In decade’s 1st Israel visit by a Swedish FM, Linde vows to combat antisemitism

After meeting Stockholm’s top diplomat, Lapid says countries not letting disagreements over Palestinian issue drive them apart, as happened in the past

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde meets with President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem on October 18, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde meets with President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem on October 18, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Sweden’s foreign minister vowed to take action against antisemitism on Wednesday, during the first visit to Israel by Stockholm’s top diplomat in over a decade.

“On behalf of Sweden I promise that we say ‘never again,’ and mean it. We will continue to take action to combat antisemitism in all its forms, to make sure that we never forget, “ Ann Linde tweeted, after visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem.

Linde’s visit is part of Sweden’s effort to mend ties with the new Israeli government, after relations between the two countries soured in recent years over the conflict with the Palestinians.

Sweden’s Social Democratic-led government recognized Palestinian statehood in 2014, making it the first large European country to do so since the end of the Cold War. Its former foreign minister’s comments in support of the Palestinians drew angry responses from Israeli officials.

Sweden last week hosted world leaders at the International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance in Malmo, the country’s third-largest city, last week.

President Isaac Herzog thanked Linde for Sweden’s hosting of the confab during his meeting with the foreign minister on Monday, during which he also “stressed the need for international unity in combating antisemitism in all its forms wherever it appears,” his office said.

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde, second from right, pauses at a display at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on October 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

“Herzog emphasized the importance of the indisputable fact of Israel’s unique status in the family of nations as the state of the Jewish people, which maintains equality between all its citizens and is a liberal democracy,” the Israeli readout from their meeting added.

The president also urged Sweden to “actively support” the recent normalization agreements between Israel and several Arab nations, known as the Abraham Accords.

In her own tweet following the meeting, Linde said it was an honor to meet Herzog, a “longtime” friend, and “to confirm the friendship between our countries and our shared ambition to further strengthen and deepen relations.”

The foreign minister later met with her Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid, during which she “confirmed our strong commitment to the security of Israel,” she tweeted.

They also “discussed need for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Linde wrote.

Lapid noted that the two countries do not see eye-to-eye on certain issues, in clear reference to the Palestinian conflict. However, he said the sides are looking to work through those disagreements.

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde, second from right, leaves the Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, escorted by Dani Dayan, left, chairman of the Directorate of Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem on October 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

“In recent years, these disagreements have caused us to move apart. Today, we are changing this.

“I appreciate what you told me — that behind the criticism, lies a deep Swedish commitment to Israel’s security, and to the right of the Jewish people to establish a state for ourselves in our historic homeland. Thank you for your visit, Minister. I believe that because of the page we are turning here today, there will be a whole new book of friendship and cooperation,” the foreign minister tweeted.

Linde was also expected to meet with Palestinian officials in the West Bank.

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