Iceland has become the first Western European nation to recognize Palestine as an independent state. A resolution to recognize Palestine as "an independent and sovereign state" based on borders predating the Six Day War of 1967 passed the country's parliament with 38 of 63 votes. Iceland's foreign affairs minister says the vote has given him the authority to make a formal declaration on the government's behalf, but before doing so he will discuss the move with other Nordic countries.
The resolution—which coincided with the United Nation's annual day of solidarity with the Palestinian people—recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization as the legal authority for a Palestinian state, and urged Israel and Palestine to reach a peace agreement. The vote comes shortly after the Palestinians successfully gained admission to the United Nations' cultural agency UNESCO. Iceland and Norway joined 11 European Union members to support that move, which was part of a larger effort by Palestine to gain recognition as a state in the world body. (Read more Iceland stories.)