Sweden has become the first long-term EU country to say it would recognise a Palestinian state, despite the United States warning that it was “too soon” to do so.
The decision comes after centre-left politician Stefan Lofven became prime minister after narrowly winning last month’s general election.
Lovren said in his inaugural speech that his government wanted to bolster a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but Israel hit out at the decision.
Foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said he “regrets that [Lovren] was in a hurry to make statements on Sweden’s position regarding recognition of a Palestinian state, apparently before he had time even to study the issue in depth”.
Sweden’s ambassador to Israel, Carl Magnus Nesser, “will be invited for a talk at the foreign ministry in Jerusalem,” Lieberman’s office added.
Lofven, who met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in 2012, addressed his parliament on Friday, saying: “A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and the will to co-exist peacefully.”
Seven other EU members have already recognised a Palestinian state, including Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Romania.Non-EU member Iceland has also done so.
While Lovren’s statement was warmly welcomed by Abbas, the US disagreed with the timing, with US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki saying: “We believe international recognition of a Palestinian state is premature.”