Swedish reporter banned entry to Gaza
Prime Minister Netanyahu demands clear Swedish condemnation of article accusing IDF of harvesting Palestinian organs. Meanwhile, Government Press Office refuses to grant entry permits to Aftonbladet journalist. 'We may have to examine their blood type to check if they are eligible for organ donation,' GPO head says cynically
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expects the Swedish government to explicitly denounce a Swedish newspaper report claiming that Israel Defense Forces harvested Palestinians' organs for transplant and "its anti-Semitic essence".
The Swedish foreign minister condemned the report in his personal blog, and Netanyahu views this as "a step in the right direction", but says it is insufficient as long as the government in Stockholm fails to issue an official statement on the matter.
The Swedish government has so far refrained from denouncing the newspaper wholeheartedly, leaning on the principle of freedom of press.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Sunday morning, "We are in a crisis until the Swedish government issues a different response.
"The State of Israel, the Jewish people's state, cannot ignore expressions of anti-Semitism, even if they are made in a respectable newspaper. Those refusing to renounce such blood libels may become unwanted in the State of Israel," he said.
Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog noted that this was not a one-time incident, "but a media campaign which has been going on for years."
Meanwhile, revenge is already seen on the ground. The Government Press Office (GPO) On Sunday morning prevented a reporter and photographer for the Swedish paper Aftonbladet, which published the controversial report, from entering Gaza. The two were told by the GPO that they would have to wait three months for a pass.
The Foreign Ministry declared last week that it would not grant the newspaper reporters entrance permits until the dispute is resolved. Daniel Seaman, head of the GPO, said cynically that "we may have to examine their blood type to check if they are eligible for organ donation."
The article which sparked a row (from Aftonbladet's website)
"Those two have fallen into our hands like ripe fruit," Seaman told Ynet. "Their newspaper did something that must not be done. We may have made some harsh comments towards them, but this is required on the backdrop of the newspaper's attitude towards Israel.
"Over the past few months, many pro-Palestinian activists have been trying to enter Israel, presenting letters from newspaper editorial boards in Sweden. Our job is to check this, and all the more so when we are dealing with a newspaper that published such a blood libel."
Last week, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman compared the Swedish government's faint response to the newspaper report to "its silence during the Holocaust".
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt spoke over the weekend with Netanyahu's national security advisor, Uzi Arad, seeking to ease the tensions ahead of his planned visit to Israel next month.
Jerusalem is now waiting to see whether the Swedish foreign minister's tone during the telephone conversation signals a new direction in Stockholm's policy, which would allow ending the affair.