Sweden considers that the international law criteria for the recognition of Palestine have been satisfied. There is a territory, albeit with non-defined borders.
There is a population. And there is a government with the capacity for internal and external control. Also, the global community has deemed Palestine to have the capacity to assume the obligations of a state.
It is true that the Palestinian Authority does not have full control over Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza. Where Gaza is concerned, following the formation of a Palestinian technocratic unity government and the reconciliation accord between Hamas and Fatah, the capacity for internal cohesion has been enhanced.
Not to recognise Palestine because of the Israeli occupation would be contrary to the international law principle of ‘no fruits of aggression’.
The government’s assessment that the international law criteria have been fulfilled is shared by international law experts.
Sweden has previously recognised states — Croatia in 1992 and Kosovo in 2008 — even though they lacked effective control over parts of their territory. Palestine is similarly a special case. Now as then, there are strong political arguments for why recognition — a decision regarding Palestine already taken by more than 130 states — is the right way to go.
In 2009, EU member states reiterated their readiness to recognise a Palestinian state, when appropriate.
We are now ready to lead the way. In view of the difficult situation in the region and in the light of international law analysis, the government sees no reason to further delay a Swedish decision. We hope this may show others the way forward.
Our recognition of a Palestinian state will be followed by enhanced efforts to support the development of democracy and human rights in Palestine.
Recognition also entails greater responsibility. We will make clear demands on Palestine, as we do on Israel.
These will include fighting corruption, respecting civil and political rights and increasing the influence of women. Obviously, this also means a complete renunciation of violence.
There are those who will argue that our decision is premature. If anything, I fear it is too late. The government will now, together with the other EU countries, the US and other regional and international actors, work to support renewed negotiations on a final status settlement.
Such a settlement must be negotiated in accordance with the principles of international law and guarantee both the Palestinians’ and Israelis’ legitimate demands for national self-determination and security.
Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2014
STOCKHOLM: 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 take the controversial move.
“Today the government takes the 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 Palestinian’s right to self-determination.“
With its reputation as an honest broker in international affairs and with an influential voice in EU foreign policy, the recognition may well make other countries sit up and pay attention at a time when the Palestinians are threatening unilateral moves towards statehood.
British lawmakers, earlier this month, had voted overwhelmingly in favour of recognising Palestine as a state, in a non-binding motion heavy with symbolism but unlikely to change government policy.
The UN General Assembly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine in 2012 but the European Union and most EU countries, have yet to give official recognition.