Israel to summon Sweden's ambassador over Palestinian state

Peeved at the newly-elected Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven's announcement to recognise Palestine, Israel on Sunday said it will summon the Swedish Ambassador to protest the "unfortunate" move.

Jerusalem: Peeved at the newly-elected Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven's announcement to recognise Palestine, Israel on Sunday said it will summon the Swedish Ambassador to protest the "unfortunate" move.

"Swedish Prime Minister Lofven needs to understand that no declaration and no step by an outside player can replace the direct negotiations between the sides and a solution that will be part of a comprehensive agreement between Israel and the entire Arab world," said Israel's ultra-nationalist Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman.

He slammed the decision calling it "unfortunate" saying Lofven "likely has yet to have enough time to delve into matters and understand that the side which has been a spoiler for the past 20 years to advancing an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians ? is the Palestinians."

"If the Swedish prime minister's inauguration speech is concerned with the situation in the Middle East, he would be better off focusing on the urgent problems in the area, like the daily mass killings in Syria, Iraq, and other places in the region," he asserted.

Sources in Jerusalem expressed concerns at the Swedish move because it would become the first major European country to recognise Palestine as a state, triggering a "difficult diplomatic trend".

"Sweden is essentially a signal from the heart of the European Union's founding membership that recognition of Palestine is increasing", sources here said.

Countries like Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Bulgaria in the past had recognised "Palestine's national aspirations" before joining the European Union.

Jerusalem is concerned that other European nations will follow Sweden and declare their intention to recognize a Palestinian state.

Some Israeli officials believe that the Swedish declaration is directed towards domestic political consumption, as more than 6 per cent of the local population is Muslim.

"This may be a symbolic step, but it definitely represents a signal for the future. It should greatly concern Israel even if it doesn't have any immediate practical significance ? aside from upgrading the Palestinian delegation in Stockholm to an embassy and automatic Swedish support in accepting Palestine to international organisations," a source added.

In an indication of a rising trend, Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard recently threatened Israel with sanctions if it did not reach an agreement with Hamas, lifted blockade of Gaza, and ended construction in settlement blocs.

The UN General Assembly approved the de facto recognition of "the sovereign State of Palestine" in 2012, but the European Union and most EU countries have yet to give official recognition.  

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