STOCKHOLM (AP) — Sweden’s new left-leaning government on Thursday recognized a Palestinian state — a move that comes during increased tensions between Arabs and Jews over Israel’s plans to build about 1,000 housing units in east Jerusalem.
The EU member became the third Western European nation, after Malta and Cyprus, to do so, reflecting growing international impatience with Israel’s nearly half-century control of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said Sweden made the move because Palestine had fulfilled the international law criteria required for such recognition.
“There is a territory, a people and government,” she told reporters in Stockholm.
Israel was quick to condemn Sweden’s announcement, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman describing it as “a miserable decision that strengthens the extremist elements and Palestinian rejectionism.”
“It’s a shame that the government of Sweden chose to take a declarative step that only causes harm,” he added.