|Countries recognizing the State of Palestine in green, with most recent addition highlighted. Palestine in magenta (circled). Click to enlarge. Map by Evan Centanni, modified from public domain graphic (source).|
Article by Evan Centanni
Palestine declared independence in 1988, and its government continues to pursue recognition as a country today. Though its claimed territories are disputed and largely occupied by Israel, the "State of Palestine" has gathered recognition from more than two-thirds of the world's countries, and is also treated as a country by the U.N. General Assembly, where it is an "Observer State" but not a member.
The number of individual countries recognizing Palestine as independent has grown gradually over the past decades. A year ago we reported that 134 U.N. member states officially recognized Palestine, and as of December 2014 the number is now 135 (70% of all U.N. members). Palestine is also recognized by the proclaimed government of Western Sahara, another disputed country that's not formally recognized by the U.N.
| Country Name: |
• Palestine (English)
• Filasṭīn (Arabic)
• State of Palestine (English)
• Dawlat Filasṭin (Arabic)
• Jerusalem (claimed)
• Ramallah (administrative)
Only one new country has endorsed Palestine's independence in 2014, but it's a big one. On October 30, Palestine was officially recognized by Sweden, a major European country and and member of the European Union (EU). This is a big deal because most of Western Europe does not recognize Palestine, and of the 50-60 total countries worldwide that don't recognize, about half are in Europe.
Palestinian Recognition in Europe
Sweden is the first country to begin recognizing Palestine after becoming a member of of the EU, an organization that tends to take a centrist stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In recent months, legislatures in France, Spain, Ireland, and the UK have also voted in support of recognizing Palestine, but so far none of their governments has followed through with official recognition.
However, Sweden isn't the only EU country that endorses Palestine's claimed independence: Malta, Czechoslovakia, Cyprus, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland all recognized it in 1988, before they became EU members.* Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Serbia, and Albania also retain recognition from 1988, but are not members of the EU. And yet, neither is Sweden the only European country to recognize Palestine since the end of the Cold War. Bosnia recognized in 1992, Montenegro in 2006, and Iceland in 2011.
*After the breakup of Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia inherited their recognition of Palestine, though the current Czech government does its best to ignore that fact, having become a very close ally of Israel. Cyprus, on the other hand, has recently reaffirmed its original position on Palestinian independence.
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Palestine Recognized as a Country by the U.N.
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