Sweden recognizes Palestinian state
RAMALLAH - Agence France-Presse
AFP PhotoSweden on Oct. 30 officially recognized the state of Palestine, Stockholm's foreign minister said, less than a month after the government announced its intention to make the controversial move.
"Today the government takes the decision to recognise the state of Palestine," Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said in a statement published in the Dagens Nyheter daily.
"It is an important step that confirms the Palestinians' right to self-determination," she said, adding that "we hope that this will show the way for others."
Sweden's new Prime Minister Stefan Loefven announced in his inaugural address to parliament in early October that his country would become the first EU member in western Europe to recognise a Palestinian state.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas hailed a decision by Sweden to officially recognise the state of Palestine, his spokesman told AFP.
"President Abbas welcomes Sweden's decision," Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP, saying the Palestinian leader described the move as "brave and historic".
While the Palestinians cheered the move, Israel summoned Sweden's ambassador to protest and express disappointment.
Israel has long insisted that the Palestinians can only receive their promised state through direct negotiations and not through other diplomatic channels.
Seven EU members in eastern European and the Mediterranean have already recognised a Palestinian state -- Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Romania. Non-EU member Iceland is the only other western European nation to have done so.
The United States cautioned Sweden against recognition, calling it "premature" and saying the Palestinian state could only come through a negotiated solution between Israelis and Palestinians.
In Thursday's announcement, Sweden's foreign minister said that "the government considers that international law criteria for recognition of a Palestinian state have been fulfilled."