Israel recalls Sweden envoy over Palestine recognition
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Israel recalls Sweden envoy over Palestine recognition

‘Abbas is looking for a way not to return to the negotiating table, and Sweden just gave him a perfect excuse,’ diplomat charges

Israeli Ambassador to Sweden Isaac Bachman. (photo credit: YouTube/Israels Ambassad)
Israeli Ambassador to Sweden Isaac Bachman. (photo credit: YouTube/Israels Ambassad)

Israeli recalled its ambassador to Sweden on Thursday after Stockholm recognized the State of Palestine, the first major European Union member to do so.

Ambassador Isaac Bachman is to hold consultations with Foreign Minister Avidgor Liberman, the ministry said.

A Foreign Ministry source told The Times of Israel that the decision by Sweden was playing into the hands of the Palestinians by helping Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas avoid the compromises he would be required to make in peace talks.

“Abbas is looking for a way not to return to the negotiating table, and Sweden just gave him a perfect excuse,” the source said, adding that the recognition was especially annoying as it came the day after a Palestinian shot a Jewish right-wing activist in Jerusalem and a week after a terror attack in the capital in which two people died when a Palestinian drove a car into a crowd of pedestrians waiting at a light rail stop.

According to a report in the daily Haaretz, Liberman is also considering downgrading diplomatic relations with Sweden.

In an interview with Israel Radio, Bachman said Stockholm had tried to persuade other European countries to follow its lead, but was unsuccessful.

Bachman said the Swedish government had a simplistic view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But Swedish leaders defended the move. “It’s an important step that confirms the right of Palestinians to self-determination,” Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallström wrote Thursday in a newspaper article. “Sweden’s traditionally close ties with the State of Israel are now complemented by an equal relationship to the other party.”

Liberman called the recognition “unfortunate” and said in a statement that it would only serve to strengthen the Palestinians’ “unrealistic demands.”

With the recognition, Stockholm became the first European Union capital to put its full weight behind the Palestinian claim to statehood.

London’s Parliament voted in favor of a Palestinian state earlier this month, but that move was mostly symbolic.

The Netherlands’ ambassador to Israel, Caspar Veldkamp said that his country will not follow the lead of Sweden and that recognition of a Palestinian state will only come at the end of negotiations. Veldkamp called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to take steps that will help create a positive atmosphere and to restart negotiations.

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