Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sweden to recognize State of Palestine

Palestinian protesters wave the national
flag in front of the Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit
on Sept. 26, 2014 (AFP/File Musa al-Shaer)
Ma'an News Agency | Oct 3, 2014

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The prime minister of the Kingdom of Sweden on Friday said that the country would recognize the State of Palestine, becoming the first major Western European state to do so.

Prime Minister Setfan Loefven said during his inaugural address that "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 a will to peaceful coexistence. Sweden will therefore recognize the state of Palestine," he added.

Although more than 134 countries around the world currently recognize the State of Palestine, the majority of Western Europe and North American have refused to do so out of deference to Israel.

Sweden's shift in position, however, suggests the possibility that others in Western Europe may follow suit, particularly given widespread anger at Israel's massive assault on Gaza over the summer that left more than 2,000 dead.

Loefven's Social Democratic-Green Party coalition -- which formed a minority government on Friday -- is more supportive of demands for a Palestinian state than the previous centre-right administration.

Both the Greens and the Social Democrats opposed a decision by former foreign minister Carl Bildt to not give Swedish support to a UN vote recognising Palestine.

The Social Democrats, the largest party in the Swedish parliament, wrote in their election manifesto that "Israel's war crimes must be investigated and the occupation of Gaza lifted".

The party added that "Sweden and the rest of the world must actively support its (Palestine's) work towards reconciliation."

The prime minister did not specify whether the policy would be submitted to a vote in parliament.

AFP contributed to this report.

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