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Swedish politician urges country to recognize Palestine

Feb. 17, 2012 1:02 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 20, 2012 4:16 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The foreign affairs spokeswoman for Sweden's Center Party has called on her country to recognize a Palestinian state and vote for Palestinian membership at the United Nations.

Kerstin Lundgren, writing in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter on Wednesday, said if the country votes against Palestine joining the UN as a full member in a General Assembly vote, it "would definitely break Sweden's ability to contribute to peace and development in the Middle East."

Sweden voted against Palestine's membership of UNESCO in October, which passed when 107 member states voted in favor. But after PLO official Nabil Shaath visited the country in November, he said officials had informed him Sweden would support Palestine at the General Assembly.

The PLO -- currently listed as an observer "entity" with no voting rights -- applied for full membership of the UN on Sept. 23. An admissions committee said on Nov. 11 it had failed to reach an agreement on the bid.

It had been previously suggested that Palestine could instead seek upgraded observer status via the General Assembly to make it a non-member observer state, like the Vatican, although the move has been rejected by Palestinian leaders.

Lundgren noted that decades of negotiations between the a state, Israel, and a non-state, Palestine, had only resulted in the continued occupation of Palestinian lands, while Palestinians have built institutions that are ready for statehood.

"The long period of occupation, with all the changes on the ground that have taken place in the meantime, has brought concern that the world's conduct could be misinterpreted as implied consent for the de facto annexation of the Palestinian territories," she wrote.

"To show respect for every nation's right to self-determination, international law and to clarify that both Palestinians and Israelis have the same right to their own state, now more EU States must also recognize Palestine. Sweden can and should, according to the Center Party's opinion, lead the way."

"Just as we gave support to the popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, now the popular uprising against Israeli occupation and for a Palestinian state, has our support. If this dream is extinguished, we will face an entirely different Arab Spring than the last."
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