Sweden on Thursday officially recognised the state of Palestine, Stockholm's foreign minister said, less than a month after the government announced its intention to make the controversial move. "Today the government takes the decision to recognise the state of Palestine," Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said in a statement published in the Dagens Nyheter daily.
"It is an important step that confirms the
Palestinians' right to self-determination," she said, adding that "we
hope that this will show the way for others."
Sweden's new Prime Minister Stefan Loefven announced in his inaugural address to parliament in early October that his country would become the first EU member in
western Europe to recognise a Palestinian state.
While the Palestinians cheered the move, Israel summoned Sweden's ambassador to protest and express disappointment. Israel has long insisted that the Palestinians can only receive their promised state through direct negotiations and not through other diplomatic channels.
Seven EU members in eastern European and the Mediterranean have already recognised a Palestinian state -- Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Romania. Non-EU member Iceland is the only other western European nation to have done so.