Jerusalem: Israel recalled its ambassador to Sweden Thursday to protest the Scandinavian country`s decision to recognise a Palestinian state, an Israeli foreign ministry source said.
Yitzhak Bachman, Israel`s ambassador in Stockholm, was "brought back for consultations", according to the source, following Sweden `s announcement earlier Thursday. Bachman will return to Jerusalem until further notice.
The source added that the Israeli foreign minister would consider whether to send the ambassador back to Sweden or not eventually. The diplomatic relations between the two countries would be demoted if the ambassador does not return.
Sweden is the first major Western country to recognise a Palestinian state. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom told reporters that the motivation behind the act was "to facilitate a peace agreement by making the parties less unequal, supporting the moderate Palestinian forces and contributing to hope when tensions are increasing and no peace talks are taking place", the Jerusalem Post cited her as saying in an official statement.
Wallstrom added that the move aimed "to contribute to a future in which Israel and Palestine can live side by side in peace and security... creating more hope and belief in the future among young Palestinians and Israelis who might otherwise run the risk of believing there is no alternative to the current situation".
The Swedish foreign minister also stressed the importance of the timing of the decision, as "the peace talks have stalled (and) decisions over new settlements on occupied Palestinian land have complicated a two-state solution and how violence returned to Gaza".
The dramatic move did not come as a surprise. In early October, newly-elected Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lovfen announced in his inaugural address that the government would recognise a Palestinian state.