Swedish FM calls Israel’s behavior ‘unacceptable’

Swedish FM calls Israel’s behavior ‘unacceptable’

Margot Wallström protests Jerusalem harsh response to Stockholm’s recognition of Palestine, decries treatment of Palestinians

Margot Wallstrom, Sweden's minister of foreign affairs, in her office in Stockholm, October 31, 2014 (AFP/Jonathan Nackstrand)
Margot Wallstrom, Sweden's minister of foreign affairs, in her office in Stockholm, October 31, 2014 (AFP/Jonathan Nackstrand)

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström claimed that Israel has angered its own allies with its harsh response to her country’s decision to recognize a Palestinian state.

Wallström expressed offense at Jerusalem’s rhetoric, saying its criticism had “crossed the boundaries”.

“It is unacceptable how they have been talking about us and everybody else,” the foreign minister said in an interview published Friday by Dagens Nyheter, a popular Swedish daily, as reported by Reuters. “It has not only irritated us, but the Americans and everyone who has anything to do with them right now.”

Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman likened Sweden’s recognition of a Palestinian state to the 1938 Munich agreement in which Britain and France ceded control of the Sudetenland region to Germany in an appeasement that ultimately failed to prevent World War II.

“The behavior of Sweden and Ireland toward us is comparable with that which led to the breakup of Czechoslovakia,” he said.

Relations deteriorated between the two countries when Stockholm decided to recognize a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders in October, sparking a wave of European parliaments to vote in favor of similar, albeit symbolic, measures in support of Palestinian statehood.

Israel rebuked Stockholm for the measure and recalled its ambassador back to Jerusalem for discussions. The Foreign Ministry also summoned the Swedish ambassador, Carl Mangus Nesser, to clarify his government’s decision to recognize a Palestinian state.

Wallström declared that she was committed to supporting Israel, Palestine and peace, but denounced Israel for being “extremely aggressive” with regard to the Palestinians.

“They have continued with their settlement policies, they have continued demolitions, they have continued with their occupation policies which entail a humiliation of Palestinians, which makes the [peace] process difficult.”

Wallström was scheduled to arrive in Israel this week in order to attend a memorial service for Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, a World War II era envoy who saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust. Liberman, however, declared that he would boycott the event if the Swedish minister was present, causing her to cancel her visit.

“We said that it is difficult to put these meetings together, diplomatic meetings of any kind, as we approach the elections,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Paul Hirschson told Reuters.

“I would add that the atmosphere between Israel and Sweden is not exactly the best right now and that factors into the decision. But the primary issue is the timing, more than anything else.”

Despite the cooling of relations, it has been reported that Wallström will visit the Jewish state following elections in March.

“It’s in everybody’s interest to have good diplomatic ties and we respect that there is an election campaign in Israel now and that there is a heightened debate,” Annika Soeder, a spokesperson for Stockholm’s foreign ministry, told Swedish Radio.

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