Thursday, October 30, 2014

Global Impact: Leftist Sweden Recognizes Palestine; Observers Need to Focus on Hamas, a Terror Group Sworn to End Israel's Existence

According to The Associated Press, Sweden on Thursday (October 30) became the largest Western European nation to recognize the Palestinian state, prompting a strong protest from Israel, which swiftly withdrew its ambassador from Stockholm.
Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said Stockholm, fulfilling a promise made when the Social Democratic-led government took office earlier this month, believes the Palestinians have met the criteria under international law for such recognition.
The controversial step by Sweden's new left-leaning government reflects growing international impatience with Israel's nearly half-century control of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and its blockade of the Gaza Strip. 

It also comes during increased tensions between Arabs and Jews over Israel's plans to build 1,000 housing units in east Jerusalem."There is a territory, a people and government," she told reporters in Stockholm, adding that Sweden was the 135th country in the world to recognize a Palestinian state. Israel was quick to condemn Sweden's announcement, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman describing it as "a miserable decision that strengthens the extremist elements and Palestinian rejectionism." Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson said Israel's ambassador to Sweden was being recalled for consultations, but declined to say how long he would remain in Tel Aviv.
Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, welcomed the move by Sweden, a European Union member, as "a principled and courageous decision.
Israel says Palestinians can gain independence only through peace negotiations, and that recognition of Palestine at the UN or by individual countries undermines the negotiating process. Palestinians say Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu isn't serious about peace negotiations.
COMMENT: For those governments that are so anxious to recognize Palestine as a state, I remind them that the one loose cannon that remains is Hamas, a designated terror group that has but one goal: The destruction of Israel, the one sole, functioning democracy in the Middle East.
"Some countries (are) responding to the lack of a resolution of a peace process out there," Ashrawi said.
Wallstrom, the Swedish foreign minister, said she had anticipated Israeli criticism against Sweden's decision.
"It happens that ambassadors are recalled for consultations. It is part of the diplomatic toolkit," Wallstrom said. "I am convinced that both our countries have an interest in maintaining and strengthening our good bilateral ties."
While the US and European powers have so far refrained from recognizing Palestinian independence, they have become increasingly critical of Israeli settlement construction. The 28-nation European Union has urged that negotiations to achieve a two-state solution resume as soon as possible.
In a symbolic move, British lawmakers earlier this month voted in favor of recognizing Palestine as a state.
Other Western European countries--including Germany, Denmark and Finland--have said they're not planning to follow Sweden's lead.

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