Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven (front 2nd L) smiles as he stands with his new government during a news conference in Stockholm
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven (front 2nd L) smiles as he stands with his new government during a news conference in StockholmReuters

Sweden has taken the historic step and officially recognised the state of Palestine.

"Today the government takes the decision to recognise the state of Palestine," foreign minister Margot Wallstrom said. "It is an important step that confirms the Palestinians' right to self-determination. We hope that this will show the way for others.

"The government considers that the international law criteria for recognition of a Palestinian state have been fulfilled."

The US called the measure "premature".

The move was announced last month by prime minister Stefan Lofven during his inaugural address in parliament. He said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be solved through a two-state solution negotiated within the framework of international law. "A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful coexistence. Sweden will therefore recognise the state of Palestine," he said.

It caused a heated reaction by Israel which summoned Sweden's ambassador to protest against what they perceived as an unilateral move.

The UN General Assembly recognised in 2012 Palestine as a non member observer state, paving the way to a wider official recognition from European states. It also required an immediate stop to settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Among the EU members to have recognised the Palestinian state is Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Romania.