A thank you to the Swedish people
This could be the beginning of a historic change to be followed by similar moves across Europe
When the Swedish foreign minister promised weeks ago that his country would recognize the State of Palestine, we weren’t sure that Sweden would do so given the tremendous amount of pressure such a decision would face from the European Union, the United States and the social and political forces that are tied to Israel.
But Sweden did it. This could be the beginning of a historic change to be followed by similar moves across Europe to halt, for the first time, Israel’s plan to eliminate the legitimate existence of the Palestinian people and their dream of establishing a country of their own.
We are impressed by Sweden's great moral and humane stanceAbdulrahman al-Rashed
Sweden does not have substantial interests in common with Arab countries. It is a state in Western Europe that has least benefited from the Arabs. There is no Arab country present in its top 10 trade partners. Sweden is not home to an influential Arab community. Moreover, it does not need anyone’s help. Its population is one-third of the population of Saudi Arabia, yet its budget is as big as the Saudi budget. This is why we are impressed by its great moral and humane stance and we tell the Swedes: thank you, as government and as people.
Sweden has always had a history of positive stances toward the Palestinian cause. Its former Prime Minister Olof Palme had well-known position against Israeli actions, and he ended up being shot dead in a Stockholm street in 1986.
We wouldn’t be asking for much if we want Arab governments to express their people’s gratitude to Sweden and give it the appropriate praise at all levels. Arab governments should also encourage other Western states to recognize the State of Palestine and play a proactive political role against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has never ceased threatening Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over the latter’s quest to join international organizations and obtain recognition from as many countries as possible. The recent Israeli actions in Jerusalem and its announcement of closing al-Aqsa Mosque is a serious move that will have serious repercussions on the stability of the whole region. Netanyahu should be aware that he is complicating the situation by taking the confrontation to a new level with all Muslims across the world and yet again violating signed peace agreements.
Two days ago, I took part in the Arabic and International Council in Kuwait and I attended a briefing by Dr. Mustapha al-Barghouthi about the latest war on Gaza and the human catastrophe - the suffering of victims and the displaced. There is no solution to the 70-year-old tragedy except the two-state solution. The international community has promised the Palestinians that such a solution will be reached via a peace agreement that was hampered by Netanyahu government and foreign interventions from countries like Iran that seeks to sabotage any potential peaceful solution through it local proxies.
The Swedish recognition of Palestine breaks the ice, opens door for establishing a Palestinian state in West Bank and Gaza and puts the Israelis and Palestinians facing their legal obligation. Without the recognition of the Palestinian state, Netanyahu and his successors won’t stop occupying and stealing more Palestinian lands and seizing what is left. This racist and expansionist mentality calls for an international effort, such as recognizing the Palestinian State, to stress that it has become a reality that the Israelis and their allies cannot erase. This will urge Arab and other states, which believe in the Palestinian cause as a just one, to help the Palestinians obtain their rights.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on October 31, 2014.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.