Sweden recognizes Palestine
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom attends a news conference at the Rosenbad government building in Stockholm, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. Sweden's center-left government will officially recognize the state of Palestine on Thursday, becoming the first major European country to do so, Wallstrom said. Reuters

Israel recalled its ambassador to Sweden Thursday after the Swedish government officially recognized a Palestinian state. New Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Loven made recognizing Palestine one of his campaign promises. The Swedish Foreign Ministry tweeted Thursday that it “expressed hopes for peaceful coexistence between Israel and Palestine.”

Sweden’s recognition of Palestine was immediately condemned by Israel. The Jewish state recalled its ambassador to Sweden in response.

“It is a pity the Swedish government has chosen to adopt the measure that does a lot of damage and has no benefits,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, according to the Jerusalem Post. Lieberman also called Sweden’s recognition of Palestine “a shame” and “a miserable decision.”

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, lauded Sweden’s move as “a principled and courageous decision.”

"It is our hope that other EU member states and countries worldwide will follow Sweden's lead and recognize Palestine before the chances for a two-state solution are destroyed indefinitely," Ashrawi told the Associated Press.

Israel’s view is that Palestinians can only claim a state through successful peace negotiations. Talks collapsed earlier this year and Israel and Hamas were embroiled in a 50-day conflict this summer in Gaza.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said the Palestinian people met the criteria for statehood.

"There is a territory, a people and government," she told reporters in Stockholm, according to the AP.

Sweden is just the third country in Western Europe and the first in the European Union to recognize Palestine. Malta and Cyprus also recognize a Palestinian state.