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Sweden: Recognize Palestine, boycott settlement products

Nov. 29, 2012 5:17 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 29, 2012 5:18 P.M.)
By Gabriel Wikström and Evin Incir

Today President Mahmoud Abbas will go before the UN General Assembly to request Palestinian observer status in the UN.

Abbas' initiative is an important step toward ending the oppression and the unstable situation in the region. When UNESCO voted on a Palestinian membership in 2011, Sweden was one of 14 countries that voted against it. The Swedish conservative/liberal government has also been divided on the issue of upgrading the Palestinian status in the UN.

The Palestinian people have lived under oppression and occupation for too long.

SSU, the Social Democratic Youth of Sweden, demands that the Swedish government supports the Palestinians by voting in favor of their request for observer status at the UN. Peace and freedom between Israel and Palestine can only be reached through a free and independent Palestinian state.

As part of a peaceful solution we also welcome all demands, from among others our mother party - the Social Democratic Party of Sweden - to label Israeli settlements products. However, we as young Social Democrats want to go one step further. We want to see a total boycott of all settlement products.

The root of the current situation and the oppression is the Israeli occupation.

The ceasefire that was reached after last week's escalation of violence was saluted by us. But for the ceasefire to be permanent it requires an end to the Israeli occupation and recognition of a free and sovereign Palestinian state.

Also, the Israeli settlements must end, as well as other violations of international law as for example transformation of Gaza strip into the world's largest outdoor prison. The international community has a great responsibility to pressure Israel to respect a two-state solution according to the 1967 borders.

It is a long way to go and many steps need to be taken before peace can be reached. Sweden also has to contribute to the realization of harmony in the region. Partly by voting in favor of a Palestinian observer status at the UN and partly by marking our position against Israel's violations of international law through boycotting Israeli settlement products.

These are two small but important steps as part of a long road towards peace in Israel and Palestine.

Gabriel Wikström is president of the SSU and Evin Incir is responsible for international relations and foreign policy.
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