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Israel takes a swipe at Sweden over Israel-Palestine peace envoy

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Israel takes a swipe at Sweden over Israel-Palestine peace envoy
Israel has responded to Margot Wallström's announcement that Sweden will appoint a new envoy to the Israel-Palestine peace process. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT & Bernat Armangue/AP
13:09 CET+01:00
Israel's Foreign Ministry has made what appears to be a thinly-veiled criticism of Sweden's decision to appoint a special envoy to the Israel-Palestine peace process, asking why the Swedes "couldn't come sooner?".

On Wednesday, Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström announced that the Nordic nation's government will appoint a diplomat to work full-time on the Israel-Palestine conflict, charged with establishing contacts and representing Sweden in international talks about the issue.

"When I visited Palestine in December it was noticeable that hope can turn to despair, and this features heavily in the consultations that Sweden is holding with almost 150 Israeli and Palestinian civil society organizations," Wallström told the Riksdag while presenting her foreign policy vision for 2017.

The announcement of the new envoy does not appear to have gone down well in Israel however, judging by comments from the country's foreign ministry in response.

"Given the extraordinary successes of this Swedish government in peace making all over the world, we are deeply grateful for the decision to finally solve this region's illnesses," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told The Times of Israel.

"Why couldn’t they come sooner?" he added.

Sweden has had a frosty relationship with Israel in recent years after it recognized Palestine as a state in 2014. Israeli officials have also regularly refused to meet Wallström, in particular after she called for investigations into "extrajudicial" killings of Palestinian assailants by Israeli forces.

When approached by The Local for comment on Nahshon's remarks, Wallström's press officer Pezhman Fivrin said it "prompts no comment from our side".

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