• Sweden's news in English
Palestine recognized as state by Sweden
Sweden's Foreign Minister is Margot Wallström. Photo: TT

Palestine recognized as state by Sweden

The Local · 30 Oct 2014, 11:30

Published: 30 Oct 2014 08:30 GMT+01:00
Updated: 30 Oct 2014 11:30 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
Speaking at a press conference, Margot Wallström said:
"We are not picking sides. We're choosing the side of the peace process".
She added:
"The government believes that the international law criteria for the recognition of the State of Palestine has been met. There is a territory, there is a population and there is a government".
The UN General Assembly approved the recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state in 2012, but the European Union and most western countries do not refer to Palestine as a separate state. 
Wallström pre-empted her announcement in a debate article in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper published on Thursday morning.
"It's an important step. Some will say that the decision came too early. I'm afraid that it came too late," she wrote, adding that she "hopes that this will show the way for others."
"The aim of Sweden's recognition is to help reach the goal of Israel and Palestine co-existing side by side in peace."

Sweden's new Foreign Minister Margot Wallström. Photo: TT
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas hailed the decision, his spokesman said. 
"President Abbas welcomes Sweden's decision," Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP, adding that the Palestinian leader described the move as "brave and historic".
"All countries of the world that are still hesitant to recognise our right to an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, with east Jerusalem as its capital, (should) follow Sweden's lead," his spokesman quoted him as saying.

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, seen here voting in a municipal election. Photo: TT
Abu Rudeina said the decision was a positive step following months of soaring tensions in occupied east Jerusalem, where Palestinians have clashed almost daily with Israeli police and where Israel has recently pushed ahead with plans to build another 3,600 settler homes, drawing international condemnation.
"This decision comes as a response to Israeli measures in Jerusalem," he said.
Sweden's decision was initially announced by new Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Löfven as he revealed his new centre-left cabinet in early October. But has been met with strong criticism from Israel.

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. Photo: TT
On Thursday Israel's top diplomat said the Swedish government's recognition of a Palestinian state was "deplorable" and could undermine efforts to resolve the conflict.
"The decision of the Swedish government to recognise a Palestinian state is a deplorable decision which only strengthens extremist elements and Palestinian rejectionism," Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a statement.
"It is a shame that the Swedish government chose to take this declarative step which causes a lot of harm and offers no advantage," he said.
"The Swedish government must understand that relations in the Middle East are a lot more complex than the self-assembly furniture of IKEA and that they have to act with responsibility and sensitivity."

Children in Gaza last month. Photo: TT
There has been intense fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip in recent months, with some of the deadliest violence in years. But there is currently a ceasefire between the two sides.
Story continues below…
Seven EU members have already recognized a Palestinian state -- Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Romania. Non-EU member Iceland is the only other western European nation to have done so.
Palestinian groups in Sweden have welcomed the decision. Earlier this month, Nael Touqan, Chairman of Palestinian Association of Stockholm told The Local:
"Sweden has great respect in Europe so we hope this means that other nations will follow its lead," he added. "This is the only way to pressure Israel".
But observers said it was too early to tell if the Swedish step would prompt other countries to make similar moves.
"It's really hard to say how many countries will actually take the plunge and follow Sweden," said Michael Schulz, an expert on the Middle East and conflict issues at the University of Gothenburg told AFP.
"For the EU to recognise Palestine, that would require all member states to agree, so it's unlikely," he said, estimating that Stockholm's decision "shouldn't change much" over the short term.
"We must see how Israel will react if they will continue their policy of settlement or if they will instead be more cautious."
Sweden's government has said it will increase bilateral aid to the middle east over the next five years.

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Creepy clown messes with the wrong dog walker in Sweden
Not the clown in the story. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A dog helped its owner fight off a creepy clown chasing the pair in southern Sweden.

A million Swedes are digitally excluded: report
How should Sweden bridge the digital divide? Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Tech-savvy Swedes? Perhaps not. A new study suggests that at least a million of its residents feel the pain of the digital divide.

Malmö's 19th Swedish title sets Champions hopes alight
Malmö fans celebrating after the match. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

Malmö FF have their eyes set on the Champions League after winning the Swedish league for the 19th time.

What's on in Sweden
Five great autumn events in Sweden this week
Jazz in northern Sweden. Photo: Umeå Jazz Festival

Food, music, movies and more food. What better way of helping yourself forget that the days are getting shorter and colder?

Here's how slow Sweden's high-speed trains are getting
A Swedish SJX2000 high speed train. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The high-speed rail journey between the three biggest Swedish cities is about to get longer.

The Local List
12 Swedish words with just awesome literal translations
A filthy-minded lobster, i.e. a snuskhummer. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB scanpix/TT

One of our favourite things about the Swedish language is its wonderful compound words, which range from being utterly bizarre to making perfect sense.

US election
Donald Trump won't get new Ericsson head's vote
Trump pictured at a campaign rally in Florida. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

The new Swedish-American boss of telecoms giant Ericsson has revealed he will not vote for the Republican nominee in the forthcoming US presidential election.

Swedes named fourth most gender equal in the world
A file photo of men and women pushing prams in Stockholm. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Sweden has closed 81 percent of its overall gender gap according to the World Economic Forum.

Sweden: Russian warships in the Baltic 'worrying'
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

Two Russian warships equipped with long-range missiles have entered the Baltic Sea after passing Denmark.

Why businesses are worried about Sweden's drone ban
A drone filming in Stockholm. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

The Local investigates what Sweden's new drone ban could mean for businesses in the country.

Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available