First Palestinian embassy in W. Europe opens in Sweden

This is great!

The first-ever Palestinian embassy in Western Europe has opened in Sweden on Tuesday evening, the Swedish prime minister’s press service said. President Mahmoud Abbas has arrived in Stockholm for the event.

“Your recognition…should push forward negotiations in the peace process,” Abbas said.

Prime Minister Lofven has vowed aid to Palestine, but has also called on reforms.

“There are challenges: we must help one another to fight corruption, increase gender equality, improve respect for human rights, and of course continue the state building process,” Lofven said.

Under the newly signed deal, Sweden’s financial help to Palestine will grow by 1.5 billion kronas (US$179.74 million) over the next five years.

Palestine has diplomatic missions in countries that either recognize or partially recognize it as an independent state.

Until Tuesday, Palestine had a General Delegation of Palestine in Sweden, based in Stockholm.

On October 30, Sweden was the first Western EU member (and 135th of the world’s 193 nations) to officially recognize Palestinian statehood. Britain, France, Spain and Portugal followed suit.

But not everyone is as pleased as I am with this development…

The plan to recognize Palestine was criticized by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who said that Prime Minister Lofven “must understand that neither declaration nor move by an external player will replace direct talks between the sides that will be part of a comprehensive accord between Israel and the entire Arab world.”

Following the move, relations between Sweden and Israel soured, and deteriorated even further early this year, when Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom called off a visit to Israel in January.

At the time, Israeli media cited Lieberman as saying that he did not want to meet Wallstrom, and that she wasn’t welcome on an official visit to Tel Aviv.

Israel’s blood must be boiling right about now. I wouldn’t be surprised if something bad happens to Sweden, like it did to France a few short weeks ago.

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