Swedish Foreign Minister Can’t Get a Meeting in Yerushalayim

YERUSHALAYIM -

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom remains persona non grata as far as Israel is concerned.

That was the message, it seemed, when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu refused to meet with Wallstrom, scheduled to arrive in Israel on Thursday. No other Israeli official will be meeting with her, either.

A senior Foreign Ministry official was quoted by Haaretz as saying the official explanation for refusing a request from Sweden to arrange the meetings for Wallstrom was scheduling conflicts. But the real reason, he said, was the government’s unhappiness with Sweden’s policy on the Israeli-Palestinian issue in general, and Wallstrom’s own statements in particular.

“We reached the conclusion that there’s nobody to talk to and nothing to talk about,” he said.

Sweden begins a two-year term on the U.N. Security Council January 1, and it is also expected to serve as the council’s rotating president next month, when the Palestinians say they intend to bring a resolution condemning Israel’s policies on Yehudah and Shomron.

With no meetings in Yerushalayim in the offing, Wallstrom will have to make do with a visit to the Palestinian Authority.

Israeli officials have found Sweden’s Israel policy to be increasingly egregious. In October 2014, a newly elected government in Stockholm decided to recognize Palestine as a state. Sweden has also antagonized Israel by pushing for labeling of products from Yehudah and Shomron in supermarkets throughout Europe.

As for Wallstrom, her comments during the Palestinian stabbing attacks over the past year or so enraged Israeli Foreign Ministry officials.

In November 2015, during an interview about that month’s terror attacks by the Islamic State in Paris, Wallstrom was asked whether she worried that young Swedes were also being radicalized and joining ISIS.

“Obviously, we have reason to be worried, not just in Sweden but across the world, because there are so many that are being radicalized,” she replied. “Here, once again, we are brought back to situations like the one in the Middle East, where, not least, the Palestinians see that there isn’t a future. [They] must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence,” she added.

Israel protested Wallstrom’s linking of the Paris attacks to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the Foreign Ministry’s then-director general, Dore Gold, summoned the Swedish ambassador in Tel Aviv for a reprimand.