Ever since the killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank in June and the subsequent airstrikes and violence in the region, the eyes of the world have been focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and for months, world leaders have been contributing to the ongoing global discussion about the crisis.
One such leader is newly-elected Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, who was inaugurated last Friday, October 3. During his inaugural address, he made the somewhat controversial statement that the country of Sweden would now recognize Palestine as a state.
“The conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be solved with a two-state solution, negotiated in accordance with international law,” Löfven suggested, going on to say, “A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful coexistence. Sweden will therefore recognize the state of Palestine.”
Ma’an News Agency, a Palestinian wire service, reported that although 134 countries around the world recognize the Palestinian state in 2014, most countries in Western Europe and North America do not.
Below is a map showing which countries, represented in pink, recognize Palestine as a state. See map online here.
It is interesting to compare that map with this one, which shows countries that recognize Israel as a state (the countries in green do). As you can see, Sweden recognizes both Palestine and Israel as states. See map online here.
Löfven’s declaration makes Sweden the first nation to recognize Palestinian statehood while also a member of the European Union. Although there are other EU members that do recognize the Palestinian state, such as Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Romania, and Poland, they officially did so before joining the EU, according to Five Towns Jewish Times.
Many have speculated as to what the results of this bold move may be, and the global community must now consider the potential for other countries in Western Europe to follow Sweden’s example.
According to Al-Jazeera, Senior Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erakat recently voiced hopes for such results:
“We salute the announcement by the Swedish prime minister. We hope that all countries of the European Union will take the same courageous and remarkable decision… As there is no reason not to recognize the Palestinian state.”
Israel, however, was clearly troubled by the proclamation, with many top officials commenting (as reported by The New York Times):
“Unilateral moves are contrary to agreements. They will not bring peace closer, they will distance it. An agreement will only be reached through negotiations which will ensure Israel’s national interests, with the security of Israel’s citizens foremost among them.” -Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
“[Mr. Löfven] apparently has not yet had sufficient time to study the matter and to understand that it is the Palestinians who have for the past 20 years been an obstacle to reaching an agreement with Israel.” -Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
I agree with the prediction that Sweden’s action may eventualy prompt other nations, specifically in Europe, to follow suit. I think that Sweden’s recognition of Palestine is admirable, and a step in the right direction toward an evenutal resolution to the conflict. However, I am still unsure as to how a two-state solution to the conflict could work logistically. How likely is it is that other European countries will follow Sweden’s example and recognize Palestine as a state, and what would the result be if they did? And the question that is most interesting to me: How effective would a two-state solution be?