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Sweden FM Margot Wallstroem / Israel FM Avigdor Lieberman

Swedish foreign minister not welcome in Israel, offical says

'The Swedish foreign minister would not have been given any official meetings in Israel if she had traveled here. What Sweden did was an utterly unfriendly action,' Foreign Ministry spokesperson says.

Israel said Thursday that Sweden's foreign minister was not welcome for an official visit in the country, with relations strained over Stockholm's recognition of Palestine.

 

 

The minister, Margot Wallstroem, was scheduled to arrive in Israel in mid-January in order to attend a memorial service for the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who saved Jews during the Holocaust. However, prior to the visit, Foreign Minister Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced he would boycott the Swedish Foreign Minister’s visit.

 

Sweden FM Margot Wallstroem / Israel FM Avigdor Lieberman
Sweden FM Margot Wallstroem / Israel FM Avigdor Lieberman

 

Sweden also considered the possibility of having Wallstrom meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu however they were told the meeting would not take place.

 

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Sweden's decision in October to recognize the state of Palestine - the first major EU nation to do so - infuriated Israel, which temporarily recalled its ambassador to Stockholm.

 

"Do not wait to travel to Israel until the Swedish foreign minister comes here, because that could take a long time," Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told public broadcaster Swedish Radio.

 

"The Swedish foreign minister would not have been given any official meetings in Israel if she had traveled here. What Sweden did was an utterly unfriendly action," Nahshon added.

 

Wallstroem considered making the trip without official meetings but would have been without a security detail during the commemoration of Swedish Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg and other events, the radio said, without giving sources.

 

"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."

 

Despite the furor, Sweden said Wallstroem 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.

 

According to the Palestinian Authority, around 135 countries have recognized the state of Palestine including several that are now EU members.

 


פרסום ראשון: 01.15.15, 17:20
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