Sweden has recognized the occupied state of Palestine officially, according to its foreign ministry. The Scandinavian has become the first West-European EU state to recognize the territories. Israel has recalled its ambassador in Sweden.
The news follows an earlier hint by Prime Minister Stefan Lovfen in his Social Democrat manifesto, during his inaugural address in October, that this would happen. The idea was quickly met with criticism from the United States and Israel.
"Our decision comes at a critical time because over the last year we have seen how the peace talks have stalled, how decisions over new settlements on occupied Palestinian land have complicated a two-state solution and how violence has returned to Gaza," Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom told reporters.
"By making our decision we want to bring a new dynamic to the stalled peace process."
"Today's recognition is a contribution to a better future for a region that has for too long been characterized by frozen negotiations, destruction and frustration," she wrote earlier on Thursday in the daily Dagens Nyheter.
"Some will state this decision comes too soon. I am afraid, rather, that it is too late."
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has already welcomed the "historic" move by Sweden. "President Abbas welcomes Sweden's decision," Nabil Abu Rudeina, the leader's spokesman told AFP.
The reaction from Israel followed soon after: “The decision of the Swedish government to recognize a Palestinian state is a deplorable decision which only strengthens extremist elements and Palestinian rejectionizm,” the Jewish state's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said.
Later in the day, Israel's Foreign Ministry said the country is recalling its ambassador in Sweden for consultations in protest of the move. Lieberman even considers permanently removing the ambassador, Isaac Bachman, from his position, reported Haaretz. This move would officially downgrade Israel's relations with Sweden.
Wallstrom rejected accusations that Sweden was taking any sides in the matter.
The troubled Muslim territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been seeking autonomy from their Jewish occupiers for decades now, with many people having perished in one of the most prolonged and bloody confrontations in history.
Read more: http://rt.com/news/200747-palestinian-state-sweden-recognition/