Sweden has become the latest country to officially recognise Palestine as a state.
The Scandinavian country's new left-leaning prime minister Stefan Löfven announced his intention to recognise the territories in his inaugural parliamentary address earlier this month and confirmed the government had made its decision today.
The past year, we’ve seen how the peace negotiations once again have halted, how decisions on new settlements on occupied Palestinian land have obstructed a two-state solution and how violence has returned to Gaza.
The government considers that international law criteria for recognition of a Palestinian state have been fulfilled.
It is an important step that confirms the Palestinians’ right to self-determination. We hope that this will show the way for others.
- Margot Wallström, Swedish foreign minister
Israel's foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman described the move as "a depolorable decision that strengthens the extremist elements and Palestinian rejectionism," according to AFP.
The Swedish government must understand that relations in the Middle East are a lot more complex than the self-assembly furniture of IKEA and that they have to act with responsibility and sensitivity.
- Avigdor Lieberman, Israeli foreign minister
Seven other EU member states - Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Romania - have already recognised Palestine.
In a House of Commons vote earlier this month, a majority of 262 MPs backed a motion which called on the British government to "recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel".