Swedish PM: ‘It was time’ to recognise Palestine

Swedish PM: 'It was time' to recognise Palestine
Stefan Löfven answers questions after a party leader debate on Wednesday. Photo: Claudio Bresciani / TT
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has given his full backing to Sweden’s decision to recognise Palestine despite strong criticism both from Israel and opposition leaders.
“I want to be clear about this. We stand by it. It was time to take that step,” Löfven told TT on Sunday. 
“But that doesn’t mean that we are against Israel, it means that we are in favour of a two-state solution where Israel is able to live in peace, and where Palestinians have their own country in which they can live in peace.” 
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström last week cancelled a planned visit to Israel after the Israeli government refused to offer her a meeting, either with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. 
She this week accused the Israelis of employing a “harsh and unforgiving tone” and "a rhetoric that crosses all lines”. 
Anna Kinberg Batra, the leader of the opposition Moderate Party said the move to recognise Palestine had been “unfortunate and unexpected”., 
“It was a surprising how the question was handled at the start of autumn," she said. "It’s important not to worsen Swedish relations with countries we want to deal with. The risk is that that’s what’s going to happen now.” 
The leader of the Liberal Party, Jan Björklund, said on Thursday that believed that Sweden's recognition of Palestine had been premature and was "neither wise nor constructive".
Löfven said he still hoped relations with the Israel could be repaired. 
“We are friends of Israel,” he said. “There’s a lot we can work on together.”