Israel raps Sweden envoy after minister’s remarks on Palestinian ‘desperation’

Discussing Paris, Swedish FM says some Palestinians think violence is only option; Gold: Comment can be seen as justification for terror

Carl Magnus Nesser, Swedish ambassador to Israel (courtesy Swedish Embassy)
Carl Magnus Nesser, Swedish ambassador to Israel (courtesy Swedish Embassy)

The director general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Dore Gold, reprimanded the Swedish ambassador to Israel Carl Magnus Nesser on Monday after Sweden’s foreign minister appeared to draw a connection between the Paris attacks and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Margot Wallström, Sweden’s minister of foreign affairs, told Sweden’s state television over the weekend that other countries should worry about the rise of extremism. “Yes, it is clear that we have reasons to worry… to see that there are so many people who have become radicalized.

“And once again we return to situations like that in the Middle East, especially (concerning) Palestinians who think: There is no future for us, we must accept a desperate situation or resort to violence.”

Israel on Monday criticized the “appallingly impudent” remarks and summoned the Swedish ambassador “for clarification.”

“During the conversation, Dr. Gold harshly criticized the hurtful remarks by the Swedish minister, and said any connection between Islamic State terror and the Palestinian issue is baseless and that her comments may be interpreted as a justification of Palestinian terror,” a statement from the Foreign Ministry said.

Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold in Jerusalem, June 1, 2015 (AFP/Thomas Coex)
Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold in Jerusalem, June 1, 2015 (AFP/Thomas Coex)

During the meeting with the Swedish ambassador, Gold also raised the issue of EU labeling of West Bank products, accusing Sweden of “being one of the countries leading the calls to label the products,” which he said is “discriminatory” and “singles out Israel.”

Gold emphasized that “labeling products will not advance the diplomatic process and may actually harm the Palestinians employed by Israeli companies over the Green Line.”

It was not the first time that Wallström has drawn a parallel between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the bolstering of radical movements in the Middle East.

Margot Wallström, Sweden's Minister of Foreign Affairs, in her office on October 31, 2014, in Stockholm. (photo credit: AFP/Jonathan Nackstrand)
Margot Wallström, Sweden’s minister of foreign affairs, in her office in Stockholm, October 31, 2014 (AFP/Jonathan Nackstrand)

Last year, after Sweden’s recognition of the state of Palestine infuriated Israel, Wallström said: “We want to contribute to creating more hope and belief in the future among young Palestinians and Israelis who might otherwise run the risk of radicalization, in the belief that there is no alternative to the current situation.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Wallström “has consistently demonstrated bias against Israel and exhibits genuine hostility when she indicates a connection of any kind between the terrorist attacks in Paris and the complex situation between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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