Netanyahu: Swedish FM's Remarks on Killings of Palestinians Are 'Outrageous and Stupid'

PM criticizes Margot Wallstrom for calling for an investigation to determine if Israel was guilty of extrajudicial killings; attacks EU decision to label settlement products as immoral.

Netanyahu speaks to members of the foreign media, Jerusalem January 14, 2016.
Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed on Thursday accusations by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom that Israel may be guilty of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians as "outrageous and stupid."

"What the Swedish FM said is outrageous, it's immoral it's unjust," Netanyahu said at the Government Press Office's annual toast for members of the foreign media in Israel. "It is definitely wrong and it singles out Israel in an absurd way and it's stupid"

On Tuesday, Wallstrom called for an investigation to determine if Israel was guilty of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians during the recent violence in Israel and the West Bank, according to Swedish media.

Netanyahu's remarks come against a backdrop of escalating crisis in Israel-Sweden relations. Swedish ambassador in Israel Carl Magnus was urgently summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday to be reprimanded over Wallstrom's latest comments, according to Israeli diplomats.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, Monday, Nov. 2, 2105.
AP

Relations between Israel and Sweden began deteriorating in 2014, after a center-left coalition won the country's elections and subsequently recognized Palestine as a state.

Relations between the two countries have deteriorated even further due to a number of remarks by Wellstrom regarded as critical of Israel. 

Wallstrom's call for an investigation to determine if Israel was guilty of extrajudicial killings and to prosecute those responsible, if necessary, came during a parliamentary session. A few weeks earlier, she told parliament that Israel was executing Palestinian assailants without trial.

A few hours after Wallstrom's remarks on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon issued a harsh statement, calling her comments "irresponsible and delusional," and adding that Wallstrom is "giving support to terror and thus encouraging violence."

In his remarks to the foreign journalists on Thursday, Netanyahu said that Israel's ties with European countries were "very good," despite what he said were unfair steps taken by the European Union.

He attacked the EU's decision to specifically label products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank as immoral and said that the EU "encourages illegal building" in Area C of the West Bank in order to "alter the political reality" on the ground.

Nevertheless, Netanyahu said he hoped it would be possible to "reset" and improve relations between Israel and the EU.

The premier also referred to the diplomatic crisis with Brazil over the latter's refusal to accept Dani Dayan as Israel's ambassador due to his record as a settlement leader. He insisted that Dayan would remain Israel's candidate for ambassador, despite Brazil's refusal.

It was Netanyahu's first public reference to the crisis with Brazil.

Regarding the situation in Syria and Israel's security coordination with Russia, Netanyahu said that both countries respected each other's interests in Syria and that the understandings between the two were being adhered to scrupulously.

He also said that Israel and the United States were close to agreement on a memorandum of understanding regarding American security assistance to Israel for the next decade.