Swedish foreign minister calls for Israeli killings probe

AP News
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Posted: Jan 12, 2016 2:17 PM

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Sweden's foreign minister called for an investigation Tuesday into allegations that Israeli forces have carried out extrajudicial killings in clashes with Palestinians.

"It is vital that there are thorough, credible investigations into these deaths in order to clarify and bring about possible accountability," Margot Wallstrom told lawmakers.

The last three and a half months have seen near-daily Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers that have killed 24 people. At least 140 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since mid-September. About two-thirds of them are said by Israel to be attackers, while the others were killed in clashes with troops.

Condemning violence on both sides, Wallstrom noted that the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, as well as human rights groups, have raised concerns about possible "extrajudicial killings" by Israel.

Sweden's relations with Israel have been strained since the Social Democratic-led government in 2014 recognized Palestinian statehood, and Wallstrom's comments on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have elicited angry responses from Israeli officials.

Swedish opposition lawmaker Jan Bjorklund of the Liberal Party accused the government of shifting the country's Middle East policy so that it's perceived to be "siding much more unilaterally with the Palestinian party."

Wallstrom was quoted by news agency TT as saying she rejects any attempt to "portray Sweden, the government or me as Israel's enemy. We are Israel's friend and the Palestinians' friend and both states have a right to exist."