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Sweden’s recognition of Palestine will license activists

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Contributors to this site have long observed and commented upon the emergence of one major, likely decisive, development in the history of the conflict between Palestinians and Zionists in Palestine/Israel. Sometime around 2008 the American monopoly on the conflict’s management began to splinter. Condoleezza Rice’s memorable abstention from voting on UNSC Resolution 1860, and Ehud Olmert’s subsequent crowing, may have heralded the change. Possibly, it was the shocking savagery of Israel’s massacre in 2008/2009; America’s apparent inability to stop the slaughter may have forced an internal reckoning in Western European capitals. Whatever, it is now true that few interested governments are prepared to trust Congress (which crafts foreign policy on Palestine, after all) to work in good faith to end the conflict. A fact underscored by Washington’s impotence in the face of Israel’s latest massacre in Gaza.

The thinly-reported news out of Sweden reinforces that perception. On Friday Oct. 3rd, Stefan Löfven’s new government announced that the country would be the first EU member-state to formally recognize Palestine, a move that precedes an Oct. 13 vote by British MPs on whether to adopt a similar policy.

Tel Aviv’s response was unusually lame and half-hearted. The droopy announcement that the Swedish ambassador had been summoned for consultation seemed laden with resignation. Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Foreign Minister and leader of the fascist Yisrael Beitenu party, strangely and uncharacteristically suggested that negotiations were the way forward:

“The Swedish prime minister needs to understand that any declaration and any step by an external element will not be an alternative to direct negotiations between the sides and to a solution that is part of an inclusive arrangement between Israel and the Arab world,” Lieberman added. “If what concerned the Swedish prime minister in his inaugural speech was the situation in the Middle East, he should have focused on the morning burning issues in the region, like the daily mass murder happening in Syria, Iraq and other places in the region.”

Sweden’s recognition is meaningful for two reasons. As a well-regarded participant and leader on many global moral challenges, the country’s decision telegraphs and legitimates a normative shift. Israel is no longer regarded as working hard to find a friendly guide through the wilderness. Rather, it is willfully and intently pursuing criminal policies with black-razor determination. There is no tragedy here; there is only malice.

The second benefit goes directly to the way in which Sweden’s move makes BDS accessible to national governments. The practice of foreign policy can sometimes be conservative, rules-driven, and evolutionary in nature. Obama’s refusal to identify the Sisi coup in Egypt as such was primarily about avoiding a legally-mandated set of actions. Similarly, by recognizing Palestine Löfven enables radical activism through a different set of rules-bound channels. Palestine, which will never be a real country, will have its claims recognized in state-to-state forums. A modestly more competent and courageous set of leaders – admittedly a tall order for the Palestinians – will be free to pursue sanctions and censure thereafter.

It is an eventuality that Lieberman cannot but observe and contemplate. Sidelong glances at Putin’s Russia must underline the times’ ill portents for the Moldovan.

 

Ahmed Moor

Ahmed Moor is a Palestinian-American who was born in the Gaza Strip. He is a PD Soros Fellow, co-editor of After Zionism and co-founder and CEO of liwwa.com. Twitter: @ahmedmoor

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43 Responses

  1. just on October 7, 2014, 10:12 am

    Thanks Ahmed.

    I read this today:

    “JERUSALEM (AFP) — The Israeli foreign ministry on Monday summoned Sweden’s ambassador to protest over Stockholm’s declared intention to recognize a Palestinian state.

    Ambassador Carl Magnus Nesser was called in by the ministry’s deputy director general for Europe, Aviv Shir-On, who “protested and expressed Israel’s disappointment” after Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Loefven announced his intention to recognize Palestine, the ministry said.

    Shir-On warned that such a move would “not contribute to the relations between Israel and the Palestinians, but in fact worsen them.”

    The premier’s remarks “diminish the chances of reaching an agreement, since they create among the Palestinians an unfeasible expectation of being able to reach their goal unilaterally and not through negotiations with Israel,” he added.

