Sweden’s new government is set to recognize the State of Palestine, in a move that will make it the first member of the European Union to do so.
During his inaugural speech Friday, Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said “the conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be solved with a two-state solution, negotiated in accordance with international law.”
“The two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to co-exist peacefully. Sweden will therefore recognize the state of Palestine,” he added.
He didn’t say when or how that would happen.
Several European countries including Hungary, Slovakia and Romania have given their recognition of Palestine as a state but did so before they became members of the EU.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is set to ask the UN Security Council to vote on a resolution that would seek an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines in a timeframe of two years.
In November 2012, the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status to “non-member observer state.”
PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki welcomed Lofven’s announcement and called on other European Union countries to follow suit.
“In the name of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership, we thank and salute the Swedish position,” Malki said in a statement.
He said the only other Western European countries that have recognized a Palestinian state are Malta and Cyprus. Some Eastern European countries did so during the Cold War.
US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the US looks forward to working with the new government of Sweden — a close partner — but called international recognition of a Palestinian state “premature.”
“We believe that the process is one that has to be worked out through the parties to agree on the terms of how they’ll live in the future of two states living side-by-side,” she said.
Lofven has built a left-leaning minority government of Social Democrats and Greens after winning Parliamentary elections last month.
He tapped former European Commissioner Margot Wallstrom to be foreign minister, while Magdalena Andersson becomes finance minister and Peter Hultqvist will head the Defense Ministry. All are Social Democrats.
Asa Romson, leader of the Greens, the junior coalition partner, became vice-prime minister and minister for climate and environment.
The coalition is expected to struggle to push its agenda through Parliament.