On Friday, Sweden — a nation that took a stance of neutrality during World War II, which was defined by the Holocaust and resulted in the extermination of 6 million Jewish people — said it recognized Palestinian statehood, making it the first major European country to do so.
“A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence. Sweden will therefore recognize the state of Palestine,” said Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven of his country’s left-of-center government during his inaugural address in Parliament on Friday, according to a report by Reuters.
That same day, the United States issued a statement in response to Sweden’s decision saying it would be “premature” to recognize a new Palestinian state, according to Al Arabiya News. “We believe international recognition of a Palestinian state is premature,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
In April of this year, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas violated one of the conditions of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations process by defying both the United States and Israel with the threat of taking unilateral action and joining 15 international agencies in a move to gain the benefits of statehood outside of the negotiations process.
Hamas at least seven times violated cease-fire agreements between Israel’s government and their own during the 2014 Israel-Hamas war which was sparked by the kidnapping and brutal murder of three Israeli teens on June 12 of this year by Hamas terrorists.
While the United Nation’s General Assembly in 2012 approved de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine, the European Union and most EU countries have yet to provide theirs with the exception of Sweden, until now.
Other nations such as Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia have recognized Palestine in the past but did so before joining the 28 country bloc known as the EU, notes Reuters.
“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,” said the director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (Caabu) Chris Doyle in a statement, notes Al Arabiya.
Caabu’s Doyle urged the UK to follow Sweden’s lead stating “It is time for the final step, to give real meaning to supporting the Palestinian right to self-determination.”
Australia’s government announced in June of this year that it would no loner be using the term “occupy” in reference to East Jerusalem. “The description of East Jerusalem as ‘occupied’ East Jerusalem is a term freighted with pejorative implications which is neither appropriate nor useful. It should not and will not be the practice of the Australian government to describe areas of negotiation in such judgmental language,” said Australian Attorney General George Brandis.
Brandis noted that Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has also questioned whether Israeli settlements beyond the 1967 borders are really illegal: “I would like to see which international law has declared them illegal,” Bishop said.
Last week, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York, cited “history, archaeology, and common sense” as he addressed the world and stated that “the people of Israel are not the occupiers in the land of Israel.”