Saturday, October 4, 2014

Palestinian government hails recognition by Sweden. Al-Maliki called on other European countries to follow

RAMALLAH. - The Palestinian government on Friday welcomed an announcement by Sweden that it planned to formally recognize the State of Palestine.
In a statement, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki voiced "thanks and appreciation for the Swedish position, which supports the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and an independent state."
Al-Maliki called on other European countries to follow suit in order to achieve comprehensive peace in the Middle East and to "send a strong message to Israel to stop destroying the peace process based on a two-state solution."

Earlier Friday, Sweden's newly elected center-left government said it was set to recognize Palestine as a state, which would make it the first longstanding E.U. member-state to do so.
''The conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be solved with a two-state solution, negotiated in accordance with international law,'' Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told parliament on Friday.
''A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful coexistence. Sweden will therefore recognize the State of Palestine,'' he said. 

The decision comes less than a month after Sweden's Social Democrats – in alliance with the Greens and the Left Party – swept September 14 parliamentary polls.
A handful of European countries – including Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – have already recognized Palestine as a state. They did so, however, before joining the E.U.

In late 2012, Palestine was granted non-member observer status at the United Nations.
The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-famous "Balfour Declaration," called for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

In 1948, some 700,000 Palestinians fled their homes – or were forcibly expelled by Jewish forces – after the creation of the new state of Israel, while hundreds of Palestinian villages and towns were razed to the ground.

Israel then occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.
Palestinians, for their part, continue to demand the establishment of an independent state in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with East Jerusalem – currently occupied by Israel – as its capital.
By Qais Abu Samra

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