Thursday

30th Mar 2017

Sweden breaks EU ranks to recognise Palestine

  • Lofven (c) addressed the Swedish parliament on Friday

The new left-wing government in Sweden has promised to recognise Palestine, amid EU criticism of Israel’s latest settlement expansion.

The Swedish PM, Stefan Lofven, made the pledge at his inauguration speech in parliament on Friday (3 October).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“The conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be solved by a two-state solution, negotiated in accordance with international law. It must guarantee both the Palestinians and Israelis' legitimate demands for national sovereignty and security”, he said.

“A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence. Sweden will therefore recognise the state of Palestine”.

The step is the first ever by a sitting member of the EU.

Six former Communist EU countries, as well as Cyprus and Malta, recognised Palestine in the 1980s before they joined the European Union.

But their pre-EU policies have little meaning today: When Palestine asked the UN in 2012 to recognise it as an “observer state” the Czech Republic was the only EU country which voted No despite recognising its sovereignty in 1988.

Fourteen others voted in favour, while the rest abstained in a sign of ongoing division in the bloc.

Lofven’s announcement caught both Swedish and EU diplomats by surprise.

A Swedish source told this website it “marks a really big shift in the Social-Democratic party”. An EU contact said Palestine has stepped up its “lobbying campaign” in Europe: “They had hoped that France would take the step after [Palestinian] president Abbas visited Paris last month, but this didn’t happen”.

The Swedish move came the same day the EU published a statement criticising Israel’s plan to build thousands of new settler homes in East Jerusalem.

The EU communique used forceful language - “condemned” - and said “development of relations between the EU and Israel will depend on the latter's engagement towards a lasting peace”.

Some analysts saw it as a sign of impending action.

But the EU contact said it is not. “The wording is not new and was taken from recent [EU] Council conclusions”, he said.

The European Commission is currently drafting a code for EU retail labels on settler exports, but the work is still ongoing.

It recently banned exports of settler milk and poultry products saying Israeli food safety authorities, which certify the goods, have no jurisdiction in Palestine. But this is part of a tidying-up process of existing EU law rather than a political sanction.

The new settlements mark the first expansion in East Jerusalem for more than 10 years.

The EU source said one set of settler homes, in Silwan, is “very sensitive” because it is in the Holy Basin - a part of the old city which hosts Jewish and Muslim sacred sites.

A second bloc, in Givat Hamatos, “greatly diminishes” prospects of a two-state solution because it helps enclose Jerusalem, which is claimed by both sides as their capital, in a ring of Jewish-only suburbs.

Analysis

Lukashenka: End of an era?

The political spring in Belarus ended just as the actual season began, but greater changes loom after 23 years of dictatorship.

News in Brief

  1. UK delivered its Article 50 letter to the EU
  2. Support for Germany's anti-EU party fading
  3. Turkish intelligence not welcome in Germany
  4. US senate approves Montenegro’s Nato bid
  5. Scottish MPs give go ahead to seek referendum
  6. Uber pulls out of Denmark over new taxi-regulation
  7. EU court validates sanctions on Russia's Rosneft
  8. Luxembourg to team up with Ireland in Apple tax appeal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The Idealist QuarterlyCan Progressive Stories Survive Our Post-Truth Era? After-Work Discussion on 6 April
  2. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  3. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  4. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  5. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  6. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  8. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  9. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  10. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  12. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans