Israeli officials have a blunt message for Margot Wallstrom, the Swedish foreign minister: You are not welcome here.
“We decline to host the Swedish foreign minister in Israel,” Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, told reporters on Wednesday. “The State of Israel is closing its doors to official Swedish visits.” An Israeli spokesman later clarified that the move did not apply to all Swedish officials, just the foreign minister. “It’s just Margot Wallstrom,” Emmanuel Nahshon told the Swedish news agency TT.
Wallstrom had been due to visit Israel on Thursday to attend an event in honor of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swede who saved tens of thousands of Jews during World War II, but the trip was canceled at the last minute. The Swedish Foreign Ministry says there was a scheduling conflict, though Swedish Radio News reports that Israeli officials had refused to meet with her.
Israel’s public rejection of Wallstrom is a response to comments made by the Swedish foreign minister about allegations that Israeli forces had carried out extrajudicial killings during recent clashes with Palestinians. “It is vital that there are thorough, credible investigations into these deaths in order to clarify and bring about possible accountability,” she had told Swedish lawmakers on Tuesday.
At least 140 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since
The Swedish foreign minister had previously commented on the risk of extrajudicial killings, in December, prompting a rebuke from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “It seems she expects Israel’s citizens to bare their throats to those trying to stab them,” Netanyahu said in comments to his cabinet that were broadcast on Israeli television. He reiterated this criticism in a meeting with foreign journalists on Thursday, dubbing Wallstrom’s comments “outrageous, immoral and stupid.”
The allegations of extrajudicial killings are just the latest problem between Wallstrom and Israel, and they are just one of a number of disputes the Swedish foreign minister has found herself embroiled in since entering office in October 2014. Sweden has been pursuing what has been called a “feminist foreign policy” since then – one that has led to notable diplomatic spats with Morocco and Saudi Arabia.
The issue with Israel arose almost immediately after Wallstrom took office as part of Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s new
Lieberman, now out of government, raised the Ikea analogy again after the latest dispute with Wallstrom. “I’m not calling to sever relations with Sweden, but I do recommend that everyone stop shopping at Ikea; there are enough
Israel had also expressed outrage at comments made by Wallstrom in the aftermath of the Paris attacks in November. The Swedish foreign minister had suggested that there was a link between the
For now, Israel’s Foreign Ministry has stopped short of cutting off full relations with Sweden, but it has now twice summoned Swedish Ambassador Carl Magnus Nesser to express anger at Wallstrom’s comments. According to reports in the Israeli press, Nesser was told that Sweden would be excluded from any role related to
As Per Jonsson, a Middle East expert at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, told WorldViews in October: “Sweden has definitely taken a back seat in the
Source: Washington Post