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ISRAEL

Sweden may cut aid to Palestinian territories

Development aid minister Gunilla Carlsson has said that the Swedish government may reduce development assistance for the Palestinians since they have failed to reach a peace agreement with Israel.

Sweden may cut aid to Palestinian territories

Sweden donates 700 million kronor ($107 million) annually to the West Bank and Gaza. Carlsson told Sveriges Radio (SR) that the government is now considering cutting the 200 million kronor earmarked for social development.

Carlsson said that the premise of Swedish development assistance for the West Bank and Gaza has been to strengthen the Palestinians’ position in negotiations for a two-state solution that could lead to peace with the Israelis.

She suggested that money targeted at capacity building is going to waste since neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis are willing to participate in peace negotiations.

Carlsson asked: “Is it worth continuing developing the prerequisites for a two-state solution if Israel and the Palestinians themselves do not want to sit down at the negotiating table?”

“I don’t want to haggle with Swedish aid money, but I can only take the perspective of the Swedish taxpayer. One wants results. And if there are no chances of results, then we must take the consequences of that,” Carlsson said.

The Social Democrats condemned the proposal and the Left Party called it a “provocation”.

“To drop the Palestinians in the way that the government is now considering doing is wrong,” said the Social Democrats’ aid policy spokesman Kenneth G Forslund.

The Left Party’s aid policy spokesman Hans Linde argued that Carlsson’s suggestion is “absolutely the wrong way to go” and added that Sweden should actually increase humanitarian aid and support for Palestinian state building.

“Because of Israel’s occupation we can see how the needs for foreign support and development assistance in the Palestinian territories actually grows,” said Linde.

Carlsson’s comments came just after her return from a three-day visit to the Palestinian territories and Israel.

She met local politicians, civil society actors and representatives of international organizations to discuss Sweden’s involvement in the peace process and support for the Palestinians.

TT/The Local/nr

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ISRAEL

Israel intercepts Swedish Gaza-bound activist boat

The Israeli navy intercepted a Swedish-flagged activist boat bent on breaching its more than decade-long blockade of Gaza, the second in less than a week, the military said on Saturday.

Israel intercepts Swedish Gaza-bound activist boat
Photo: TT

“The ship was monitored and was intercepted in accordance with international law,” the military said in a statement, before the vessel, named Freedom for Gaza and carrying 12 people, was taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

“The (military) clarified to the ship’s passengers that they are violating the legal naval blockade and that any humanitarian merchandise can be transferred to Gaza through the Port of Ashdod,” the statement said.

The people on board were taken for “further inquiry.”

The organisers of the flotilla said the boat, which was carrying medical supplies, was intercepted in international waters.

“The demands of Ship to Gaza are that the ship with its crew and cargo will be returned to the site of the boarding, and that they will be allowed to go in peace through international and Palestinian waters in accordance to international law,” they said in a statement.

“This is a demand that the eleven years-long illegal and destructive blockade on Gaza will be lifted at last.”

Freedom was the second boat of the “Freedom Flotilla” to be intercepted en route to “break the blockade” on Gaza, organisers said.

Four boats left from Scandinavia in mid-May and stopped in some 28 ports along the way, with two remaining behind after a recent stop in the Italian port of Palermo.

On Sunday, the Israeli navy intercepted a Norwegian-flagged activist boat that was part of the flotilla.

Israel has fought three wars with Palestinian militants in Gaza since 2008 and says the blockade is necessary to keep them from obtaining weapons or materials that could be used for military purposes.

UN officials have called for the blockade to be lifted, citing deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the Palestinian enclave run by Islamist movement Hamas where 80 percent of the two million population are dependent on aid.

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