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Israel to summon Sweden’s envoy over Palestine recognition

Deputy FM says such gestures without any PA concessions makes peace less, not more, likely

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks during the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee meeting at the Knesset discussing Operation Protective Edge on August 4, 2014. (photo credit: Flash 90)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks during the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee meeting at the Knesset discussing Operation Protective Edge on August 4, 2014. (photo credit: Flash 90)

Israel’s Foreign Ministry will summon Sweden’s ambassador to Israel to protest Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s announcement in his inaugural speech that his government would recognize the State of Palestine.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzahi Hanegbi said Saturday evening that actions such as the planned Swedish recognition would hurt peacemaking efforts rather than strengthen them.

“The more international support the Palestinians receive without being required to negotiate and without paying their due in mutual concessions, the less likely an accord becomes,” he told Israel Radio.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a statement Saturday that “If the situation in the Middle East is what concerns the Swedish prime minister in his inaugural speech, he would be better off focusing on more pressing matters in the region such as the daily mass killings taking place in Syria, Iraq and other places.”

The move by Sweden’s new government would make it the first member of the European Union to recognize a Palestinian state.

Lofven said “the conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be solved with a two-state solution, negotiated in accordance with international law.”

“The two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to co-exist peacefully. Sweden will therefore recognize the state of Palestine,” he added.

He didn’t say when or how that would happen.

Several European countries including Hungary, Slovakia and Romania have given their recognition of Palestine as a state but did so before they became members of the EU.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is set to ask the UN Security Council to vote on a resolution that would seek an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines in a timeframe of two years.

In November 2012, the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status to “non-member observer state.”

PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki welcomed Lofven’s announcement and called on other European Union countries to follow suit.

“In the name of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership, we thank and salute the Swedish position,” Malki said in a statement.

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psakia said the US looks forward to working with the new government of Sweden — a close partner — but called international recognition of a Palestinian state “premature.”

“We believe that the process is one that has to be worked out through the parties to agree on the terms of how they’ll live in the future of two states living side-by-side,” she said.

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