Recognition of Palestine: Could Sweden trigger domino effect in EU?

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL October 12, 2014

Graffiti on a wall separating Israel and Palestine. Photo: No Lands Too Foreign, published under a Creative Commons license

The British Parliament returns from recess tomorrow, October 13, and a vote on recognition of Palestine.

International reaction will be predictably fiery, particularly in the US, if the result goes against Israel’s preferred option.

Consider this extraordinary argument against recognition by Abraham Foxman in The Huffington Post.

Mr Foxman, a Holocaust survivor who is National Director of the US’s Anti-Defamation League, wasn’t discussing the promised British vote but Sweden’s recent decision to become the first country in the European Union (EU) to formally recognize the ‘State of Palestine’.

He casts much doubt and many aspersions on the motives of Sweden’s new Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, hinting darkly at the need to play the “Israel card” because of his too-small election win and the fact that Muslims now comprise about eight per cent of Sweden’s population (it absorbed more than 80,000 immigrants from Syria and Iraq this year alone). In other words, political expedience, not principle drove Sweden’s decision to recognize the State of Palestine.

He lists a number of “anti-Semitic attacks” in Sweden, even while acknowledging that his own Anti-Defamation League Global 100 Survey recently found only four per cent of the adult population in Sweden “infected with anti-Semitic attitudes, the lowest finding for Europe.”

Mr Foxman handsomely concedes, “This amounts to just 300,000 people out of a total population of 7.4 million people. Compared with other countries in Europe (France was 37 per cent, Norway and Finland, 15 per cent) this was a remarkably low score”.

But the real thrust of his disapproval of Swedish recognition of the Palestinian state speaks volumes for what could happen in the event it triggers a domino effect across Europe. Which is to say, the UK following Sweden’s recognition; and other EU countries following the UK.

Mr Foxman predicts “repercussions far beyond Scandinavia” of Sweden’s recognition because it “is considered a flag-bearer of human rights, and many countries across Europe respond to its cues. The risk is that other countries in the EU may soon want to follow suit.”


(Tomorrow, ‘UK vote on recognition of Palestine. All change then? Extremely unlikely’)