Israel slams Swedish recognition of Palestine

 Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman Thursday lashed out at Sweden`s decision to recognise Palestine, saying the "unfortunate" move only serves to reinforce extremist elements.

Jerusalem: Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman Thursday lashed out at Sweden`s decision to recognise Palestine, saying the "unfortunate" move only serves to reinforce extremist elements.

His comment came after Sweden`s Minister of Foreign Affairs Margot Wallstrom announced the decision, which makes it the first Europena Union (EU) country in Western Europe to officially recognise Palestine, Xinhua reported.

Lieberman said that the Swedish government "must understand that relations in the Middle East are more complex than one of Ikea`s flat-pack pieces of furniture, and would do well to act with greater sensitivity and responsibility".

The minister added that such measures only bolstered "the Palestinians` unrealistic demands and delay an agreement".

He reiterated the Israeli position, which opposed international intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and charged that "the only way to reach an arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians is for the parties to conduct sincere negotiations".

Wallstrom said in the statement that the recognition "is an important step that confirms the Palestinians` right to self-determination," adding, "We hope that this will show the way for others."

The decision was not unexpected. Three weeks ago, newly-elected Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven pledged in his inaugural address to the parliament to recognise a Palestinian state.

Israel fears that other major EU countries will follow Sweden.

The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

The Swedish announcement comes at a time of soaring tensions between Israelis and Palestinians over Israel`s plan to build over 1,000 housing units in east Jerusalem.

The EU has recently warned Israel about its settlement policy in the West Bank, warning Israel not to make moves that would jeopardise the creation of a Palestinian state.

Several rounds of peace talks have reached a deadlock over the Israeli construction in the West Bank settlements.

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