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"Israel has painted itself into a corner": Bildt

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12:52 CEST+02:00
Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has demanded an immediate, full and independent investigation into the Gaza aid convoy attacks.

Bildt said Sweden strongly condemns the use of violence and demands an immediate, full and independent investigation into how the shootings on the Gaza-bound flotilla, which was carrying aid and activists, could have happened.

"It is important that all this does not degenerate into anti-Israeli hysteria," Bildt told newspapers Dagens Nyheter (DN).

"The Israelis have painted themselves into a corner with a catastrophic policy that leads to one problem after another. It is the world's business to get it out of the corner and try to find to a constructive resolution to this."

Bildt made the comments to DN shortly after a call with Israeli Ambassador Benny Dagan, in which he made clear Sweden's position on the imprisoned Swedish activists.

"Of great importance is also that the Security Council now requires 'immediate release' of the civilians now seized by Israel," Bildt wrote on his blog.

"The requirement is very important and we are now working so that the EU as a whole can work with Israel to resolve this as quickly as possible."

He added, "There is no acceptable legal basis for the current detention of citizens of EU and other countries and the Security Council's statement in this part also indirectly makes this clear to the Israeli authorities."

The best resolution to this affair would be, according to Bildt, a broad agreement that governs relief supplies to Gaza.

"The Israelis have signaled that they would consider a corridor between the port of Ashdod and the Gaza Strip," Bildt told DN.

"I have nothing against the Israelis searching the contents if they want to ensure that no weapons are smuggled in the shipments, but it is important that we have a clear and common understanding that makes it possible to establish new routines, preferably under international supervision, for the Gaza Strip's supply."

In response to whether Sweden should consider former British foreign secretary David Miliband's proposal to boycott goods from the occupied territories, Bildt told DN, "We have already tightened customs regulations on these products. The EU has made clear that our agreement with Israel applies to goods produced inside the 1967 borders, which makes products from the settlements more expensive and less competitive."

The Israeli government said on Tuesday that it plans to release all of the foreigners who were involved in the Gaza-bound flotilla. Hundreds were expelled on Wednesday.

Swedish author Henning Mankell and three other Swedes who were involved with the flotilla returned to Sweden on Tuesday. Seven others remained in jail at lunchtime on Wednesday.

The six ships in the Freedom Flotilla, carrying more than 700 passengers, were on a mission to deliver some 10,000 tonnes of supplies to Gaza, which has been under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007.

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