Sweden became the first major western country to recognize a Palestinian state on Thursday, triggering a sharp response from Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman who recalled Israel ambassador to Sweden Isaac Bachman to Jerusalem for consultations to protest Sweden’s recognition Thursday of “Palestine.” Sweden is the first major western country to do so.
Stockholm needs to understand relations in the Middle East are more complicated than self-assembly furniture at IKEA, said Liberman. He termed the move an “unfortunate decision that strengthens the extremists.”
Liberman said the only chance at reaching an agreement was through negotiations, and that these types of moves strengthen the unrealistic Palestinian demands and serve to push any agreement further away.
“It is a pity the Swedish government has chosen to adopt the measure that does a lot of damage and has no benefits,” he said.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström issued a statement saying Sweden hoped the move will “facilitate a peace agreement by making the parties less unequal, supporting the moderate Palestinian forces and contributing to hope at a time when tensions are increasing and no peace talks are taking place.”
“The purpose of Sweden’s recognition is to contribute to a future in which Israel and Palestine can live side by side in peace and security. We want to contribute to creating more hope and belief in the future among young Palestinians and Israelis who might otherwise run the risk of believing that there is no alternative to the current situation,” she said.
Officials in Jerusalem said that the Swedish move had to do more with internal politics than with Israel and the Palestinians.
The move comes just three weeks after a Social Democrat-led minority government took power. Two years ago, the officials said, the party promised that it would recognize “Palestine” if it took over power, as a way of luring the country’s substantial Muslim population to the country’s center and left parties. Muslims make up an estimated 6.5 percent of the population.
Israeli officials said that it was absurd that the government, which has been in power for less than a month and had not yet warmed up their seats, was “trying to play in the international arena.”
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.
via The Jerusalem Post