move will be a major boost. It may draw similar steps from other countries, at a time when peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis, on which the future of the Palestinian state hinges, are looking bleak.

In response to Sweden’s announcement, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters it would be “premature” to recognise a Palestinian state.

“We certainly support Palestinian statehood, but it can only come through a negotiated outcome, a resolution of final status issues and mutual recognitions by both parties.”

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Meanwhile, senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat applauded the decision, describing it as “courageous and remarkable.”

“We salute the announcement by the Swedish prime minister,” Erakat said in the West Bank administrative capital of Ramallah. “We hope that all countries of the European Union will take the same courageous and remarkable decision… as there is no reason not to recognise the Palestinian state.”

Sweden’s former centre-right government would not recognise Palestine as the Palestinian authorities did not control their territory.

The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, with its capital in East Jerusalem. While Gaza’s boundaries are clearly defined, the precise territory of what would constitute Palestine in the West Bank and East Jerusalem will only be determined via negotiations with Israel on a two-state solution, negotiations which are currently suspended.

Israel-Palestine conflict can only be solved with a two-state solution with mutual recognition

The new Swedish prime minister, Stefan Löfven (centre), presents his new government in Stockholm. (Photo: www.theguardian.com)
The new Swedish prime minister, Stefan Löfven (centre), presents his new government in Stockholm. (Photo: www.theguardian.com)

Meanwhile according to The Guardian, Sweden’s new centre-left government has indicated that it intends to formally recognise the state of Palestine – making it the first major European country to do so.

The move is significant because it comes amid a diplomatic push by Palestinians at the UN to secure a security council resolution setting a two-year deadline for Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territories and East Jerusalem by November 2016.

Separately on 13 October British MPs will be asked to vote on a motion – put forward by the Labour MP Grahame Morris – calling on the UK to recognise Palestine.

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The announcement by the Swedish prime minister, Stefan Löfven, will be seen as a significant boost to the recent Palestinian campaign to push forward and seek unilateral recognition following the collapse of the US-sponsored peace process earlier this year.

Recognition by Sweden would be seen as a significant diplomatic blow to Israel, which was warned by the White House last week that it risked alienating “even its closest allies” if it continued with settlement building.

The Swedish announcement came as the EU joined Washington in harshly criticising last week’s announcement by Israel of planning approval for 2,600 new housing units in a settlement across the green line.

Calling the decision “highly detrimental” to efforts for Israeli-Palestinian peace, the EU’s diplomatic service said: “This represents a further highly detrimental step that undermines prospects for a two-state solution and calls into question Israel’s commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.”

European diplomats have long warned the government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that it risks a climate of increasing international isolation in the absence of meaningful peace negotiations and while settlement building continues on land seized by Israel in 1967.

The UN general assembly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine in 2012 but the European Union and most EU countries have yet to give official recognition.

With Sweden’s reputation as an honest broker in international affairs and with an influential voice in EU foreign policy, the decision may well make other countries sit up and pay attention at a time when the Palestinians are threatening unilateral moves towards statehood.

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However, there is likely to be strong criticism of Sweden from Israel, as well as from the United States and the EU, which maintain that an independent Palestinian state should only emerge through a negotiated process.

Within the EU, some countries, such as Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, recognise Palestine, but they did so before joining the 28-member bloc.

If the centre-left government fulfils its plans, Sweden would be the first country to recognise Palestine while being a member of the European Union.

The Social Democrats and Greens hold a minority of seats in parliament and the incoming centre-left government is likely to be one of Sweden’s weakest for decades.

The former centre-right government would not recognise Palestine as the Palestinian authorities did not control their territory.

The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, with its capital in East Jerusalem. While Gaza’s boundaries are clearly defined, the precise territory of what would constitute Palestine in the West Bank and East Jerusalem will only be determined via negotiations with Israel on a two-state solution, negotiations which are currently suspended. (T/P3/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)