    Israel has long insisted that the Palestinians can only receive their promised state through direct negotiations and not through other diplomatic channels.”
    more:

    http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=731834

    They do act with extreme malice.

    • jimby on October 9, 2014, 2:01 pm

      I wonder if the Ambassador was made to sit on a low stool.

  2. ckg on October 7, 2014, 10:14 am

    Ali Abunimah writes “By recognizing ‘State of Palestine,’ Sweden could harm Palestinians.”

    As I have explained in my book The Battle for Justice in Palestine and in an article for Al-Shabaka recognition of a Palestinian “state” in a fraction of Palestine actually negates the rights of most Palestinians and conflicts with the Palestinian right of self-determination.

    While recognizing the “State of Palestine” excites and pleases many people who support the Palestinian cause, people should not to get carried away with the aesthetics of “statehood” in what would amount to a bantustan.

    Instead, I have argued, they should focus on the negative consequences for the right of return and the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel.

    So from my perspective, I do not see recognition of a Palestinian “state” in the context of the so-called two-state solution as anything to celebrate. Indeed, it may well be harmful to Palestinians in the long run.

    http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/recognizing-state-palestine-sweden-could-harm-palestinians

    In apartheid South Africa, the Pretoria government strove to see that its bantustans were internationally recognized as independent. The international community wisely did not concur.

    • Krauss on October 7, 2014, 2:48 pm

      All good points.

      Although it should also be added that the latest news is that the new government has somewhat backtracked its position, which could explain why Lieberman’s statement was so muted, as he could have had advance knowledge of the matter.

      Nevertheless, it’s a sign of the times. And a good sign of the times.

    • Pixel on October 7, 2014, 3:57 pm

      .
      Abunimah has nothing to worry about.

      There are never going to be two states.

      The time for that has long passed.

    • German Lefty on October 8, 2014, 5:46 am

      “Recognition of a Palestinian ‘state’ in a fraction of Palestine actually negates the rights of most Palestinians and conflicts with the Palestinian right of self-determination.”

      Yes, that was my first thought exactly!

  3. Marnie on October 7, 2014, 10:28 am

    “The Swedish prime minister needs to understand that any declaration and any step by an external element will not be an alternative to direct negotiations between the sides and to a solution that is part of an inclusive arrangement between Israel and the Arab world,” Lieberman added. “If what concerned the Swedish prime minister in his inaugural speech was the situation in the Middle East, he should have focused on the morning burning issues in the region, like the daily mass murder happening in Syria, Iraq and other places in the region.”

    Another israeli leader telling the leader of another other he doesn’t know what he is doing and can’t do anything anyway without kissing the large ass of israel and more importantly, quit focusing on JSIS and watch ISIS.
    Is there any law to stop any government from recognizing Palestine? What about just talking to Abbas or Hamas? Can’t they speak face to face?

  4. pabelmont on October 7, 2014, 10:53 am

    The Swedish PM should answer Israel’s blather about negotiations by saying that, as matters stand, Israel is not prepared to negotiate toward a “just and lasting peace” and in order for Israel to become ready, it must either end its occupation of Palestinian lands or bring its occupations into conformance with international humanitarian law by removing all settlers, demolishing the wall and all the settlements, and ending the blockade on Gaza.

    And he should say this with maximum persuasiveness and publicity to the EU in particular.

    • eljay on October 7, 2014, 11:05 am

      >> pabelmont @ October 7, 2014, 10:53 am

      Good post.

      >> pabelmont: … Israel is not prepared to negotiate toward a “just and lasting peace” …

      Israel wants “peace”, but it has no interest in justice, accountability or equality. When the Palestinians are prepared to sign everything away and give “peace” to Israel, Israel will be prepared to negotiate.

  5. Sycamores on October 7, 2014, 11:09 am

    including the Palestinian refugees Right of Return

  6. lysias on October 7, 2014, 11:21 am

    Does Sweden have monuments to Count Bernadotte?

