ABBAS VISITS SWEDEN AMID ISRAEL SPAT

Photo: Ma'an News Agency
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visits Sweden amid Israel spat. (Photo: Ma’an)

Stockholm, 20 Rabi’ul Akhir 1436/10 February 2015 (MINA) – President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Stockholm on Monday for an official visit tainted by a diplomatic row with Israel following Sweden’s recognition of Palestine.

Swedish relations with Israel sank to an all-time low after the Nordic country’s centre-left government decided in October to recognize Palestine, just weeks after it took office.

Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem — who last month postponed a trip to Israel — has said she will use the Abbas visit to “prepare for a revived peace process,” Ma’an News Agency quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

“It’s of course not about being the most central actor in potential peace talks,” political scientist Ann-Marie Ekengren at Gothenburg University told AFP.

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“But perhaps Wallstroem sees Sweden’s role as a facilitator which sets the stage for future negotiations.”

Abbas’ visit — his first to Sweden since 2009 — comes a month after a senior Israeli official said Wallstroem was not welcome for official visits to the country.

“It does not make us happy to see (Abbas) here on a visit with a new government that very quickly decided to recognize Palestine,” Israel’s ambassador to Stockholm Isaac Bachman told news agency TT.

Sweden is the only major western European country to have recognized Palestine as a state.

According to the Palestinian Authority, around 135 countries have recognized the state of Palestine including several that are now EU members.

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Peace talks between Israel and Palestine collapsed in April last year, and a bloody war in Gaza erupted just a few months later. (T/P010/P3)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)