Israel summons Sweden envoy over Palestinian state

A Palestinian man walks outside the Consulate General of Sweden in Jerusalem, on Oct 5, 2014. The Israeli foreign ministry on Monday summoned Sweden's ambassador to protest over Stockholm's declared intention to recognise a Palestinian state. --
A Palestinian man walks outside the Consulate General of Sweden in Jerusalem, on Oct 5, 2014. The Israeli foreign ministry on Monday summoned Sweden's ambassador to protest over Stockholm's declared intention to recognise a Palestinian state. -- PHOTO: AFP

JERUSALEM (AFP) - The Israeli foreign ministry on Monday summoned Sweden's ambassador to protest over Stockholm's declared intention to recognise a Palestinian state.

Ambassador Carl Magnus Nesser was called in by the ministry's deputy director general for Europe, Aviv Shir-On, who "protested and expressed Israel's disappointment" after Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Loefven announced his intention to recognise a Palestinian state, the ministry said.

Shir-On warned that such a move would "not contribute to the relations between Israel and the Palestinians, but in fact worsen them." The premier's remarks "diminish the chances of reaching an agreement, since they create among the Palestinians an unfeasible expectation of being able to reach their goal unilaterally and not through negotiations with Israel," he added.

Israel has long insisted that the Palestinians can only receive their promised state through direct negotiations and not through other diplomatic channels.

He said the newly-elected Swedish premier's decision to focus on the Palestinian issue was "strange" given the turmoil, wars and "daily acts of horror" taking place in the region.

The Swedish embassy in Israel did not comment on the meeting, which took place three days after Loefven's announcement during his inaugural address to parliament.

Over the weekend, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also denounced Loefven's remarks in which he said recognition would be a step towards resolving the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to coexist peacefully. Therefore, Sweden will recognise the State of Palestine," Loefven said on Friday, without saying when the step would be taken.

Sweden voted in favour of the Palestinians obtaining the rank of observer state at the United Nations in 2012, which was granted despite opposition from the United States, Israel and other countries.