Sweden will officially recognise state of Palestine

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven made announcement on Friday

Sweden's new centre-left government will become the first major European Union country to recognise the state of Palestine, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven announced on Friday.

Within the EU, some countries, such as Hungary, Poland and Slovakia recognise Palestine, but they did so before joining the 28-member bloc.

The UN General Assembly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine in 2012, but the EU and most EU countries have yet to give official recognition.

"The conflict between Israel can only be solved with a two-state solution, negotiated in accordance with international law," Swedish PM Stefan Lofven said during his inaugural address in parliament.

"A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence. Sweden will therefore recognise the state of Palestine."

The decision is likely to attract strong criticism from Israel, the United States and the EU, which maintain that an independent Palestinian state should only emerge through a negotiated process.

If the centre-left government fulfils its plans, Sweden would be the first country to recognise Palestine while being a member of the EU.

The Social Democrats and Greens hold a minority of seats in parliament and the incoming center-left government is likely to be one of Sweden's weakest for decades.

The former centre-right government would not recognize Palestine as the Palestinian authorities did not control their territory.

The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, with its capital in East Jerusalem.

While Gaza's boundaries are clearly defined, the precise territory of what would constitute Palestine in the West Bank and East Jerusalem will only be determined via negotiations with Israel on a two-state solution, negotiations which are currently suspended.

Additional reporting by Reuters