Sweden's New Government Will Recognize Palestinian State

Sweden's new prime minister Stefan Löfven says the country will recognize Palestine as a state, in a sharp break from the rest of the E.U.
Posted at 7:55 PM, Oct 03, 2014

Palestine has found an unlikely new ally in its quest for international recognition. The head of Sweden's newly formed government says his country intends to recognize the state of Palestine.

Sweden's new Prime Minister Stefan Löfven was sworn in and unveiled his new center-left cabinet Friday. During his inauguration speech, Löfven told Parliament "The conflict between Israel can only be solved with a two-state solution ... Sweden will therefore recognize the state of Palestine."

Palestine is currently recognized as a state by over 130 countries, but it's only regarded as an non-member "observer state" by the U.N. Several major world powers, including the U.S., do not recognize Palestine as a state.

Löfven's announcement comes one week after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made another bid for statehood recognition before the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Although some E.U. member states supported Palestinian statehood before joining the bloc, EUobserver notes Sweden will become the first country to recognize Palestine while being an E.U. member.

The decision is likely to draw harsh condemnation from the U.S., Israel, and many other E.U. nations, who insist a Palestinian state can only emerge through negotiation with Israel. So, what prompted this announcement?

It might have something to do with Israel's recent settlement expansions: both the U.S. and the E.U. have rebuked Israel for its plan to construct 2,600 homes on contested ground in East Jerusalem. 

And the recent Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas which killed over 2,000 people, a majority of whom were Palestinian, has also reignited the debate about Palestinian statehood. (Video via Channel 4)

And while it's unclear exactly why Löfven decided to take a stance on this issue during his inaugural address, it could be seen as a show of this new administration's progressiveness.

Swedish paper The Local points out Löfven also touted his "feminist" cabinet — composed of 12 men and 12 women — in the same speech in which he mentioned Palestine.

Sweden's new government was assembled after Löfven ousted the Conservative incumbent in September. The new coalition now has until November to pass a budget, or lose power.

This video includes images from Getty Images, Night w / CC BY SA 3.0.