US: Sweden 'premature' to recognize Palestine

Palestinian children place their national flag on the rubble of a building in Khan Yunis which was destroyed during the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, on October 1, 2014 (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

Washington (AFP) - The United States said Friday it would be "premature" to recognize a new Palestinian state, after Sweden said it was planning to as part of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"We believe international recognition of a Palestinian state is premature," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters when asked about Sweden's decision.

"We certainly support Palestinian statehood, but it can only come through a negotiated outcome, a resolution of final status issues and mutual recognitions by both parties."

Israelis and the Palestinians, Psaki said, must be the ones "to agree on the terms on how they live in the future two states, living side-by-side."

According to an AFP count, at least 112 countries around the world have recognized a Palestinian state. A Palestinian count puts the number at 134.

Among EU members, countries that have recognized a Palestinian state include Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Romania and Iceland.

Sweden's new prime minister Stefan Loefven said Friday in his inaugural address to parliament that "a two-state solution requires mutual recognition and the will to co-exist peacefully."

This should take place with respect for the "legitimate demands of the Palestinians and the Israelis as regards their right to self-determination and security", he added.

Loefven's Social Democratic-Green Party coalition -- which formed a minority government on Friday -- is more supportive of demands for a Palestinian state than the previous center-right administration.

Sweden voted in favor of Palestinian observer status at the United Nations in 2012, which was granted despite opposition from the United States and other countries.

The Swedish announcement coincided with the start of the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, and an Israeli government spokesman was not immediately available for comment.