Iceland’s parliament voted on Tuesday in favor of recognizing the Palestinian Territories as an independent state, the first Western European country to do so according Iceland’s foreign minister.
The vote paves the way for formal recognition by the small north Atlantic island, which led the way in recognising the independence of the three Baltic states after the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991.
“Iceland is the first Western European country to take this step,” Foreign Minister Össur Skarphedinsson told Icelandic state broadcaster RUV. “I now have the formal authority to declare our recognition of Palestine.”
The Icelandic parliament decided by 38 votes in the 63-seat house to back a resolution allowing for the recognition of a Palestinian state within the borders of the Six Day War of 1967.
“At the same time, parliament urges Israelis and Palestinians to seek a peace agreement on the basis of international law and U.N. resolutions, which include the mutual recognition of the state of Israel and the state of Palestine,” said the resolution, proposed by the foreign minister.
It also called on all sides to cease any violence and recalled the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.
Iceland’s recognition, however, is expected to amount to a little more than symbolic step as the Palestinian Authority strives to get United Nations recognition. Its quest for a seat at the international body has so far failed.
Reporting by Omar Valdimarsson, writing by Patrick Lannin.