JERUSALEM, October 31 2014:Â The Swedish government on Thursday officially recognized a state of Palestine, as the new prime minister, Stefan Lofven, ignoredÂ Israeli protests and followed through on a pledge he made at his inauguration this month.
The Swedish Foreign Ministry posted a message on Twitter on Thursday announcing the move and saying the Swedish government â€œexpressed hopes for peaceful coexistence between #Israel and #Palestine.â€
Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said that Sweden hoped its â€œexcellent cooperationâ€ with Israel would continue and that the decision would be met in Jerusalem â€œin a constructive way,â€ The Associated Press reported.
The Palestinian leadership welcomed the move, which came amid growing criticism and frustration in Europe and the United States of Israeli settlement policies in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of Israel said in a statement Thursday that the decision by the Swedish government to recognize a Palestinian state was unfortunate and would strengthen radical elements and Palestinian recalcitrance.
â€œThe Swedish government must understand that relations in the Middle East are more complex than one of Ikeaâ€™s flat-pack pieces of furniture, and would do well to act with greater sensitivity and responsibility,â€ he said.
Israel said it was recalling its ambassador to Sweden to Jerusalem for consultation, according to Paul Hirschson, the Foreign Ministryâ€™s deputy spokesman. â€œItâ€™s an expression of a certain level of upset from our side,â€ he said.
In his inaugural address Oct. 3, Mr. Lofven told Parliament that a two-state solution was the only way to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. â€œSweden will therefore recognize the state of Palestine,â€ he said.
Malta and Cyprus are the only other West European countries to have recognized a Palestinian state. Britainâ€™s Parliament passed a nonbinding resolution this month to give diplomatic recognition to a Palestinian state, although the government of Prime Minister David Cameron opposes recognition.
Romain Nadal, a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry, said this month that France â€œwill have to recognize Palestine,â€ although he did not specify when such a move might take place.
Source: NY Times