Israel denounces Swedish minister's remarks

Israel's foreign ministry denounces Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom's claims that Israel executes terrorist stabbers.

Ben Ariel ,

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom

Israel on Saturday denounced remarks by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, after she accused the Jewish state of carrying out "extrajudicial executions" in response to attacks by knife-wielding Palestinians, AFP reports.

In Stockholm on Friday, speaking to members of parliament, Wallstrom condemned the knife attacks but also criticized Israel's response.

"I condemn the knife attacks. I think they are horrendous and they mustn't be allowed to happen, and Israel always has the right to defend itself, to ensure its security," Wallstrom told the Swedish MPs.

"And likewise, the response must not be of the kind -- and this is what I say in other situations where the response is such that it results in extrajudicial executions or is disproportionate in that the number of people killed on that side exceeds the original number of deaths many times over."

Emmanuel Nahshon, a spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry, said later, "The declaration is scandalous, untruthful, impudent and detached from reality.

"The foreign minister suggests that Israeli citizens offer up their necks to the murderers looking to stab them," he said.

"In Israel, any person who commits a crime appears before court, including terrorists," Nahshon stressed.

Wallstrom’s remarks had also raised the ire of Israel’s Ambassador to Sweden, Isaac Bachman, who said on Friday, "Israel’s moral standards in the war on terror are at least as high as those of other Western nations which deal with the same threat.”

“Israel manages to avoid civilian casualties much more than other Western countries. The focus on the way terror victims protect themselves diverts attention from the real horrors of terrorism. Instead, terrorists and inciters must be condemned and then acts of self-defense will not be required," the Ambassador added.

On Saturday, a spokesman for Wallstrom denied Israel's accusation.

"The foreign minister did not say that Israel conducts 'extrajudicial executions'," he said, according to the AFP news agency.

"The foreign minister made a general statement about international law and the right to self-defense and the importance of proportionality and distinction," he explained.

Friday’s comments, however, were not the first time that Wallstrom has criticized Israel.

Several weeks ago, the Swedish minister provoked a firestorm of criticism, when she appeared to blame the terrorist attacks in Paris on "Palestinian frustration" with Israel.

Wallstrom also engaged in a back and forth with former Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman a year ago. Liberman, in denouncing Sweden’s decision to recognize the Palestinian Authority (PA) as "the State of Palestine," said that “relations in the Middle East are a lot more complex than the self-assembly furniture of IKEA”.

Wallstrom later replied and said she would be “happy” to send Liberman some IKEA furniture “and he will also see that what you need to put that together is, first of all, a partner.”

Following that incident, Wallstrom said Israel had overreacted to her country’s recognition of “Palestine”, accusing Israel of “irritating its allies”.

"Israel has been extremely aggressive," she charged at the time, adding, "They have continued with their settlement policies, they have continued demolitions, they have continued with their occupation policies which entail a humiliation of Palestinians, which makes the (peace) process difficult."