Abbas opens Palestine embassy in Sweden

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas inaugurated the embassy of Palestine in Sweden.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem was among those on hand for the ceremony on Tuesday night, along with Swedish government officials and foreign ambassadors, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported.

Abbas was visiting Sweden for the first time since it became the first European country to officially recognize a state of Palestine. At the ceremony, Abbas praised Sweden for recognizing his country and added, “Such recognitions do not mean that we don’t want to negotiate with Israel.”

Abbas called on Israel to restart peace negotiations and to transfer millions of dollars in withheld tax money.

Sweden officially recognized the state of Palestine in October, days after new Prime Minister Stefan Lofven announced that the government would make the recognition. In response, Israel recalled its ambassador to Sweden.

Wallstroem in January postponed a planned visit to Israel over the bad feelings caused by the recognition. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said he would not meet with Wallstroem while she was in Israel.