Sweden’s foreign minister Margot Wallstrom, whose five years in office saw a sharp deterioration ties between Stockholm and Jerusalem, announced Friday that she was stepping down from her post to focus on family.
“The time has come for me to spend more time with my husband, my children and my grandchildren. I have notified the Prime Minister of my wish to leave the government and my post as Minister for Foreign Affairs,” Wallstrom said on Twitter.
Wallstrom, a veteran of Sweden’s Social Democrats, has held the post since 2014 when Prime Minister Stefan Lofven formed his government, launching what she termed a “feminist foreign policy.”
When Sweden in 2014 became the first Western European nation to recognize a Palestinian state (one of her first actions as foreign minister) bilateral relations with Israel took a steep nosedive.
Tensions were further strained by Wallstrom’s accusations against Israel when she called the IDF’s killing of Palestinians carrying out stabbing and car-ramming attacks “extrajudicial killings,” and called for “thorough” investigations.
She also caused an outcry in the wake of the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris, when she identified the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as one of the factors explaining why “there are so many people who have become radicalized” — comments Israel called “appallingly impudent.”
In December 2016, Israeli officials threatened to boycott her during a planned trip to the region, which she subsequently canceled. The following year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to meet with Lofven on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The 64-year-old has a long career in both Swedish and international politics, having held positions in the European Commission and as the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
She also caused strained ties with other countries.
Sweden’s diplomatic ties with Riyadh were also frozen in 2015 after she called Saudi Arabia a “dictatorship” and slammed it for human rights abuses.
Born in 1954 in northern Sweden into a modest family, she became politically active as a teenager in the Social Democratic youth wing.
Early in her political career, Wallstrom was influenced by Sweden’s Social Democratic leader Olof Palme.