During his inaugural address to Parliament on Friday, Sweden’s new Prime Minister Stefan Lofven announced that his country would be the first Western European nation to recognize Palestine as a state.
"The conflict between Israel can only be solved with a two-state solution, negotiated in accordance with international law," Lofven said.
"A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence. Sweden will therefore recognize the state of Palestine," he declared.
Reuters has more:
For the Palestinians, Sweden's move will be a welcome boost for its ambitions.
With its reputation as an honest broker in international affairs and with an influential voice in EU foreign policy, the decision may well make other countries sit up and pay attention at a time when the Palestinians are threatening unilateral moves towards statehood.
However, there is likely to be strong criticism of Sweden from Israel, as well as from the United States and the EU, which maintain that an independent Palestinian state should only emerge through a negotiated process.
Within the EU, some countries, such as Hungary, Poland and Slovakia recognize Palestine, but they did so before joining the 28-member bloc.
If the center-left government fulfills its plans, Sweden would be the first country to recognize Palestine while being a member of the European Union.
According to the parameters set by the Oslo Accord of 1993, a Palestinian state can only be officially formed through negotiations.
“In the end, it’s a joke, actually,” said Aaron David Miller, a former U.S.-Middle East peace negotiator, reports USA Today. "It confers nothing. It could create a wave of support for growing international recognition of a Palestinian state, but what does it really mean?"