Palestine and Sweden have common bonds of long-standing friendship dating back to 1903 when Sweden opened its Consulate in Jerusalem. Relations have developed over the years and was formally manifested by the Swedish Government’s recognition of the State of Palestine on October 30, 2014.
The Embassy of the State of Palestine in Stockholm and the Swedish Consulate General in Jerusalem handle bilateral diplomatic and consular relations and work on enhancing cultural, economic and political dialogue in addition to areas of development cooperation in various fields.
On February 10, 2015 a five-year agreement on Development Cooperation was signed between the two governments.
On May 26, 2016 the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Political, Economic and Cultural dialogue.
Brief History of Palestinian Swedish Relations:
1970s -1983: Fateh Information Office
During the 1970s, the first representation of Palestine in Sweden was through a Fateh Information Office and the Palestinian-Swedish relationship was based on developing ties between Fateh and the Social Democratic Party.
1983-1995: PLO Office
In 1983, following Chairman Yasser Arafat’s first official visit to Stockholm on April 9 of that year, and with the appointment of a new Palestinian representative in Stockholm, the Fateh Information Office became the PLO Office in Sweden. The duties and responsibilities of the new PLO representative also covered all Scandinavian countries, Ireland and Iceland, as well as developing relations with NGOs in Europe and the World Council of Churches.
In the period following 1983, Chairman Arafat visited Stockholm several times. His second official visit took place in 1988, after the Palestinian Declaration of Independence and the PLO’s recognition of UN Security Council Resolutions. More visits followed after the Oslo accords in November 1993, December 1994, January 1996 in November 1998.
1995-2010: Palestinian General Delegation
On December 12, 1994, Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson discussed the status of the PLO Office in Sweden during his talks with Yasser Arafat in Stockholm. In a letter, dated January 12, 1995, from the Minister for Foreign Affairs Lena Hjelm-Wallen to the PLO Representative, she wrote: “I would like to follow this up by confirming what Prime Minister Carlsson stated, i.e. that we welcome the change of the PLO Office into The Palestinian General Delegation. This change can be implemented, as far as we are concerned, with immediate effect. In due course, we will consider granting certain functional privileges to your representation in Sweden.”
Following this status upgrade, the Palestinian General Delegation was included in the Stockholm Diplomatic List in the section of International Organizations and other Representations. The head of the delegation was titled PLO Representative and Delegate General.
August 2010-June 2011: General Delegation of Palestine
The next status upgrade came in a letter dated 24 June, 2010, sent by Robert Rydberg, Head of the MENA Department at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs: “I can confirm that Sweden would, as a step in the upgrading of the Palestinian representation in Sweden, be ready to refer to it as the General Delegation of Palestine”.
Less than a year later, on March 25, 2011, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs stated in a Note Verbal that having earlier “decided to upgrade the status of the Palestinian General Delegation in Sweden in August 2010”, the upgrade also consists of the following parts: “i) the Palestinian General Delegation will henceforth be known as the ‘General Delegation of Palestine’; ii) the title of the Palestinian Delegate-General will henceforth be amended to ‘Ambassador, Head of General Delegation’; iii) the future Palestinian Ambassador, Head of General Delegation, will upon arrival be invited to pay a courtesy visit to the Minister for Foreign Affairs”.
2011 – 2014: Mission of Palestine
On June 27, 2011, the Chief of Protocol at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs sent a formal Note informing that “The upgrade entails that the title of the General Delegation will be amended to ‘Mission of Palestine’, amending the title of ‘Ambassador – Head of General Delegation’ to ‘Ambassador – Head of Mission’. As previously agreed, any letter of appointment from Palestinian authorities would be presented by the Ambassador to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In addition, an audience will be offered for the Ambassador with His Majesty the King as a courtesy call. The upgrade will be entered in the Diplomatic list after the visit by the Ambassador to the Minister for Foreign Affairs”.
One year later, on June 28, 2012, the Host Country Agreement on privileges and immunities was signed between the Government of Sweden and the PLO, to the Benefit of the Palestinian Authority, by Carl Bildt, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the Ambassador of Palestine. This agreement, was endorsed in Parliament by an overwhelming majority on March 7, 2013 and entered into effect on the 1st of June 2013. It accorded the Mission of Palestine and its diplomatic agents “the same privileges and immunities, exemptions and facilities as granted by Swedish authorities to diplomatic missions (and agents) in Stockholm.” Moreover, the Mission’s name was entered in the diplomatic list in alphabetical order under Palestine, and the Ambassador was added to the Ambassadors’ order of precedence list according to the date of presentation of the ambassador’s letter of appointment to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
30 October 2014: Swedish Government’s decision to recognize the State of Palestine:
On 30 October 2014, the Swedish Government headed by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven took the decision to recognize the State of Palestine. The recognition included the nomination of Ambassador and the establishment of diplomatic and consular relations.
The text of the Government decision stated: “The Government’s assessment is that recognition of the State of Palestine will improve the conditions for final status negotiations on an agreement to enable Israel and Palestine to live side by side in peace and security. The Government considers that the conditions required by international law for recognition of the State of Palestine exist. The Government has decided to recognize the State of Palestine.”
On January 30, 2015, the first Ambassador of Palestine presented her Letter of Credence to H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the State of Palestine to the Kingdom of Sweden.
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven invited President Mahmoud Abbas to visit Sweden. On February 10, 2015 President Abbas paid an official visit to the Kingdom during which the Embassy of the State of Palestine was formally opened in Stockholm.