Israel summons Sweden's ambassador to protest

Israel's Foreign Ministry has summoned Sweden's ambassador in Tel Aviv, following the Löfven government's decision to recognise a Palestinian state.

The meeting will take place on Monday morning. On Saturday evening, Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a statement that he "regrets" that Sweden "rushed" to make its decision without properly understanding the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

During his inaugural speech in parliament on Friday, Sweden's newly elected prime minister declared that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be resolved through a two-state solution requiring "mutual recognition" and a will from both sides to co-exist peacefully. "Sweden will therefore recognise the state of Palestine," he said.

Asked by journalists on Saturday, when such a recognition could take place, Löfven did not want to specify this, but added that their intention to do so has been known for "quite some time".

Israel fears that Sweden's move could prompt more European countries to recognise a Palestinian state. If the government would go ahead with its plans, Sweden would be the first country to recognise Palestine as an existing member of the European Union. Some countries in eastern Europe did so, however, before they became members of the union.

The outgoing centre-right government in Sweden did not recognise Palestine, as the authorities there still do not fully control the territory. While Gaza's boundaries are clearly defined, the precise Palestinian territory in the West Bank and East Jerusalem will only be determined via negotiations with Israel. These negotiations are currently suspended.