Sweden demands probe of Israeli ‘extrajudicial executions’

Jerusalem rejects foreign minister’s comments as ‘irresponsible and delusional,’ claims they ‘encourage’ terrorism

Margot Wallstrom, Sweden's minister of foreign affairs, in her office in Stockholm, October 31, 2014 (AFP/Jonathan Nackstrand)
Margot Wallstrom, Sweden's minister of foreign affairs, in her office in Stockholm, October 31, 2014 (AFP/Jonathan Nackstrand)

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom on Tuesday called for an investigation to determine whether Israel has been conducting extrajudicial executions of Palestinian attackers throughout the current wave of violence and terrorism. Israel rejected her statement as “delusional.”

“It is vital that there is a thorough, credible investigation into these deaths in order to clarify and bring about possible accountability,” Wallstrom said during a parliamentary debate on extrajudicial executions, Reuters reporting, quoting local media source TT.

Wallstrom made her remarks after lawmaker Jan Björklund charged that the foreign minister’s previous criticisms of Israeli policies vis-a-vis Palestinian attackers were unfair, and that Wallstrom’s approach to the Jewish state damaged Sweden’s diplomatic efforts in the region.

The foreign minister rejected the accusation and asserted that Stockholm was “a friend to Israel just as it is a friend to Palestine.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry fired back in a statement later in the day, calling Wallstom’s comments “irresponsible and delusional,” and claiming they served to “encourage violence and terrorism.”

Over 130 Palestinians have been killed during the recent wave of terrorism and violence, most while carrying out or attempting attacks — in all, Israel has identified 91 of the Palestinians killed as attackers — and others in violent clashes with security forces.

Since the start of the recent violence, at least 25 Israelis have been killed, mostly in stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks.

Israeli officials have maintained that security services are justified in killing suspected attackers, and that making a greater effort to neutralize them without killing them would generate unnecessary risk.

Wallstrom’s comments were denounced Tuesday by former foreign ministers Avigdor Liberman and Tzipi Livni, as well as opposition leader Isaac Herzog.

“The only thing the foreign minister of Sweden hasn’t done is physically join the Palestinian terrorists and stab Jews,” Liberman wrote on Twitter. “Given her conduct so far, we need to hope it won’t happen.”

Livni, meanwhile, urged Sweden to avoid “meddling” in internal Israeli affairs.

“We won’t accept any comparison between our security forces fighting against terror and terrorists,” she said at a speech at Tel Aviv University, according to news site Walla. “Israel has a moral army and strong judicial system, and therefore there’s no chance we will accept Sweden or any other country meddling in our internal affairs.”

Herzog said it was “interesting Sweden didn’t respond in the same way when the Paris police killed the terrorists, as they should have,” referring to the deadly wave of Islamic State terror attacks in France on November 13.

“And how will Sweden respond when terrorists carry out attacks on its land? Will they then also demand to pat them on the heads because they had a tough childhood?” he said.

Wallstrom leveled a similar accusation in an address to the Swedish parliament on December 7. She said Israel’s response to the wave of Palestinian stabbings and car-ramming attacks was “disproportionate,” and suggested the deaths of many attackers during their attacks were tantamount to “extrajudicial executions.”

The Foreign Ministry in Stockholm issued a clarification in the wake of Wallstrom’s December remarks, assuring Israeli officials that she had been misinterpreted. At the time, Netanyahu telephoned his counterpart, Stefan Löfven, to complain about Wallstrom’s comments.

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.

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