Church of Sweden

Recognition of Palestine – a step in the right direction

Press Release   •   Oct 06, 2014 18:45 BST

Erik Lysén, Director of international affairsat the Church of Sweden. Photo: Magnus Aronson/IKON

Recognition of Palestine may be an important step to initiate the peace process. In the long term it may lead to a lasting two-state solution, in which Israelis and Palestinians live side by side within safe and recognised borders. These are the words of Erik Lysén, Director of international affairs at the Church of Sweden.

“The Swedish Government’s decision comes in a key course of events as the situation on the ground is deteriorating daily through the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements,” says Erik Lysén.

In August Israel announced its confiscation of nearly 380 hectares in the vicinity of Bethlehem. At the end of September further announcements were made that Israeli authorities had approved the plans for new settlements in Eastern Jerusalem, which was strongly criticised by the EU and the USA.

“Hopefully a Swedish recognition will pave the way for recognition from other countries in the EU. Today about 130 states, including some EU Member States, have recognised Palestine,” says Lysén.

The war during the summer underlined the importance of obtaining a lasting solution to the conflict as soon as possible.

“Such a solution can only be achieved through peaceful means. All breaches of international law in the form of violence and attacks on civilians, irrespective of who carries them out, must cease, and the perpetrators must be the subject of legal proceedings,” says Lysén.

In 2012 the General Synod, the highest decision-making body in the Church of Sweden, decided to urge the Swedish Government to work towards Palestine being accepted as a full member of the UN. The General Assembly accorded Palestine non-Member Observer State status in the UN in November 2012.

The Church of Sweden also thinks that Sweden’s Government should: 

· within the EU, work towards the establishment of legislation that limits the opportunities of, financially or otherwise, supporting the illegal settlements.

· within the EU, work towards ensuring that bilateral agreements between the EU and Israel are not upgraded or entered into without demands for compliance with international law.

· rapidly legislate about labelling the origin of products that come from Israeli settlements in accordance with the EU’s directive.

· work towards achieving an improvement in the humanitarian situation and respect for humanitarian efforts in its bilateral connections with affected authorities.

· actively support continued initiatives for a lasting solution to the conflict.