26th May 2022


EU states should follow Sweden on Palestine

  • The answer has lay before us for many years: two states – Israel and Palestine – as defined by the 1967 borders. (Photo: Rosie Gabrielle)

There are moments in the life of a diplomat in which one is obliged to abandon diplomatic conduct and to say what’s on one’s mind loud and clear.

This period defines such a moment.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

After years of diplomatic service on behalf of the state of Israel in addition to years of struggle in defence of Israel’s reputation, there is no doubt in my mind that the 47-year long occupation of Palestine poses the gravest threat to the state of Israel today.

I also have no doubt that the answer to this threat has laid before us for many years: two states – Israel and Palestine – as defined by the 1967 borders.

In this light, as an Israeli citizen who loves and believes in his country, I extend my most sincere gratitude to the Swedish prime minister and members of the new Swedish government on their decision to recognise the state of Palestine.

Some people prefer to defer recognition, in the belief that recognition of a Palestinian state needs to come as a result of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and not serve as a starting point for them.

I believe that they are wrong.

The Israeli government has adopted a policy that places substantial barriers in the way of any potential means of ending the conflict.

Such policies are made manifest in the ongoing expansion of civilian settlement and illegal outpost construction, and in the refusal to earnestly sit at the negotiating table having accepted legitimate Palestinian demands.

In such a situation, conditioning a sovereign Palestinian state on the successful completion of negotiations, in effect indirectly perpetuates the continuation of the occupation, indefinitely.

The loud and clear voice of Sweden

The voice of Sweden, upon making its decision in support of just, peaceful lives for both nations in the region, is absolutely critical.

To my Israeli friends who will read this today, I assure you, there is nothing to fear in regard to recognition of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders. On the contrary!

Only the establishment of such a state can ensure the continued existence of a sovereign state of Israel along the Green Line.

Only such recognition will save us from our continued deterioration down the slippery slope of apartheid that threatens to strangle the West Bank with each new settlement and separate road for Israelis and Palestinians.

International recognition of a Palestinian state does not mark an end to negotiations, but rather their beginning.

Negotiations under such circumstances would take place between two sovereign recognised entities, rather than between an occupying country and the population under its control.

I beseech our friends in the international community to join the Swedish government in taking this brave stride.

Israelis and Palestinians alike have no more time to waste before further lives are lost or severely compromised.


The characteristics of the ongoing occupation include settlement expansion; limited water resources and access to Palestinians; restricted freedom of movement in the West Bank, and between Gaza and the West Bank; and the all-encompassing military occupation.

These elements paint the reality in the region today, and will continue to do so if nothing changes.

But we cannot change this reality on our own. We require the help of our true friends in the international community who are ready to recognise the legitimate rights of Palestinians as being equally important as those of Israelis.

Only when our friends take this firm stance will there be a possibility to affect change within the Israeli position and to bring us all closer to an end to the occupation and the conflict at large.

Upon the start of the Jewish New Year, I again extend my most deep gratitude to the Swedish PM for his role as a true friend of Israel.

I hope that throughout this year many other members of the international community will join Sweden in recognition of a sovereign Palestinian state alongside a sovereign Israeli state, and in support of a just, fair agreement for both nations.

The writer served as the director general of Israel's ministry of foreign affairs and as the Israeli ambassador to South Africa


The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.


Right of Reply: Hungarian government

The government in Budapest responds to EUobserver opinion piece "Are Orban's Covid powers now the 'new normal' in Hungary?"


The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is back

Ukraine is finally understood — and hopefully Belarus will be soon too — as a self-standing society and state with close links to its EU neighbours, rather being relegated to Russia's backyard.

Brexit hostility to Good Friday Agreement is damaging UK in US

Democratic Unionist MPs could affirm unequivocally they support the Good Friday Agreement, with no return of a border with physical controls on movement of people, goods or agricultural produce within the island of Ireland — but they won't.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us