    One does wonder what was really behind the assassinations of Olof Palme and Anna Lindh. (Although a U.S. and NATO link with the assassinations seems more probable than an Israeli link.)

    • lysias on October 7, 2014, 11:25 am

      Although it was in Venezuela, not Sweden, the murder of Venezuelan rising Chavista politician Roberto Serra and his partner a few days ago looks like another probable CIA-linked hit.

  7. HarryLaw on October 7, 2014, 12:50 pm

    It ain’t over till the fat lady sings, In a telephone conversation with Israel’s opposition leader Isaac Herzog, Lofven stressed that a Swedish recognition of Palestine would only be approved after rigorous talks on the matter with Israeli, Palestinian, and US officials, Haaretz reported.
    “We will not recognize Palestine as a state tomorrow morning,” he assured Herzog. “We want to speak beforehand with all relevant parties, including Israel, the Palestinians, the United States and other EU countries.” http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-rebukes-swedish-envoy-for-palestine-recognition-talk/
    Just as interesting will be the UK Parliaments debate on recognition of the state of Palestine coming up later this month, the Labour opposition are on record as supporters of recognition, such recognition would go a long way in changing the Governments position.

    • nettee on October 7, 2014, 3:10 pm

      One can only hope and pray that Sweden will have the testicular fortitude to prevail.
      There will be a lot of arm-twisting and teeth-gnashing in the background,a done deal this is not yet.
      But it’s a GREAT start!

  8. eljay on October 7, 2014, 12:59 pm

    >> “We will not recognize Palestine as a state tomorrow morning,” he assured Herzog. “We want to speak beforehand with all relevant parties, including Israel, the Palestinians, the United States and other EU countries.”

    If Sweden decides not to recognize Palestine as a state, I hope Mr. Löfven chooses to divulge the specifics of his discussions with “relevant parties”.

  9. Kay24 on October 7, 2014, 1:20 pm

    The UK will also be voting on this matter this month. Chances are, like the US, the lobbies will see that it will not pass.

    • HarryLaw on October 7, 2014, 2:19 pm

      I understand your pessimism Kay but the issue of self determination is fundamental, it is not dependent on another state’s approval, still less that approval being dependent on the outcome of a negotiating process, which by the way is not happening in any case. I suspect the UK vote will be in favor.

      • Kay24 on October 7, 2014, 4:44 pm

        I sincerely hope you are right HarryLaw. One thing going for the UK is, they have great politicians who stand up and slam Israel without fear or intimidation.

      • catporn on October 7, 2014, 8:44 pm

        Backbench Labour MP Grahame Morris who submitted the application http://grahamemorrismp.co.uk/?p=3809 seems to think Ed Miliband will back the motion, if true it could pass.
        Fingers toes and eyes crossed.

  10. ToivoS on October 7, 2014, 1:21 pm
    • Citizen on October 7, 2014, 3:15 pm

      Soda Stream’s stock has dropped 20% according to Fox Business News early this morning.

  11. Kay24 on October 7, 2014, 1:25 pm

    It seems the US withdrawing from Iraq did affect the Israeli economy. Now we can understand why we were prodded into wars.

    Israeli arms exports drop nearly $1 billion in 2013
    Analysts cite exit of U.S.-led forces from Iraq, Afghanistan, competition for drone sales, decreasing defense budgets worldwide.

    Israeli defense exports fell by almost $1 billion last year, a very rare decline reflecting declining defense budgets worldwide.

    Haaretz

    All together now..awwww…..

    • Atlantaiconoclast on October 7, 2014, 11:11 pm

      Yes, the war in Iraq was never for oil, but for Israel. The push for war against Syria and Iran have nothing to do with Israel’s “security” and everything to do with its desire to maintain its monopoly on nuclear technology and along with Turkery, its monopoly of an oil pipeline. Iran, Iraq and Syria agreed several years ago to create a pipeline that would bypass the Turkish and Israeli lines, so Israel and Turkey have been trying to destabilize Syria every chance they get.

