Swedish PM’s recognition of Palestine violates law, says legislator

Annicka Engblom files complaint against Stefan Löfven

October 13, 2014 21:05
2 minute read.

Sweden's Prime minister Stefan Lofven announces his new government during a Parliament session in Stockholm October 3. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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BERLIN – Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven may have violated his country’s law by unilaterally recognizing an independent Palestinian state without securing the agreement of the Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs.

In a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post on Monday, Swedish deputy Annicka Engblom, from the center-right Moderaterna (Moderate) party, said she filed a complaint with the parliament’s Committee on the Constitution because the prime minister “violated the law.”

There is a way to handle “issues which have a great impact Swedish foreign policy,” she said. There are procedural steps that must be “taken to recognize a state, especially in a conflict of this magnitude.”

According to Engblom, Löfven should have sent the proposal to recognize a Palestinian state to the Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs, which functions under the parliament and is chaired by the king.

Löfven bypassed the council on Friday, prompting outrage in the parliament.

Some of the deputies “jumped in our seats as we heard the prime minister, because his decision was stated as already made,” Engblom said.

The Committee on the Constitution will convene a hearing in the spring on the prime minister’s recognition of a Palestinians state. If he is found to have violated Swedish law, the committee could reprimand him, and “politically, this is very severe in politics,” Engblom said.

Legislator Marie Granlund, from the prime minister’s Social Democratic Party and deputy chairwoman of the parliament’s Committee on European Union Affairs, did not immediately respond to Post telephone and email queries. She told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper that Löfven’s recognition of “Palestine” was not a decision but a declaration of intent. When the time comes, the decision will “of course” be brought to the Advisory Committee for Foreign Affairs for discussions, she said.

Engblom said that “our practice in Swedish foreign policy is [that for a state to be recognized, it] has to fill certain criteria such as full control over territory and functioning of the government, such as in Kosovo before we recognized Kosovo.”

There are question marks over whether the Palestinian government meets the criteria for a statehood, because “contact between Hamas and Palestinians government makes it difficult,” she said.

When asked whether the difficulty comes from Sweden’s designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization, she said that is one of the impediments to recognition. Deputies “fully understand” why the US objected to Sweden’s premature recognition of a Palestinian state, she said.

Engblom said there has been a lively debate in the Swedish media about the fitness of two Green Party ministers in the coalition government. Sweden’s housing and urban development minister, Mehmet Kaplan, was on board the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara in 2010, which sought to break Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. He has spoken at pro-Palestinian rallies. He has called for the “liberation of Jerusalem.”

His fellow Green Party member, Education Minister Gustav Fridolin, was arrested as a deputy in 2003 in the West Bank for allegedly blocking the construction of the security barrier. He protested along with the pro-Palestinian groups the International Solidarity Movement, Grassroots International and Anarchists against Fences.

Engblom said that in her “personal opinion,” the behavior of MPs of deputies “and now ministers makes it more difficult to advance the Palestinian-Israel conflict” toward a solution.

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