Israel Slams The Door Shut On Sweden's Foreign Minister

Is Israel trying to punish Sweden for recognizing the rights of Palestinian people?

Sweden Israel

Let’s just make some things clear. The Swedish government doesn’t support terrorism.

Last October, Sweden became the second western European country, after Iceland, to officially recognize Palestine as a sovereign state with the right to self-determination. They acknowledged the Palestinian people, not Hamas.

Sweden took the initiative to help and support a marginalized community that has long been confused with militants, despite knowing there could be unpleasant consequences.

However, Israel isn’t really interested in these details, apparently.

Israel announced this week that Sweden's foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, isn’t welcome for an official visit in the country, primarily because of Stockholm's decision to acknowledge Palestinian statehood.

When Wallstrom postponed a trip to Israel last week, it was widely speculated that Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman refused to meet her.

However, it has now been confirmed that the Israeli government has indeed decided to not hold any talks with any Swedish ministers – at least not for now.

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Israel’s decision has prompted outrage in Sweden – and rightly so.

“It is basically an insult,” Per Joensson, an editor with the Swedish Institute for International Affairs, told AFP. “That is not a way to treat a sovereign foreign minister, unless you really want to punish her.”

The refusal to welcome government officials just underscores Israel’s hard line, “you’re either with us or against us” policy.

Around 135 countries have recognized the state of Palestine, including several that are now European Union members. Even in France, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to visit a free speech rally last week, lawmakers have voted 339 to 151 in favor of Palestinian statehood.

But Israel, apparently, doesn’t care and isn’t even willing to negotiate or debate over the issue. (So much for democracy.)

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Despite the offensive way Israel has treated Sweden, Wallstrom said that she would visit Israel after the March 17 election there.

“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,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Annika Soeder told Swedish Radio.

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