A court in Sweden ruled that a Palestinian man found guilty of throwing a Molotov cocktail at a synagogue cannot be deported to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, prompting a sharp rebuke from Israel.
The Court of Appeal for Western Sweden ruled that Feras Alnadim’s “fundamental human rights” would be threatened because he would be at risk of reprisals.
The court cited Israel’s “potential interest in the case” and “the insecure situation at the border and in the territory”.
Alnadim, 22, was sentenced to two years in prison in June, as one of three men, two Palestinian and one Syrian, found guilty of firebombing a synagogue in Gothenburg on December 9.
Some 20 Jewish teenagers were celebrating together in the building when the firebomb was thrown, but no one was injured. The three men were identified from security camera footage and arrested shortly afterwards.
In its judgement, the appeal court said that as the attack had taken place only a few days after Donald Trump, the US president, announced the US embassy’s move to Jerusalem, saying it was clearly “intended as a revenge attack against Israel”.
It could also, it ruled, be considered “a serious political crime directed at other Jews”.
Efrat Hochstetler, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm, said the ruling was “a very politicised verdict that is not based on the reality that exists in Israel”.
“We are not a country that hunts people down at the airport and retaliates,” she said. “We are a democratic country with the rule of law and this verdict ignores that.”
Unlike the other two attackers, Alnadim has no right of residency in Sweden, as his asylum application had been rejected before he carried out the attack. In June, the court ruled that he should therefore be deported after completing his sentence.
The Court of Appeal on Wednesday reversed this decision, citing Sweden’s law on foreign nationals, which specifies that no one should be deported if there is sufficient reason to believe that they would be in danger of “inhumane or humiliating treatment or punishment”.
Ms Hochstetler was also critical of the way the verdict treated Alnadim’s claim that while he was opposed to Israel, he was not hostile to Jewish people.
“Having that in the verdict is a legitimisation of violent antisemitism,” she said. “I think that if someone firebombs a synagogue then this shows that there is hostility towards Jews that has nothing to do with Israel.”