Still reeling from Sweden’s announcement Wednesday that they would not participate in an international military training exercise due to Israel’s part in it, the Swedish ambassador was invited Thursday to the Foreign Ministry to clarify the situation.
During their Jerusalem meeting Director-General Ron Prosor expressed his grievance to Swedish envoy Robert Rydberg that his nation rejected Israel as a colleague in the European exercise.
“Whoever rejects Israel rejects itself as a player in the peace process,” Prosor emphasized to Rydberg. He added that Stockholm’s move “could be interpreted as support for those in the international community who call for the de-legitimization of Israel.”
'Israel not doing anything to achieve peace'
The Foreign Ministry Director General expressed his concern regarding reports that Sweden was planning to breach the West’s boycott of Hamas, and offer entry permits to areas of Hamas activity. Prosor noted that this could be a precedential step by a European country, which could be interpreted as approval of terrorism and terror organization.
The military exercise in question, part of the “Spring Flag” series, is slated to take place in Sardinia, Italy, on May 25-28. The exercise is supposed to aid in the joint training and coordination and create possibilities for further cooperation between international peace forces. Nine European nations were supposed to participate, including Sweden and Israel.
Sweden, however, pulled out citing Israel’s participation in it. “Israel is not doing anything to achieve peace now,” Stockholm communicated to Jerusalem.
An official spokesperson for the Scandinavian country explained yesterday during an interview with a local radio station: “Our analysis is that, at the moment, Israel’s participation in this type of peacekeeping effort is unreasonable, considering the political situation in the Middle East.”
Diplomatic sources explained that the Swedish ambassador was invited to meet with Prosor due to a growing Swedish trend which has been
Recently, the matter of furnishing Hamas members with visas has become increasingly controversial in Europe, after non-governmental organizations in a number of countries invited Hamas members for talks and meetings contrary to their countries’ official stance against the terrorist organization. France, for example, turned away a number of Hamas members asking to enter the country after being invited there by French organizations. Sweden and Norway, however, have taken a different line.
Sweden’s deputy Foreign Minister explained that “Although Hamas is a terror organization, its members aren’t necessarily on that list,” referring Stockholm’s granting of permits to two Hamas members who wished to visit. Officials in Jerusalem expressed shock over this reasoning, especially after one of the two extolled the recent suicide bombing in Tel Aviv in interviews with international media.
“These trends are infuriating. This time we decided not to overlook it,” Foreign Ministry officials said, but added that it is likely that the current meeting between Prosor and Rydberg will close the case, as Sweden isn’t expected to "go too far." After all, the officials noted, Sweden is a member of the European Union and is obligated to conform to its official stance towards Hamas.
However, in Jerusalem officials had difficulty veiling their rage and shock over Sweden’s recent statements and decisions. “Maybe it is time for Israel’s ministers to stop driving Swedish Volvos,” one official commented cynically.