Swedish-Israeli tensions escalate over killing of Palestinians
by Daily Sabah with Wires
IstanbulJan 15, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah with Wires
Jan 15, 2016 12:00 am
Sweden's foreign minister has called for an independent investigation into whether Israel has carried out extrajudicial killings of Palestinians, pointing to the high number of attackers, and suspected attackers, shot dead. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely, harshly criticized Wallstrom, calling her comments "a mix of blindness and political stupidity." "Israel has decided to close its doors to official Swedish visits," she said. Emmanuel Nahshon, Israel's foreign ministry spokesman, said the Swedish minister had a "twisted view of reality". She does not understand what is taking place in our region where Israelis are exposed to the perpetual dangers of murderous terror attacks," Israeli spokesman added. Israeli energy minister Yuval Steinitz went as far as to call Wallstrom "anti-Semitic, whether consciously or not", and Israel's deputy foreign minister has said Israel will "close its gates" to officials from Sweden.
In response the Swedish foreign ministry said that the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy emphasized in October the importance of closely examining circumstances surrounding Palestinian deaths that result from intervention by Israeli security forces. Wallstrom made the comments on Tuesday while responding to a question in parliament on a controversy raised in December by her statement on the need for Israel to avoid "extrajudicial executions". Wallstrom's remarks were the latest in a series of statements to stoke Israeli resentment that has simmered since the Scandinavian country recognized Palestinian statehood last year.
Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it called in Swedish Ambassador Carl Magnus Nesser to reprimand him over what it deemed "another statement by her (Wallstrom) that attests to her biased and even hostile attitude to Israel". Swedish Foreign Minister Wallstrom will not be welcome in Israel following her call for investigations into the killing of Palestinians by Israeli forces and other critical comments, a top Israeli official said on Wednesday.
Palestinian officials urged all countries to put aside "political fears" and ignore Israel's "systematic state terrorism." It accused Israel of hindering the implementation of international law. Officials condemned Israel's "ferocious campaign and political terrorism" against the Swedish foreign minister. It said the campaign was designed to cover up Israeli "crimes" against the Palestinians. Palestinian Authority also condemned Israel for pursuing its "brutal extrajudicial executions" of Palestinians and renewed its call for an investigation into "war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the government of Benjamin Netanyahu."
Rights groups, including Amnesty International have accused Israel of using excessive force to quell the protests. The United States, the European Union and the United Nations have all expressed concern, saying that restraint is necessary to ensure the violence does not escalate further. Since Oct. 1, 24 Israelis and an American have been killed in the attacks. At the same time, 143 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, most while carrying out attacks. Many of the Palestinian attackers have been young people, including teenagers, Reuters reported. Tensions have been particularly high in Hebron, where several hundred Israeli settlers live under heavy military guard in the heart of the city among about 200,000 Palestinians. Ties between Israel and Sweden plummeted after Stockholm recognised the Palestinian state shortly after Wallstrom's centre-left Social Democrats won a parliamentary election in 2014. In June, 2014, Swedish prosecutors launched an investigation into whether laws were broken in 2010 and 2012 when Israeli soldiers boarded pro-Palestinian vessels shipping humanitarian aid to Gaza. The raids affected 22 Swedish nationals on board the vessels, including author Henning Mankell, known for his best-selling crime novels. Some of the Swedish nationals who filed the complaint were on other vessels in the 2010 flotilla.