Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven
Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven Reuters

Amid rapidly-deteriorating relations between the two countries, Sweden's prime minister has come under fire for declaring that the recent spate of stabbing attacks in Israel are not terrorist attacks.

Speaking to the Swedish TT news agency, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said of the Palestinian attacks, which have claimed the lives of 22 people and left hundreds more wounded in just over two months: "No, it is not classified as [terrorism]."

"There is an international classification regarding what constitutes or does not constitute [terror]. As far as I know, the [stabbing attacks in Israel] are not defined as terror."

Soon after, however, the Swedish PM reached out to TT and attempted to clarify what he described as a "misunderstanding" regarding his remarks, likely realizing the potential for backlash.

"I meant that it was unclear if the knife attacks are organized by a group classified as a terrorist organization," he said. "Nonetheless, the attacks themselves do constitute terror."

Lofven's controversial remarks come on the heels of similarly controversial statements by his foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, who recently accused Israel of "executing" Palestinians, drawing sharp condemnation from Jerusalem.

Not long before that incident, Wallstrom provoked a firestorm of criticism, when she appeared to blame the terrorist attacks in Paris on "Palestinian frustration" with Israel.

Foreign Ministry Director General Dr. Dore Gold later summoned and delivered an official reprimand to Swedish ambassador Carl Magnus-Nesser in response to the comments.

Relations between Israel and Stockholm's left-wing government deteriorated considerably last year, after the Swedish government became the first Western European state to recognize the Palestinian Authority as "the State of Palestine."

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