he move by Sweden’s centre-left government to recognise Palestine as a state is not surprising, in part because the UN General Assembly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine in 2012, and the Scandinavian country is also a proud part of liberal Europe and could easily be characterised as being predisposed to recognise such sovereignty claims.
In an editorial today, the Abu Dhabi based English language daily, The National, says that what makes this move particularly significant, is that the European Union and most other EU countries have yet to give official recognition to Palestine.
"Although a small cluster of European countries, including Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, have already recognised Palestine, they did so before formally joining the union," the editorial explains. "The move, which comes amid a diplomatic push by Palestinians at the UN to secure a resolution setting a deadline for Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian Territories and East Jerusalem by November 2016, signals that the trajectory of political thinking is changing." The editorial continues, "Certainly that is the case if the events of the past week are anything to go by. Consider the October 1st meeting between President Barack Obama and the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, hours after which the US made a strong statement condemning Israel’s plans for new settlement construction. The US warned that Israel could alienate 'even its closest allies', a statement in marked contrast to some of the more cordial previous meetings between the two.
"In the light of these events, it is likely that the Swedish decision, which comes ahead of the October 13th vote on a motion in the British Parliament calling on the U.K. to recognise Palestine, will significantly boost the Palestinian campaign to seek unilateral recognition following the collapse of the US-sponsored peace process earlier this year." In closing, The National editorial looks at a wider perspective: "History shows it’s often the initiatives of smaller countries that compel bigger nations to act decisively. For instance, the mood shift of some smaller nations over apartheid-era South Africa eventually prompted more prominent members of the international community to act.
"There are other indications that sentiments are shifting. A law introduced in the EU last year prohibited the sale of goods produced in the occupied territories. In isolation, this legislation was just another small step, but, like Sweden’s announcement over sovereignty, suggests the stars are beginning to align against Israel."