Sweden’s hurried decision to recognize “Palestine” has generated a diplomatic flurry. Israel believes that such a move hinders any chance for a real solution.
The Foreign Ministry summoned the Swedish ambassador to Israel following Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s statement of recognition of the state of “Palestine.”
The ambassador is expected to be reprimanded on Monday.
Prime Minister-elect Lofven, who became Sweden’s prime minister on October 3, made the statement on Friday, during his inaugural address in parliament. Such a move would make Sweden the first major European Union (EU) country to do so.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman expressed regret over Sweden’s move. The Foreign Ministry stated:
“Lofven must understand that neither declarations nor moves by an outside source can replace direct negotiations between the sides and bring closer a solution that would be part of a comprehensive agreement between Israel and the Arab world.”
Focus on the Real Problems in the Middle East, Israel Advises EU
Liberman further suggested that if Lofven is truly concerned about the Middle East, he should focus on the real problems at hand, such as the daily mass murders in Syria, Iraq, and other countries in the region.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström said over the weekend that she believes “this is an important step towards a two-state solution, and of course we know and understand that this will be accepted with sympathy and criticism.”
The decision met opposition by former Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who has previously chosen not to give support to a UN vote recognizing Palestine. He could not understand what the rush was on the subject, he said.
The Muslim Angle
Zvi Mazel, former Israeli ambassador to Sweden, told Israel’s IDF Radio that a Swedish anti-Israel tradition is what motivates this decision, saying: “This tradition has existed there for decades, a result of various reasons.”
Some Swedes are wary of its growing Muslim population;in the past year alone, the country has accepted over 80,000 Muslims from Iraq and Syria. “We have many problems with this pro-Muslim policy.” Mazel estimated that the decision was not “the end of the world”; however, it may generate a wave of countries that will recognize the so-called state of “Palestine”.
The PLO, as expected, lauded the controversial statement. PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi declared: “The Swedish announcement is in fact a sign of a genuine commitment to justice and the requirements for peace, including the two-state solution on the 1967 boundaries. We hope that other countries in Europe will follow Sweden’s lead.”
The US reacted to the statement by calling the decision “premature.”
The EU’s official position is that a Palestinian state should be established and recognized only as a result of a negotiated process.
Author: Aryeh Savir
Staff Write, United with Israel