Swedish Foreign Minister Accuses Israel of Executing Palestinian Assailants Without Trial

Israeli envoy to Stockholm fires back, saying that when it comes to fighting terrorism, Israel’s moral standards are on par with Western nations.

In this Wednesday, March 11, 2015 file photo, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom gestures during a media interview at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in central Stockholm, Sweden.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström on Friday accused Israel of executing Palestinian assailants without trial.

The remarks further exacerbated the tension between Stockholm and Jerusalem, prompting a scathing response from the Israeli ambassador to Sweden. 

Wallström made the comments in response to foreign policy questions directed at her during a parliament meeting. During the session, three parliament members claimed that Swedish government policy favors the Palestinian position over the Israeli one. 

Wallström stated that she condemns the stabbing attacks perpetrated by Palestinians against Israelis, but asserted the Israeli response was "disproportionate."

"I reject/condemn the knife-attacks," the foreign minister said. "I think that it is awful and that it should not happen and Israel always has the right to defend itself and ensure its safety. 

"And in the same way the response cannot be, and I say this in other situations as well, where the response becomes so that there are extrajudicial executions, or that it becomes disproportionate so the numbers of dead on the other side is greater than the original death toll by several factors," she said. 

Wallström's remarks were widely reported in Swedish media, and were met with a harsh response from Israeli Ambassador to Stockholm Isaac Bachman. 

"Israel’s moral standards when it comes to fighting terrorism are at least at par with other Western nations coping with the same threat," Bachman said. "Israeli practices are even more successful in avoiding civilian casualties than in other Western nations' cases, according to verified military statistics.

"The emphasis on how the victims of terror defend themselves is diverting the attention away from the true horrors of terrorism," he continued. "Instead one should condemn and act to stop the perpetrators, the financers and the inciters of terrorism. If we focus on condemning and preventing terrorism there will be no need for self-defense."

In response to the reports of Wallström's remarks, her press secretary Erik Wirkensjö noted that "the foreign minister did not say that Israel conducts ‘extrajudicial executions.’

"The foreign minister made a general statement about international law and the right to self-defense and the importance of proportionality and distinction. What she stated applies to all parties,” he added.