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Sweden-Israel rift deepens over comments on Palestinian deaths

JERUSALEM/STOCKHOLM Relations amongst Sweden and Israel hit a fresh low on Sunday following Israel said Sweden’s foreign minister had accused it of unlawful killings and Stockholm responded by saying that the comments had been “blown out of reasonable proportion”.

Relations among the two countries have nose-dived since Sweden’s Social Democrat-led government recognized a Palestinian state last year. Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom deepened the rift by describing Palestinians’ plight as a factor top to Islamist radicalization.

In the newest row, Israel condemned as “scandalous” on Sunday what it stated was a suggestion by Wallstrom its forces had unlawfully killed Palestinians involved in a surge of street violence, and warned of a diplomatic rupture with Stockholm.

Sweden mentioned Wallstrom’s comments had been misunderstood.

“The Minister for Foreign Affairs did not, as alleged, say that extrajudicial executions take place in Israel,” Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven and Wallstrom mentioned in a statement.

“The scenario in the Middle East is challenging enough without having getting to be encumbered by misunderstandings about anybody’s intentions.”

In the latest violence in Jerusalem, on Sunday, a Palestinian rammed his car into a passer-by in a Jewish neighborhood, slightly injuring him, and then got out of the vehicle and stabbed one more man, who suffered superficial wounds.

Safety forces shot the attacker dead, police said.

Addressing Swedish lawmakers on Friday, Wallstrom denounced the almost every day Palestinian knife, gun or vehicle-ramming attacks but urged Israel to stay away from excessive force.

“And likewise, the response should not be of the sort — and this is what I say in other conditions exactly where the response is such that it outcomes in extrajudicial executions or is disproportionate in that the quantity of individuals killed on that side exceeds the original quantity of deaths numerous occasions over,” Wallstrom stated in the official English translation of her statement provided by the ministry.

Sweden stated she had been talking in basic terms about the principles of international law regarding self-defense and the value of responding in a proportional manner.

Wallstrom’s remarks, even so, touched a nerve in Israel, whose forces have killed 103 Palestinians given that Oct. 1, of whom it has identified 64 as assailants or who had been caught on camera carrying out assaults. Most of the other individuals died in clashes with police or troops.

The Palestinian attacks, fueled in element by strife more than a contested Jerusalem shrine as properly as a peacemaking approach deadlocked given that early 2014, have killed 19 Israelis and a U.S. citizen.

“I condemn the statements, the scandalous statements, made by the foreign minister of Sweden,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet in broadcast remarks.

“It appears she expects Israel’s citizens to bare their throats to those trying to stab them. This will not take place, and we will continue to shield the lives of Israel’s citizens.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely stated in a radio interview that she and Netanyahu, who also functions as foreign minister, would convene a meeting on Sunday to determine on what she anticipated would be a “sharp response” to Wallstrom’s comments.

Hotovely hinted at a attainable exclusion of the Swedish government from Israeli efforts to revive peacemaking efforts with the Palestinians that have been stalled considering that early 2014.

“Sweden has crossed all red lines in relations with Israel,” Hotovely told Army Radio. “This is defamation of Israel and the statements are distancing Sweden from the ranks of enlightened nations that can take element in the dialogue about rights in the area.”

(Writing by Dan Williams, editing by Louise Heavens)

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