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Israel recalls envoy after Sweden recognises Palestine

THE LEVANT – Israel recalled its ambassador to Sweden for “consultations” Thursday, hours after Stockholm officially recognised the state of Palestine, the foreign ministry spokesman said.

“This indeed reflects our irritation and annoyance at this unhelpful decision, which does not contribute to a return to (peace) negotiations,” Emmanuel Nachshon told AFP.

He said the recall of Ambassador Isaac Bachman was for an unspecified length of time.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem announced her country’s recognition of Palestine Thursday, making it the first major European country to do so.

“Today the government takes the decision to recognise the state of Palestine,” she wrote in the mass-circulation Dagens Nyheter daily, less than a month after Sweden’s new government announced the plans to make the controversial move.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas immediately hailed the decision as “brave and historic” and called for others to follow suit but it was denounced by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

“The decision of the Swedish government to recognise a Palestinian state is a deplorable decision which only strengthens extremist elements and Palestinian rejectionism,” he said in a statement.

“The Swedish government must understand that relations in the Middle East are a lot more complex than the self-assembly furniture of IKEA and that they have to act with responsibility and sensitivity.”

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