Sweden is the first big country in western Europe to officially recognise Palestinian statehood with a people, a territory and a government as stipulated by international law.
On 30 October this year, Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom spoke about trying to move forward: “Today the government of Sweden has decided to recognise the State of Palestine.”
She gave political and pragmatic reasons: “We have seen an escalation of settlements and violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and we have seen, in six years, three wars in Gaza. We have also seen a radicalisation of many young people who actually have only two choices; either accepting the situation as it is, or taking to violent methods.”
Britain’s parliament launched a similar initiative, a few days before the Swedish government. Yet the overwhelming vote (274 yes, 12 no) is symbolic, and not binding on the government.
The Spanish parliament spoke almost unanimously in November — with one abstention, two votes against and 319 in favour of a state for the Palestinians. This was also a symbolic step, which Former Foreign Affairs Minister Trinidad Jiménez said could help to prompt solutions.
According to Jiménez: “In an effort to contain violence made worse by terrorist groups, Israel must reach an agreement with moderate leaders who reject violence, like the Palestinian Authority President [Mahmoud Abbas].”
When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu broke off Israeli-Palestinian peace talks last April,
on the grounds that Hamas and the PLO were reconciling, many countries frowned.
Then Netanayhu revived his policy of expanding Jewish settlement-building in the occupied West Bank.
The Arab League asked Jordan — as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council — to propose a resolution to have a Palestinian state recognised within 1967 borders.
In 2012, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to accord Palestine ‘Non-Member Observer State’ Status, where before it had held ‘observer entity’ status. The vote was 138 countries in favour to nine against, among them Israel and the US; 41 abstained.