  12. joemowrey on October 7, 2014, 1:26 pm

    “America’s apparent inability to stop the slaughter…” in reference to the 2008/2009 massacre, and “Washington’s impotence in the face of Israel’s latest massacre in Gaza,” in reference to this summer’s carnage is so far off base as to be laughable. To suggest or imagine that the U.S. is anything but a partner and willing participant in these bouts of ethnocide that take place in Gaza is absurd. We aren’t unable, nor are we impotent. As Glenn Greenwald points out in the article linked here, we are financing, encouraging and participating in the slaughter.

    Ahmed Moor knows better. So why does he make these ridiculous remarks in this article?

  13. Citizen on October 7, 2014, 3:08 pm

    Netanyahy slams Sweden and says US criticism of latest settlement plans is “un-American:”
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4577961,00.html

    • Kay24 on October 7, 2014, 4:48 pm

      Then according to Netty, Sweden’s recognition of Palestine will be labelled un-Swedish values too. Heh.
      Netty is really good at making BS accusation.

  14. Pixel on October 7, 2014, 3:53 pm

    .

    …proud to be Swedish-American.

    • RoHa on October 7, 2014, 10:43 pm

      Why? What has the decision of the Swedish Government got to do with you? Did you lobby them into recognition?

  15. lysias on October 7, 2014, 5:10 pm

    “What peace process?” Swedish Foreign Minister’s response to critique that Sweden recognizing Palestine undermined peace talks.

    • just on October 7, 2014, 6:07 pm

      Thanks lysias.

      A PM after my own heart!

      • just on October 7, 2014, 6:08 pm

        whoops– FM!

  16. Justpassingby on October 8, 2014, 3:52 am

    I wouldnt be so sure that they will recognize it after all condemnations.

  17. Talkback on October 8, 2014, 8:42 am

    “The Swedish prime minister needs to understand that any declaration and any step by an external element will not be an alternative to direct negotiations between the sides and to a solution that is part of an inclusive arrangement between Israel and the Arab world,”

    Does that include declaring the recognition of Israel, too? Or is this an example of Palestinian hating double standards?

  18. Dutch on October 8, 2014, 10:44 am

    The Swedes have started a petition for support of their government.
    https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Support_the_new_Swedish_government_Recognise_the_state_of_Palestine

  19. lysias on October 8, 2014, 10:47 am

    The new Swedish government is not backing down. Aljazeera: Sweden rebuffs the US on Palestine:

    When told of the U.S. response, [Prime Minister] Löfven stated that recognition of Palestine was an important component for driving discussions forward and that Sweden’s new position should hardly have come as a surprise. The new Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström, on the other hand, dismissed any suggestion of an anti-Israel sentiment in Sweden and was pointed in her response to the U.S. critique: “The USA doesn’t decide our policy.

    • lysias on October 8, 2014, 10:56 am

      Disturbing that the neo-Nazi Sweden Democrats got 13% of the vote in the recent elections in Sweden, and are now the third largest party. No surprise that these neo-Nazis are pro-Israel and anti-Muslim.

    • just on October 8, 2014, 5:24 pm

      Super news!

      • just on October 8, 2014, 5:25 pm

        I meant your first post @ 1027, lysias.

    • American on October 9, 2014, 9:21 pm

      ” “The USA doesn’t decide our policy.”

      That to me is the most important statement made.
      If other countries would join in refusing to be dictated to on I/P by the US then we might get somewhere.
      The Us cant bomb all of Europe for Israel.

      • American on October 9, 2014, 9:23 pm

        ps edit button please I cant type worth a darn and meant ‘cant’ bomb europe .

      • lysias on October 10, 2014, 3:55 pm

        I hope the new Swedish government also resists the U.S. pressure to go after Assange, and drops the charges.

  20. Vera Gottlieb on October 9, 2014, 12:24 pm

    Poor Bibi…so uncomfortable in his twisted knickers! Bravo Sweden! We need more countries with the backbone to stand up to the Zionists.

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