Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said Friday that his new center-left government would recognize Palestine, making his country the first major European nation to take that step.
"A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful coexistence. Sweden will therefore recognize the state of Palestine," Lofven said during his inaugural address in Parliament.
He did not say when such a move would occur, however. Lofven's Social Democrats and their allies in the Greens hold a minority of seats in Parliament, but were able to form a government thanks to two other factions abstaining during the vote.
The move would place Sweden among more than 100 other countries that recognize a Palestinian state, but most Western nations still don't recognize Palestine. EU member states — such as Hungary and Poland — that do recognize a Palestinian state did so before they joined the bloc.
"For the Palestinians, Sweden's move will be a welcome boost for its ambitions."With its reputation as an honest broker in international affairs and with an influential voice in EU foreign policy, the decision may well make other countries sit up and pay attention at a time when the Palestinians are threatening unilateral moves towards statehood.
In 2012, the Palestinians became a "nonmember observer state" at the U.N. following a General Assembly vote.
The Associated Press reported officials reactions from the Palestinian and American governments:
"Palestinian 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...U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psakia said the U.S. 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."Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.