Israel Recalls Sweden Ambassador in Protest of Palestine Recognition

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Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Jerusalem, May 20, 2012.Credit: AP

The Foreign Ministry has recalled its ambassador to Sweden, Isaac Bachman, from Stockholm for consultations in protest of Sweden's recognition of a Palestinian state.

A Foreign Ministry official said that Bachman will remain in Jerusalem until further notice, and that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is even considering permanently removing Bachman from Stockholm, downgrading Israeli diplomatic relations with Sweden.

After the announcement Thursday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called Sweden's move a "very unfortunate decision" that only strengthens "radical and intransigent" Palestinian elements.

"The only chance to reach an accord is through honest negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and steps like this only bolster the Palestinians' unrealistic demands and push an accord farther away," Lieberman said.

The Foreign Minister said he was sorry to see the Swedish government make such a declaration that does so much damage and serves no useful purpose.

A screenshot from the twitter feed of Robert Rydberg, Head of Middle East and North Africa Department, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Stockholm, Sweden.

"The Swedish government needs to understand that relations in the Middle East are more complicated than a piece of furniture from IKEA that you assemble at home, and should act with responsibility and sensitivity," he added. 

Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom responded to Lieberman's IKEA comment. "I will be happy to send Israel FM Lieberman an IKEA flat pack to assemble. He'll see it requires a partner, cooperation and a good manual," she said. 

Senior officials in the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said that over the past few weeks the Swedish Foreign Ministry has tried to convince other European nations to declare recognition of a Palestinian state. The officials said that the Swedes were mainly working to convince other Scandinavian nations like Denmark, Sweden and Finland, but received negative responses.  

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