Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly rejected a proposed meeting with Sweden’s prime minister during the upcoming United Nations General Assembly, in part because of Sweden’s decision to recognize a Palestinian state in 2014.
The snub of Stefan Lofven marked the second year in a row the prime minister has turned down the Swedish prime minister’s invitation for a sit down, Channel 2 reported Saturday. The request for a meeting was rebuffed as “not possible,” the TV report said.
Israel has had tense relations with Sweden since Lofven’s election in 2014, shortly after which Stockholm recognized the State of Palestine, becoming the first major European Union member to do so.
The move was met with widespread anger in Israel and ties between the two countries have remained strained over comments made by Lofven concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including that a wave of stabbing attacks in Israel did not constitute terrorism.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström has also drawn Israel’s ire for a series of comments she made, such as linking Palestinian frustration to the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris by the Islamic State.
The report said while in New York for the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu will meet with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Brazilian President Michel Temer, Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who Netanyahu praised for his country’s support of Israel at the UN during his visit to Israel in July.
Netanyahu is also scheduled to meet with US President Donald Trump on Monday ahead of the General Assembly.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, said Saturday that “there is a new era at the United Nations” under the Trump presidency, adding that Vice President Mike Pence would be coming to the UN on Tuesday to discuss the imperative for wide-ranging reform of the UN Human Rights Council, which Israel and the US have repeatedly condemned for anti-Israel obsession and bias. Unless such reform is instituted, the US will no longer “support” the UNHRC, Danon said Pence would make clear.
The TV report said Holland the UK were also committed to reform of the UNHRC.