Sweden’s newly elected prime minister and a Social Democrat leader Stefan Loefven during his inaugural address in Parliament declared that his government will recognize the Palestinian state, becoming the first European Union member to do so.
The decision was taken in an effort to bolster a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Extending his support to Palestine, he said, “the conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be solved with a two-state solution, negotiated in accordance with international law. A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and the will to co-exist peacefully.”
The Nordic country has an influential voice in EU foreign policy so, the declaration assumes much importance. It may force other countries pay attention to the plight of the Palestinians in the wake of recent war-crimes by Israelis. What Palestinians demand is an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, with its capital in East Jerusalem. While Gaza strip boundaries are clearly defined, the issue pertaining to the territory part that would constitute Palestine in the West Bank and East Jerusalem remains unresolved. It can only be determined via negotiations with Israel on a two-state solution, most European nations believe.
While Washington reacted quickly calling Stockholm’s recognition “premature”, Palestinians welcomed the decision as “courageous”. The most injured party, however, in this process appears to be Israel and is likely to stage strong protest against Sweden tacitly supported by the United States and the EU, which maintain that an independent Palestinian state should only emerge through a negotiated process.
European Members that have recognised a Palestinian state include Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Romania. However, they did so before joining the 28-member bloc. Sweden voted in favour of Palestinian observer status at the United Nations in 2012.