staff and news service reports
updated 11/29/2011 2:08:43 PM ET 2011-11-29T19:08:43

The parliament in Iceland on Tuesday passed a motion calling for the recognition of an independent Palestinian state.

The vote paves the way for formal recognition by the small north Atlantic island, which led the way in recognizing the independence of the three Baltic states after the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991.

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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."

Calling it a historic moment, Arni Thor Sigurdsson, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said Iceland should answer the because Palestinians had submitted an application for full membership to the United Nations,, a Icelandic news outlet, reported.

The motion also called the Palestine Liberation Organization the legitimate representative of all the Palestinian people.

The Icelandic parliament passed the resolution by 38 votes in the 63-seat house. The motion backs 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.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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