Israel recalls envoy to Sweden: ministry

The move came after Stockholm recognized Palestine as a state

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Israel recalled its ambassador to Sweden for “consultations” late on Thursday after Stockholm recognized the state of Palestine and said other European countries would follow its lead.

“This indeed reflects our irritation and annoyance at this unhelpful decision, which does not contribute to a return to (peace) negotiations,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon told AFP.

He said the recall of Ambassador Isaac Bachman was for an unspecified length of time.


Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a statement that Swedish decision was “deplorable” and “strengthens extremist elements and Palestinian rejectionism.”

“The Swedish government must understand that relations in the Middle East are a lot more complex than the self-assembly furniture of IKEA and that they have to act with responsibility and sensitivity.”

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom told reporters her government hoped it would bring a new dynamic to efforts to end decades of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Our decision comes at a critical time because over the last year we have seen how the peace talks have stalled, how decisions over new settlements on occupied Palestinian land have complicated a two-state solution and how violence has returned to Gaza,” she said.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas immediately hailed the decision as “brave and historic” and called for others to follow suit.

Palestinians seek statehood in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as their capital. The land was captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, although Israeli soldiers and settlers pulled out of Gaza in 2005.

Years of efforts to forge a two-state solution have made little progress, with the last effort at negotiations collapsing in April. Palestinians now see little choice but to make a unilateral push for statehood.

A total of 135 countries already recognize Palestine, including several east European countries that did so before they joined the EU.

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