Israel 'Extremely Unhappy' with Swedish Foreign Minister's Views on Palestinians, Boycotts Her Visit

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström addresses a press conference on November 8 after talks with Scandinavian and German counterparts at the Villa Borsig, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' guesthouse, Berlin. Israeli officials are to boycott her visit to the country this week. Sebastian Gollnow/AFP/Getty

The Israeli government is to shun Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström when she arrives in the country on Thursday because they are “extremely unhappy” with her position on the conflict with the Palestinians, according to a senior Israeli official.

Although the Israeli government’s official line was that they could not meet Wallström due to scheduling clashes, a source from the Israeli foreign ministry, speaking to Newsweek on condition of anonymity, says that the Swedish foreign minister’s past comments had led to her being given the cold shoulder.

“We are extremely unhappy with statements and decisions taken by the Swedish side,” the official said. “I think it is quite obvious that there is no great enthusiasm to meet her here.”

Sweden’s top diplomat is a critic of the Israeli government and its policies, and a supporter of Palestinian statehood. In December 2015, she said that Israel was committing “extrajudicial executions” of Palestinians who had attacked Israelis and called for a “thorough investigation.” 

Speaking in the aftermath of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) attacks in Paris on November 13 last year, Wallström said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a contributing reason for why “there are so many people who have become radicalized.” Sweden is now viewed in Israel as the least favorable European Union member state towards the Israeli government.

Israel maintains a military occupation in the West Bank where some two million Palestinians reside, and has continued settlement construction in the territory despite international criticism. Palestinians have carried out many stabbing, shooting and car-ramming attacks against Israeli civilians, soldiers and settlers in Jerusalem and the West Bank since October 2015.

The attacks have left dozens of Israelis dead, while Israeli forces have shot and killed more than 150 Palestinians in the same time, the majority of whom Israel says were attackers.

Wallström is to meet with the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah following Sweden’s decision to recognize a State of Palestine after the center-left came to power in 2014, a move which angered Israel.

The trip to the region comes before Sweden begins a two-year term on the U.N. Security Council. Wallström previously cancelled a visit to Israel in January 2015 when it became clear that Israeli officials would not meet with her.

“The focus of the talks is how Sweden and Palestine can deepen relations after Sweden's recognition of Palestine, the importance of democratic development, respect for human rights and gender equality and what can be done to strengthen the hope of a two-state solution, in which Israel and Palestine can live side by side in peace and security,” her office said in a statement, news site The Local reported.