Monday

4th Mar 2024

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).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

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

... or subscribe as a group

“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.

Opinion

The macabre saga of Navalny's corpse

With Alexei Navalny's funeral in Moscow on Friday, Vladimir Putin's regime haven't just insulted his mother and widow with their treatment of his corpse — they've breached international treaties and conventions.

Latest News

  1. EU socialists fight battle on two fronts in election campaign
  2. EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit
  3. 'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child
  4. Commission plays down row over Rwanda minerals pact
  5. EU socialists set to anoint placeholder candidate
  6. Why are the banking lobby afraid of a digital euro?
  7. Deepfake dystopia — Russia's disinformation in Spain and Italy
  8. Putin's nuclear riposte to Macron fails to impress EU diplomats

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us