Sweden has officially recognised the State of Palestine in a major move that the long-term European Union member believes “will facilitate a peace agreement” between Israelis and Palestinians.
Its embassy in Dhaka in a statement said they would also increase aid to the Palestinians following the recognition on Thursday.
The decision drew praise from the Palestinian president and criticism from Israel, according to Reuters.
Sweden is the first long-term EU state to recognise the State of Palestine.
The move came nearly a month after the newly elected Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s announcement that his government wanted to bolster a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Announcing the decision, Sweden said it considered that “the international law criteria for the recognition of Palestine have been satisfied” and that its recognition would facilitate the peace talks.
“The purpose of Sweden’s recognition is to contribute to a future in which Israel and Palestine can live side by side in peace and security,” read the statement.
“Sweden hopes that its decision will facilitate a peace agreement by making the parties less unequal, supporting the moderate Palestinian forces and contributing to hope at a time when tensions are increasing and no peace talks are taking place.”
The Palestinians have long sought to establish an independent, sovereign state in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem as its capital, and the Gaza Strip – occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War.
The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 1988 declared a Palestinian state within the pre-June 1967 lines.
This won recognition from about 100 countries, mainly Arab, Communist, and non-aligned states including Bangladesh.
Decades of peace talks, however, have failed to produce a permanent settlement.
In 2012, the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade the status of the Palestinians to that of a “non-member observer state”.
“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,” Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom told reporters in Stockholm.
“By making our decision we want to bring a new dynamic to the stalled peace process,” she said, according to Reuters, rejecting accusations that Sweden was taking sides.
She hoped other EU countries would follow Sweden’s lead.
Seven EU members in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean have already recognised a Palestinian state, namely Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Romania.
But they recognised it before joining the EU bloc, according to media reports.
The foreign minister Wallström of the Social Democratic Party said their move was also aimed at giving hope to young people on both sides.
The Swedish government also adopted a five-year aid strategy including substantially increased support to Palestinian state-building.
Bilateral aid to Palestine will increase by Swedish krona 500 million to 1.5 billion over the next five-year period, in addition to Sweden’s substantial humanitarian assistance.
“Sweden’s contribution aims among other things to make it easier for Palestinians to support themselves and to continue living where they are, to strengthen women’s empowerment and strengthen resilience to environmental and climate changes.
“This increased assistance means support to all moderate and non-violent forces in Palestine promoting democracy, human rights and gender equality,” Minister for International Development Cooperation Isabella Lövin of the Green Party said.
Source: Bd news24