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The Swedish government became the biggest European nation to recognize the state of Palestine Thursday, in a move the Israeli foreign minister called a “very unfortunate decision,” Haaretz reported.
“Today the government takes the decision to recognize the state of Palestine,” Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said in a statement in the Dagens Nyheter daily.
In his swearing-in earlier this month, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven pledged his government would eventually recognize a Palestinian state. Soon after the Israeli government found out, it summoned the Swedish ambassador to protest the move, according to Haaretz.
Sweden went forward however, making the formal announcement on Thursday “as an important step that confirms the Palestinians’ right to self-determination,” according to a statement.
“We hope that we can make the parties a little less unequal,” Wallstrom told CNN. “[and] that we might inject some new dynamics into the suspended peace talks.”
While the U.S. and European powers have so far refrained from recognizing Palestinian independence, they have become increasingly critical of Israeli settlement construction. The 28-nation European Union has urged that negotiations to achieve a two-state solution resume as soon as possible.
In a symbolic move, British lawmakers earlier this month voted in favor of recognizing Palestine as a state.
“The Swedish government needs to understand that relations in the Middle East are more complicated than a piece of furniture from IKEA that you assemble at home,” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Haaretz, “and should act with responsibility and sensitivity.”
In response to Lieberman’s comments, Wallstrom quipped (via NPR): “I will be happy to send Israel Foreign Minister Lieberman an IKEA flat pack to assemble. He’ll see it requires a partner, cooperation and a good manual.”
Veteran Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) had some harsh words for the Republican Party during a Thursday campaign rally for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).
As he has done repeatedly before, Rangel compared some members of the GOP to confederates from the Civil War era. But at the Thursday evening event, he added that they “believe slavery isn’t over.”
“We have to win. We have to be able to send a national message with Andrew Cuomo. And the thing is everything we believe in —everything we believe in — they hate. They don’t disagree — they hate! They think if you didn’t come from Europe 30 years ago, you didn’t even make it. Some of them believe that slavery isn’t over and they and think they won the Civil War!” Rangel shouted.
In contrast, Rangel said the Democratic Party was doing “God’s work” on issues important to the American people.
“And so what we have to do is send a collective voice,” he said of the upcoming midterm elections. “Everything we’re doing is God’s work: education, healthcare, affordable housing, discrimination, paying people the minimum wage.”