Sweden premature to recognize Palestine: U.S.

The United Kingdom urged to follow Sweden's example

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The United States said Friday it would be "premature" to recognize a new Palestinian state, after Sweden said it was planning to as part of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"We believe international recognition of a Palestinian state is premature," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters when asked about Sweden's decision.

"We certainly support Palestinian statehood, but it can only come through a negotiated outcome, a resolution of final status issues and mutual recognitions by both parties."

Sweden will become the first major European country to recognize the state of Palestine, the country’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said on Friday.

The U.N. General Assembly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine in 2012 but the European Union and most EU countries have yet to give official recognition.

“The conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be solved with a two-state solution, negotiated in accordance with international law,” Lofven said during his inaugural address in parliament.

“A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence. Sweden will therefore recognize the state of Palestine.”

Demonstrators carry Palestinian flags as they protest outside the Houses of Parliament in central London July 26, 2014. (Reuters)
Demonstrators carry Palestinian flags as they protest outside the Houses of Parliament in central London July 26, 2014. (Reuters)

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.

UK urged to follow Sweden’s lead

The Council for Arab-British Understanding (Caabu) urged the UK to follow Sweden’s lead, saying the move was a welcome example to other EU states that “the time is ripe to recognize Palestinian national rights.”

“Any decision to recognize Palestine will not change anything on the ground, where there will still be an occupation, checkpoints, a wall; where Palestinians will be denied freedom but it does send a powerful symbolic message to Israel and anti-Palestinian movements,” Caabu director Chris Doyle said in a statement.

“Britain has accepted the principle of Palestinian statehood and that Palestine has passed all the requisite tests for statehood. It is time for the final step, to give real meaning to supporting the Palestinian right to self-determination,” Cabuu said in a statement.

Within the EU, some countries, such as Hungary, Poland and Slovakia recognize Palestine, but they did so before joining the 28-member bloc.

If the center-left government fulfills its plans, Sweden would be the first country to recognize Palestine while being a member of the European Union.

The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, with its capital in East Jerusalem. While Gaza’s boundaries are clearly defined, the precise territory of what would constitute Palestine in the West Bank and East Jerusalem will only be determined via negotiations with Israel on a two-state solution, negotiations which are currently suspended.

(With AFP, Reuters)

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