Sweden joined the ranks of the handful of EU countries that officially recognize Palestine on Thursday. Officials said they hope the move would help revive the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. CCTV America’s Jack Barton reports from Brussels.
“Today, the government of Sweden has decided to recognize the state of Palestine. We have decided to do so on the basis of the fact that the criteria of international law are fulfilled: There is a territory, a people, and a government,” said Margot Wallström, Sweden’s Foreign Minister.
The decision drew immediate criticism from Israel and praise from Palestinian officials.
“We think that Sweden, by this recognition, will add new support for the political process and for the peace process, and this could make Israel believe more in going back to negotiations and to end it’s occupation of the Palestinian lands and recognize the Palestinian state. We welcome this recognition, and we thank the government of Sweden and the Swedish people for this,” said Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki.
Sweden’s foreign minister added that the move is aimed at supporting moderate Palestinians, providing them a more equal footing in the peace negotiations with Israel.
“We have seen an escalation of settlements and violence in Jerusalem and on the West Bank. We have seen, in six years, three wars in Gaza. We have also seen a radicalization of many young people who actually have only two choices of either accepting the situation as it is, or taking to violent methods, and we believe that this is support for a peace process and negotiations,” Wallström added.
She also said Sweden hoped the move would encourage other countries to follow suit.