By Mujie Cui
Sweden’s new prime minister, Stefan Lofven, decided to recognize the state of Palestine on Friday.
“The conflict between Israel can only be solved with a two-state solution, negotiated in accordance with international law,” he said during his inaugural address to Parliament on Friday.
The announcement from Sweden, which has great international prestige in the international community, implies that Sweden has formally recognized the Palestinian state.
On Saturday, Oct. 14, U.S. Department of State spokesman Jen Psaki said that Sweden’s remark is “premature.”
Psaki said, “The U.S. certainly supports Palestinian statehood, but it can only come through a negotiated outcome, a resolution of final status issues and mutual recognitions by both parties.”
The Fatah, who controll the Palestinian National Authority, has always wanted to promote the Palestinian state, to realize their ambition of national independence.
Fatah represents Palestinians, who believe that the establishment of a sovereign state is their basic right as a nation. They want the Palestinian state to have the territories it possessed before 1967, including East Jerusalem.
The United States and Israel share the same view on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, believing that to solve the Palestinian-Israeli problem, they need a “no preconditions” negotiation.
This proposal seems to favor reconciliation between the two states, but it is, in fact, a deadlock between Palestine and Israel.
Major issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict include: Palestine and Israel in the occupied territories, the final status of Jerusalem, the return of refugees and the Israeli national nature of the problem.
Each internal faction is complex enough to form an effective political breakthrough.
Sweden’s recognition of Palestinian statehood has been heralded in the international political arena as a major diplomatic victory for Palestine.
Although many countries in the world, including China, have already recognized the Palestinian state, Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean region have only seven EU members (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Romania) that have recognized the Palestinian state.
All of these countries recognized the state of Palestine before they joined the EU.
Sweden will be the first major state in the European Union to recognize Palestine.
Therefore, the media speculated that Sweden’s recognition of a Palestinian state might play a demonstrative role, potentially getting the other 28 member states of the EU to recognize the Palestinian state.
The Social Democratic Party, led by Lofven, is the largest party in the Swedish parliament, and co-founded a minority government with the Environment Party after the parliamentary elections last month.
The Social Democratic Party made bold campaign proposals in areas of internal and foreign affairs. After widespread speculation, outside analysts imagined the new Swedish government might recognize the Western Sahara’s statehood, but did not expect Sweden’s government to recognize Palestine first.
Sweden’s new foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, said to Swedish media in regards to the recognition of a Palestinian state that Sweden has “a lot of partners,” and many other countries have made the decision to recognize Palestine’s statehood.
Foreign Minister Wallstrom has long served at the United Nations headquarters in Sweden and the EU headquarters in Brussels, and therefore has a major influence on the diplomatic community in Europe.
Wallstrom is a “newbie” in Middle-Eastern affairs, but this “newbie” status allowed Wallstrom the courage and daring to challenge the current political deadlock.
The recognition of Palestinian statehood highlights the image of independence in the new Swedish government.
Although Sweden’s recognition of Palestinian statehood has great symbolic significance, it cannot change the existing deadlock on the Israeli-Palestinian problem.
First, there is no substantive breakthrough between the Palestinians and Israelis on a range of issues, and negotiation still seems far away.
Second, the United States still has not changed its position on Palestinian-Israeli issue. As a member of the U.N. Security Council and important NATO leadership, the United States’ attitude toward the Israeli-Palestinian issue has always been crucial.
Third, Sweden is not an EU core country. Britain, France, Italy and other countries still have not achieved a breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian problem.
Sweden’s recognition of the state of Palestine is more likely to show the new heads of government are “mavericks” than to make a lasting impact in the international politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.