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6 Oct, 2014 10:05

​Sweden plans to recognize Palestine to kick-start talks – ambassador

​Sweden plans to recognize Palestine to kick-start talks – ambassador

Sweden won’t backpedal on its intention to recognize the state of Palestine and believes the move will help kick-start direct talks between the Palestinians and Israelis. Israel and the US both warned Stockholm against the move.

“The situation is clear, peace talks have been suspended for a while, and I think the conflict in Gaza made it clear that the status quo needs to be changed,” Sweden’s Ambassador to Israel Carl Magnus told Army Radio on Monday morning

He was speaking ahead of his meeting with Aviv Shir-on, the deputy director-general for European affairs at the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Earlier on Sunday the embassy came up with a statement on Sweden’s position, which some Israeli media interpreted as a sign of backing down on the recognition.

"The conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be resolved through a two-state solution," the statement read, noting that such an agreement must be "negotiated in accordance with the principles of international law."

"It must guarantee the legitimate demands of both the Palestinians and the Israelis for national self-determination and security. A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to coexist peacefully," the statement continued.

Palestinians, whose houses were destroyed during a seven-week Israeli offensive, hold balloons to decorate a United Nations-run school where they take refuge ahead of Eid al-Adha in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip October 3, 2014 (Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Some observers thought that the future recognition would be conditional on the renewal or even success of the negotiations, but the embassy denied it and said that Stockholm would recognize Palestine regardless of "any negotiations or anything else."

Sweden’s new Prime Minister Stefan Loven announced the intention to recognize Palestine as a state on Friday last week. The country is poised to become the first member of the EU to do so, since the current members that recognize Palestine - namely Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Romania - did so before joining the union.

Over 130 UN members have recognized Palestine’s statehood so far. Notable absentees among them include the United States, Canada, all Western European members of the EU, Australia, Japan and South Korea.

Israel called Loven’s decision “rushed” and the US said it was “premature.” Swedish officials insist that Sweden want to have constructive relations with Washington and Tel Aviv, but would decide on their policies on their own.

The Palestinian authority hailed the announcement and said it hopes that other EU members would follow Sweden’s lead.