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Opposition parties critical of Sweden's recognition of Palestine

Published torsdag 30 oktober 2014 kl 12.14
Liberal Party's Birgitta Ohlsson says the government has acted in haste. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT.

The opposition parties in Sweden were critical of the government's recognition of a Palestinian state on Thursday, claiming it had acted in haste. 

The Liberal Party's foreign policy spokesperson Birgitta Ohlsson believes the government has been too hasty in conferring the recognition.

She said to news agency TT. "The Palestinian government does not have full control over its territory. It is in fact two leaderships today, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza."

"Now does one in practice hold President Abbas and the Palestinian government responsible for what is happening in Gaza, where one lets rocket attacks rain over Israel and the civilian population," she said.

She said that in her opinion one cannot compare Palestine with the Balkans in the 1990s. "Then there was a more unified European approach, the tradition has been broken by Sweden now," she says to TT. 

Birgitta Ohlsson also believed that Swedish recognition will have no practical meaning in the peace process, saying that a peace agreement will be settled in Ramallah and Jerusalem.

The Moderate Party spokesperson in Foreign Affairs, Karin Enström, explained why she is critical of the government on the Palestine issue. 

"I think it is unfortunate that the government has persevered and made this decision. On the one hand one has violated the Swedish recognition doctrine, and it is unfortunate that one is not doing this as part of EU policy. For when the EU can pursue a common foreign policy, especially in such a difficult and important question, then you get the effect, says Enström to TT.

She also questioned whether the criteria for state recognition has been met."The Palestinian government does not have control over its territory."

Kerstin Lundgren of the Centre Party also followed the constitutional line. She told Swedish Radio, "The government must do the right thing and follow the constitutional system we have in Sweden and it is of course our duty as a reviewer of the government to ensure this."

Elsewhere in Sweden, experts on the Middle East gave their opinion on whether Sweden's recognition would have any effect on other EU countries following its lead. 

"It's really hard to say how many countries will actually take the plunge and follow Sweden," said Michael Schulz, an expert on the Middle East and conflict issues at the University of Gothenburg to news agency AFP.

"For the EU to recognize Palestine, that would require all member states to agree, so it's unlikely," he said, estimating that Stockholm's decision "shouldn't change much" over the short term.

"We must see how Israel will react if they will continue their policy of settlement or if they will instead be more cautious."

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