Netanyahu trades barbs with Sweden's foreign minister
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday slammed what he called "stupid" and "immoral" remarks of Sweden's top diplomat, who has demanded investigations into the killing of Palestinians by Israeli forces.
Margot Wallstrom had on Tuesday called for "thorough and credible investigations" into the deaths of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the wave of violence raging since October.
"I think what the Swedish foreign minister said is outrageous, I think it's immoral, it's unjust and it's just wrong," Netanyahu told members of the foreign press.
"It's outrageous, it's immoral and it's stupid," he said, taking care to avoid endorsing accusations of anti-Semitism made by some Israeli officials.
"The other day in Paris a knife-wielding terrorist was shot to death, is that extrajudicial killing? Does the Swedish foreign minister suggest that there be examinations of what happened there in Paris?" he asked.
Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, told reporters on Wednesday that Wallstrom will now be barred from visiting Israel.
"We decline to host the Swedish foreign minister in Israel. The State of Israel is closing its doors to official Swedish visits," said Hotovely.
Israel and the Palestinian territories have seen a wave of violence in recent months, with 23 Israelis killed in reported Palestinian attacks since 1 October.
Over the same time period, 152 Palestinians have been killed, most of them while carrying out alleged attacks on Israeli civilians or security forces.
Netanyahu also addressed the situation of French Jews, after a string of anti-Semitic events in recent months brought Marseille's top Jewish leader to call on men and boys to stop wearing a kippa.
Zvi Ammar's remarks regarding skullcaps came a day after a Turkish teen had reportedly attacked a Jew with a machete.
"I think that they have a right," Netanyahu said.
"That's a principle that has been said very forcefully by President (Francois) Hollande and Prime Minister (Manuel) Valls, but as far as the specific choice, that is an individual choice.
"I think that every Jew anywhere should be able to live safely and to enjoy the protection of the authorities. I commend the government of France and other governments in Europe who are taking a forceful stance on this issue," Netanyahu said.
"At the same time every Jew should know that they have a home in Israel and that's a choice that each one of them then makes," the Israeli premier said, referring to Israel's "Law of Return," under which Jews from around the world are welcome to settle in the country. At the same time, Arab Palestinians who were forced off their land in what became Israel after the 1948 war are barred from returning.