Israel Recalls Ambassador to Sweden

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -

Sweden on Thursday became the biggest Western European country to recognize a Palestinian state, and Israel swiftly reacted by withdrawing its ambassador from Stockholm in protest.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman descred it as “a miserable decision that strengthens the extremist elements and Palestinian rejectionism.”

“It’s a shame that the government of Sweden chose to take a decalarative step that only causes harm,” he added.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson said Israel’s ambassador to Sweden was being recalled for consultations, but declined to say how long he would remain in Israel.

Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said Sweden, fulfilling a promise it had made when the Social Democratic-led government took office earlier this month, believes the Palestinians have met the international law criteria required for such recognition.

“There is a territory, a people and government,” she told reporters in Stockholm, adding that Sweden was the 135th country in the world to recognize a Palestinian state.

It is the third Western European nation to do so, after Malta and Cyprus.