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PM accuses Sweden of hypocrisy over Israeli response to terror

Netanyahu slams Stockholm for silence on the handling of Paris, California attacks after Wallstrom’s reported condemnation of Jewish state

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a Likud faction meeting at the Knesset on December 7, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a Likud faction meeting at the Knesset on December 7, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday charged Sweden with a double standard after the Swedish foreign minister last week accused Israel of carrying out “extrajudicial executions” of Palestinian attackers, but made no such complaint against the French and US authorities in their bringing down of the terrorists who carried out the attacks in San Bernardino and Paris.

“There isn’t one moral standard for Israel and one for the rest of the world,” Netanyahu told a meeting of his Likud parliamentary faction. “We will continue to fight against terrorism, and hypocrisy.”

The prime minister did, however, say he was “happy to see [Margot Wallstrom] admit on Swedish TV that her remarks were misunderstood, and that she had no evidence to back up her claims.”

Responding furiously to Wallstrom’s reported comments, Netanyahu had warned his Swedish counterpart Stefan Löfven in a phone call Sunday against applying double standards to terror attacks in Israel and other countries.

On Friday, Wallstrom told the Swedish parliament that Israel was conducting extrajudicial executions of Palestinian stabbers, according to a report in Haaretz.

Sweden's Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallstrom gives a statement to media on the Paris terrorist attacks, Stockholm, Sweden, November 14, 2015. (AFP/ TT NEWS AGENCY / HENRIK MONTGOMERY)
Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallstrom gives a statement to media on the Paris terrorist attacks, Stockholm, Sweden, November 14, 2015. (AFP/ TT NEWS AGENCY / HENRIK MONTGOMERY)

The foreign minister condemned the recent spate of stabbing attacks by Palestinians against Israelis, but went on to claim Israel’s response was excessive and, as proof, pointed to the higher number of Palestinian casualties compared to Israeli ones.

Israel’s response involved “extrajudicial executions,” she was quoted as saying, and was “disproportionate, so the number of dead on the other side is greater than the original death toll by several degrees.”

Jerusalem slammed the Swedish diplomat’s remarks as “delusional” and said Wallstrom’s sentiments would only serve to promote terrorism.

“It’s an outrageous statement. Delusional, impudent and detached from reality,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday, according to Haaretz. “The foreign minister of Sweden is proposing that Israeli citizens present their necks to the very murderers who want to stick their knives in.”

The ministry stressed that Israeli civilians and security forces maintained the right to defend themselves against terrorism, and said its legal system guaranteed a fair judicial process for everyone.

“In Israel, every criminal is brought to court, including terrorists,” the Foreign Ministry said. “Israeli citizens are dealing with terrorism, which gets a boost from such irresponsible and mendacious statements.”

The Foreign Ministry in Stockholm on Friday issued a clarification of Wallstrom’s remarks, saying they had been misinterpreted.

“The foreign minister never said that Israel is carrying out extrajudicial executions,” Wallstrom’s office said. “The foreign minister made a general statement about international law and the right to self-defense, and the importance of proportionality and judiciousness. She was referring to both sides.”

Sweden has been among the countries most critical of Israel’s handling of the conflict with the Palestinians. Following the November 13 attacks in Paris, in which terrorists killed 130 people, Wallstrom asserted that the attacks were rooted in the frustration of Muslims in the Middle East, including that of Palestinians.

Sweden recognized the state of Palestine on October 30, 2014, a move that was widely criticized by Israel.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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