Swedish foreign minister calls for inquiry into Israeli violence

by Reuters
Tuesday, 12 January 2016 13:48 GMT

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STOCKHOLM, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom called on Tuesday for an investigation to determine if Israel was guilty of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians during recent violence there, local media reported.

The comments were the latest in a series of statements by Wallstrom that have irked Israeli authorities. Ties between Sweden and Israel nose-dived after Sweden recognised the Palestine state shortly after Wallstrom's centre-left Social Democrats won general elections in 2014.

She deepened the rift last year by describing Palestinians' plight as a factor leading to Islamist radicalisation.

"It is vital that there is a thorough, credible investigation into these deaths in order to clarify and bring about possible accountability," Wallstrom said during a parliamentary debate, according to news agency TT .

Rights groups have accused Israel of using excessive force to quell the unrest.

The United States, the European Union and the United Nations have all expressed concern, saying that while they recognise Israel's right to self-defence, restraint is necessary to ensure the violence does not escalate further.

Almost daily stabbings, car-rammings and shootings by Palestinians have killed 21 Israelis and a U.S. citizen since early October, raising fears of a wider escalation a decade after the last Palestinian uprising subsided.

Israeli forces or armed civilians have killed at least 133 Palestinians in the same period, 83 of whom authorities described as assailants. Most of the others have been killed in clashes with security forces.

The surge in violence has been fuelled by Palestinians' frustration over Israel's 48-year occupation of land they seek for an independent state, and the expansion of settlements in those territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. (Reporting by Johan Ahlander; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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