Lieberman: Swedish Recognition Won't Replace Palestinian-Israeli Talks

Israel to summon Swedish envoy following new PM Stefan Lofven's declaration of intent to recognize Palestine; Lieberman calls Lofven's remarks proof he has not internalized that it's the Palestinians who are presenting obstacles, not Israel.

AFP

Israel will summon the Swedish ambassador over Prime Minister Stefan Lofven's announcement that the newly-formed government would recognize the Palestinian state, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's bureau said Sunday.

Lieberman said that Lofven's decision demonstrated that the new Swedish premier "has not yet internalized that those who have posed an obstacle over the last 20 years to progress and an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians are the Palestinians."

"The Swedish prime minister needs to understand that any declaration and any step by an external element will not be an alternative to direct negotiations between the sides and to a solution that is part of an inclusive arrangement between Israel and the Arab world," Lieberman added. "If what concerned the Swedish prime minister in his inaugural speech was the situation in the Middle East, he should have focused on the morning burning issues in the region, like the daily mass murder happening in Syria, Iraq and other places in the region."

“I have instructed the Foreign Ministry staff to invite the Swedish Ambassador to Israel in for a discussion," he said.

Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On welcomed Sweden's declaration, saying it could be the catalyst for a snowball effect to lead the rest of the European Union states to recognize a Palestinian state.

"Instead of summoning the Swedish ambassador to Israel for a reprimand, which will put into question all the more forcefully Netanyahu's commitment to the two-state solution, after having already lost U.S. President Barack Obama's faith in him on this matter, it would have been better for Israel to lose its fixation and say yes to a Palestinian state in the United Nations," Gal-On. "Then Israel could hold different negotiations, government to government, on an equal basis aimed at reaching a solution for two states."

In his inaugural address at parliament on Friday, Lofven said, "The conflict between Israel can only be solved with a two-state solution, negotiated in accordance with international law."

"A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence. Sweden will therefore recognize the state of Palestine."

U.S. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki called Sweden's decision "premature," citing the need to first resolve final status issues.