(photo credit: REUTERS)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman spoke out against Sweden's decision to recognize the state of Palestine on Thursday, saying that it was an "unfortunate decision that strengthens extremists."
He said the only way to come to a peace agreement with the Palestinians is through negotiations, and steps like this only reinforce the unrealistic demands of the Palestinians.
"It is too bad that the government of Sweden has chosen to adopt the measure that does a lot of damage and has no benefits. Sweden must understand that relations in the Middle East are much more complicated than self-assembly furniture at Ikea," Liberman said.
The Swedish government officially recognized the state of Palestine on Thursday, the first Western European country to do so, reflecting growing international exasperation over the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom told reporters her government hoped it would bring a new dynamic to the situation.
"Our decision comes at a critical time because over the last year we have seen how the peace talks have stalled, how decisions over new settlements on occupied Palestinian land have complicated a two-state solution and how violence has returned to Gaza," she said.
But Wallstrom rejected accusations that Sweden was taking sides and said she hoped other EU countries would follow its lead.