IKEA, or the new international dynamics for Palestine.

Palestinian Mission in Sweden

Mission of Palestine in Sweden

Change is sometimes moving imperceptibly, but it always comes in time.

When one approaches the subject of Palestine, it is often difficult to know ‘where to start’. I decide today to simply analyse the last years developments of recognition, the ones I personally remember without having to make research.

The first message that I remember sent for a possible future for Palestine as an independent State was on the 31st of October 2011, in Paris. UNESCO approved full membership for Palestine. This is not without practical consequences. Legally, only States can be members of the UNESCO (a UN specialized agency). Member states voted for recognition as Palestine as one of them, 106 against 14. This already gave the color.

Last week, Sweden recognized Palestine as a State. It is the first EU State to do so. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven made the announcement at his inaugural speech in front of the Parliament ‘“A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence. Sweden will therefore recognize the state of Palestine.

Avigdor Lieberman, Israël’s Foreign Minister gave to the world this interesting diplomatic comment: “The Swedish government needs to understand that relations in the Middle East are more complicated than a piece of furniture from IKEA that you put together yourself, and it should act with responsibility and sensitivity.”  Its Swedish counterpart, Margot Wallstörm, opted for playing that ‘diplomatic game’ and answered “I will be happy to send Israel FM Lieberman an IKEA flat pack to assemble, he’ll see it requires a partner, cooperation and a good manual.”

Sweden became the 135th State to recognize Palestine – out of the 193 UN member states.

Yesterday, the 4th of November, the new EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, issued a statement to the French newspaper Le Monde, saying  “What would make me happy is if a Palestinian state existed at the end of my term.”

Then goes the snow ball effect, last month Britain’s House of Commons called for recognition of Palestine, yesterday Spanish Members of Parliament made the same move, urging Madrid to recognize Palestine.
Today, 5th of November, the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, expressed his position on the question. Recognition of the Palestinian State should not be merely ‘symbolic’, but has to serve the peace process. He still makes a baby step towards the current mainstream position “From the moment when we say that there are two states, there will be recognition of a Palestinian state. That goes without saying, it’s logical” he goes on and explains that “Recognition should be linked to negotiations, but if we reach the point where negotiations are impossible or don’t have any conclusion, France should naturally face its responsibilities.”  In 2012, at the annual dinner of the CRIF (Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France), then President Nicolas Sarkozy was already calling for a two States solution. France always kept a double sided policy when it comes to the Israël – Palestine conflict, supporting both, and now more clearly admitting the necessity of the two State solution, yet not explicitly stating it.

Jerusalem, the city at the heart of the battle, is again tearing itself apart. Palestinians on one side, Israelis on the other. Violence escalated this week on holy sites in East Jerusalem. Jordan recalled its ambassador in Tel Aviv and will make a formal complaint with the UN Security Council over the Israeli actions in the holy city.

Who said that assembling an IKEA furniture was easy?




  1. huszbusz

    Hi, just to correct one error: this article mentions that Sweden is the first EU member to recognize Palestine. Actually this is not true. Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria are all EU members and have all recognized the state of Palestine. Sweden is the first EU member in Western Europe to have done so.


    • mariemd

      Hi Huszbusz,

      Thank you for your comment. Indeed, you are correct, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria did recognize Palestine as a State already. However, they did so before they accessed the European Union, and while they were under the soviet block. Sweden is the first state to recognize statehood for Palestine under the dome of the European Union. This is why this situation is without precedent and is a milestone in the shift of positions for the international recognition of the State of Palestine.


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