Israel on Monday condemned as “shockingly hostile” comments by Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom that seemed to link the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the ISISbacked terrorist attacks in Paris.
After the Paris attacks, Wallstrom was asked the following question on Swedish television.
“How worried are you about the radicalization of young people in Sweden who are fighting for ISIS?” According to the translation provided by Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Wallstrom answered: “Obviously, we have reason to be worried, not just in Sweden but across the world, because there are so many that are being radicalized. Here, once again, we are brought back to situations like the one in the Middle East, where not least, the Palestinians see that there isn’t a future. We must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence.”
The Swedish Foreign Ministry issued a clarification in which it denied that Wallstrom had made a connection between the two.
“In the interview referred to, no implication or reference was made that implied that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had any relevance for the tragic events in Paris. We condemn all acts of terror. We must now unite as democracies to fight for our common values in these challenging times.”
But the Foreign Ministry on Monday said it felt Wallstrom’s comments did indeed make that link and summoned Sweden’s Ambassador to Israel Carl Magnus Nesser to speak with ministry director-general Dore Gold.
The two men spoke for close to half an hour, Gold expressing Israel’s displeasure at Sweden’s general policy when it comes to Israel.
Sweden is one of the countries that is leading the call to place consumer labels on settlement products, Gold said, calling it a discriminatory measure that singles out Israel.
It doesn’t advance the peace process and it harms those Palestinians employed in Israeli factories over the Green Line, Gold said.
Now, he added, Wallstrom has made comments that could be interpreted as a justification for Palestinian terrorism.
“Those who engage in hopeless attempts to link the terrorist attacks by Islamist extremists with the difficulties between Israelis and Palestinians are misleading themselves as well as the public opinion of their country and the international community,” the Foreign Ministry said, calling Wallstrom’s words “brazen” and “shocking.”
“The Swedish Minister is systematically biased and one-sided against Israel,” the ministry said, adding that this latest statement was outrightly “hostile.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said Europe’s belief that Israel is the source of all the troubles in the world shows it has learned nothing over the years.
“Does Iran act out of frustration, did [Osama] Bin Laden act out of frustration?” she asked.
US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, meanwhile, said the US rejects terrorism whether it is directed against France or Israel.
During a speech in Eilat, Shapiro condemned Friday’s terrorist attack in the South Hebron Hills in which Palestinian gunmen killed Yaakov Litman, 40, and his son, Netanel, 18, in an attack on the family’s van.
“As Israel mourns the murder of so many of its citizens – most recently, Rabbi Yaakov Litman z”l and his son Netanel Litman z”l, who were gunned down just before Shabbat – and prays for the recovery of dozens more – a list that includes American citizens – America’s leaders and countless other Americans stand in steadfast solidarity with you,” Shapiro said.
“A similar solidarity to that which we feel for France during these dark days,” he continued.
“With Israel, just as with France, America’s condemnation, our total rejection of terror – whether in the form of rocks, knives, motor vehicles, guns, suicide bombers, or rockets – is unequivocal and rooted in the kinship of our open and democratic societies,” Shapiro said.
During the last few days, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also has drawn a link between the two attacks, which occurred within hours of each other on Friday.
Speaking at a Likud faction meeting on Monday, Netanyahu said the terrorists who kill Israelis and those who target Parisians have the same goals.
“Those who kill Israelis have the exact same murderous intentions as those who killed in Paris and the methods we use – blowing up terrorists’ homes, determined action by our forces, including entering different places and increasing the amount of forces – allow us to prevent much of their actions,” he said.
“We have been fighting terrorism for almost 100 years and are battling it successfully,” Netanyahu said, pointing to the “powerful” policy of demolishing terrorists’ homes and saying the father of the terrorist who killed two Israelis on Friday may have turned in his son in order to avoid having the home demolished. He also noted other methods of combating terrorism, such as increasing forces and entering terrorist strongholds and neighborhoods.
Netanyahu concluded, “There is no way to fight terrorism but to fight terrorism” and nothing can replace that fight.Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.