Stockholm's explanation dismissed as 'a masterpiece of hypocrisy'

Israel reprimands Swedish envoy over ‘nasty propaganda’ at UNESCO

Foreign Ministry expresses ‘bitter disappointment’ to only European country to back text rejecting Israeli claims to Jerusalem

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

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

Sweden’s ambassador to Israel was summoned Wednesday to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, where he was dressed down over Stockholm’s support for an anti-Israel resolution that was passed at the United Nations’ cultural agency the day before.

Ambassador Carl Magnus Nesser was reprimanded by Rodica Radian-Gordon, the ministry’s deputy director-general for Europe, and Alon Bar, who oversees the ministry’s international organizations department.

“The senior officials expressed their bitter disappointment over Sweden’s vote at UNESCO. This is a vote against Israel, part of a systematic voting pattern,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said.

Sweden was the only European country that voted in favor of the resolution, which disputed Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and harshly criticized the Jewish state for several projects in the capital and Hebron and condemned its naval blockade of Gaza.

The vote, which coincided with Israel’s Independence Day, passed with 22 countries in favor, 23 abstentions, 10 opposed, and the representatives of three countries absent.

Among the 22 states that supported the resolutions were many Arab and Muslim states, but also Russia, China, Brazil, Nigeria, Vietnam and other ostensible friends of Israel. The Foreign Ministry did not reply to a query as to why Sweden was singled out for rebuke.

Hours before Sweden voted in favor of the resolution, Nesser, who has been summoned to the Foreign Ministry several times in the past over controversial statements by Swedish leaders, posted a video in Hebrew to the embassy’s Facebook page, wishing Israelis a happy Independence Day.

After the vote at UNESCO’s Executive Board, the Swedish representative explained Stockholm’s support by pointing out that Tuesday’s resolution was much softer than previous versions.

“The text has improved substantially compared to previous years. All amendments proposed by the EU side have been incorporated in the text,” it said in a statement.

Sweden was ready for “concessions” to guarantee an EU consensus, but after Italy announced its intention to vote against, “and since Sweden believes the current text is acceptable, Sweden has voted in favour,” the statement read.

“UNESCO plays an important role in promoting peace through cooperation within the fields of education, culture, science and communication, and carries out important work in cultural heritage protection and preservation,” it concluded.

Nahshon, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, dismissed Sweden’s explanation as “a masterpiece of hypocrisy, playing skillfully with nasty anti-Israel propaganda.”

Sweden has consistently supported such resolutions in the past.

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