Sweden officially recognized the Palestinian state on Thursday becoming the EU member state in Western Europe to take the move, Stockholm’s Foreign Ministry announced, Agence France-Presse reported.
“Today the government takes 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 Palestinians’ right to self-determination,” he said.
Wallstrom said the country’s move aims to support moderate Palestinians in equalizing their status with that of Israel in peace negotiations, as well as giving hope to young people on both sides.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas hailed the decision “historic,” his spokesman told AFP.
“President Abbas welcomes Sweden’s decision,” Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP, saying the Palestinian leader described the move as “brave and historic.”
Palestinians seek statehood in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as their capital.
They have sought to sidestep stalled peace talks by lobbying foreign powers to recognize their sovereignty claim.