Scandinavians condemn Lebanon violence

Sweden, Denmark and Norway Sweden on Thursday condemned renewed attacks by Lebanon's Hezbollah militia against Israel and at the same time called for Israel to exercise restraint.

Swedish Foreign Minister Jan Eliasson criticised Israel’s actions in Gaza and Lebanon.

“They (Israel’s actions) are disproportionate because they have such serious consequences for the civilian population,” Eliasson told journalists on Thursday.

Eliasson acknowledged Israel’s right to defend itself but said he was “deeply critical” of Israel’s thrust into Lebanese territory.

“It is essential to remind Israel the Middle East is a powder-keg,” Eliasson added.

Denmark also condemned the violence in the region.

“The situation in the Middle East is already tense and this escalation can only hamper the chances of a peaceful resolution (to the conflict in the region),” Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Möller said in a statement.

The Scandinavian country also appealed to Israel to avoid an escalation in violence.

“Israel has the right to defend itself, but also has an obligation to avoid the use of disproportionate force,” the statement added.

“It is essential the international community says very clearly to the parties involved in the conflict that military action is unacceptable and that lasting solutions will only be reached through negotiation,” it said.

The United Nations Security Council, on which Denmark has held a non-permanent seat since January 2005, is set to discuss the Middle East crisis this week.

Norway, the broker of the now defunct Oslo peace accords for the Middle East, condemned the Hezbollah action and Israel’s response.

“Norway condemns the Hezbollah attacks against Israel and the abduction of the two soldiers. We demand their immediate release,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said in a statement.

“We also condemn Israeli attacks on Lebanon, including the bombing of Beirut airport and the naval blockade of Lebanon,” he added.

Sweden, Denmark and Norway have all urged their citizens to avoid travelling to Lebanon.

The Swedish foreign ministry was on Thursday night saying that there were no plans to evacuate the estimated 2,000 Swedish citizens in Lebanon, but spokeswoman Miriam Mannbro said that Swedish officials werekeeping the situation under review together with representatives of other EU countries.

AFP/The Local