Sweden has officially recognised the state of Palestine, Stockholm's foreign minister has said, less than a month after the government announced its intention to make the unprecedented move.
The Palestinians cheered Thursday's move, while Israel recalled its ambassador to Sweden for consultations.
Israel also summoned Sweden's ambassador to protest and express disappointment.
Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallstrom, told Al Jazeera that recognising Palestine, and the leadership of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, would put each party on a level playing field and help move peace talks forward.
|Recognising Palestine will 'help peace talks go forward'
"It is important to support those who believe in negotiations and not violence," she said.
"This will give hope to young Palestinians and Israelis that there is an alternative to violence."
President Abbas hailed the "brave and historic" move to officially recognise the state of Palestine, his spokesman told the AFP news agency.
Sweden is the first EU member state in Western Europe to recognise the Palestinian state.
Seven EU members in eastern European and the Mediterranean have already recognised a Palestinian state - Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland, and Romania.
Non-EU member Iceland is the only other western European nation to have done so.
Israel has long insisted that the Palestinians can only receive their promised state through direct negotiations and not through other diplomatic channels.
The United States cautioned Sweden against recognition, calling it "premature" and saying the Palestinian state could only come through a negotiated solution between Israelis and Palestinians.
In Thursday's announcement, Sweden's foreign minister said that "the government considers that international law criteria for recognition of a Palestinian state have been fulfilled".
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies