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Margot Wallström: ”Probe Israeli violence”

Updated tisdag 12 januari 2016 kl 21.15
Published tisdag 12 januari 2016 kl 19.25
Swedish foreign minister, Margot Wallström. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT.
Foto: Janerik Henriksson/TT.

Sweden’s foreign minister wants a “thorough and credible” investigation to establish whether or not Israel has used “extrajudicial executions” over the past few months when the country has seen a wave of knife attacks and clashes.

News agency TT reported Tuesday that Wallström referred to a statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, who in October maintained that the Israelis’ response to knife attacks committed by Palestinians had been “disproportionate” and that extrajudicial executions may well have been carried out.

“It is central that there are thorough and credible inquiries into these deaths so that there can be clarity and potential accountability,” TT quoted Wallström as saying.

In response, Israel's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying Wallström's “irresponsible and delirious statements are giving support to terrorism and encouraging violence,” The Jerusalem Post reported.

Wallström's press secretary told TT that the harsh reaction may be explained by the fact that critics in Israel had not read her statement in full. Sweden's Ministry for Foreign Affairs translated the statement to English on Tuesday night and linked to it from Wallström's Twitter account.

Wallström’s statement was in response to a question put to her by Sweden’s Liberal Party leader, Jan Björklund, following a parliament debate in which Wallström had spoken of extrajudicial executions without mentioning Israel. However, at the time it was widely presumed that Wallström was indeed referring to Israel and that provoked strong reactions from the Israeli government.

Afterwards, Wallström insisted she had not spoken specifically about Israel, but this time she brought up suspicions of extrajudicial executions aired by Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein and by various human-rights organisations.

Björklund had not brought up the subject of extrajudicial executions, but instead criticised Wallström’s general approach to Israel.

“For a long time, Sweden has had a balanced approach to the Israelis and the Palestinians... During Margot Wallström’s time, the rhetoric and actions from the government have shifted so that Sweden is now  perceived to be one-sided and to side with the Palestinians,” said Björklund.

Wallström denied this, saying: “I oppose every attempt to paint Sweden, the government or myself as Israel’s enemy. We are a friend of the Israelis and a friend of the Palestinians and both states have the right to exist.”

In an op-ed published in tabloid Aftonbladet last month, a number of Swedish professors of international law, along with the president of the Christian aid organization Diakonia, wrote that “street executions” may have occurred in Israel in connection with stabbings by Palestinians.

The article authors maintained that while it was too early to say so with absolute certainty, reports from NGOs like Amnesty International suggested it might be the case that “street executions” had occurred. Moreover, organisations like Al Mezan, BTselem and Amnesty have criticised “Israel’s new orders to use live ammunition” during protests, the article authors wrote.

Almost daily stabbings, car-rammings and shootings by Palestinians have killed 21 Israelis and a US citizen since early October, Haaretz reports. Israeli forces or armed civilians have killed at least 133 Palestinians in the same period, 83 of whom authorities described as assailants. Most of the others were killed in clashes with security forces, according to Haaretz.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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