Israel to shun visiting Swedish foreign minister, say reports
Ilmars Znotins (AFP/File)
The Israeli government has refused to meet with Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström when she visits the region this week, Israeli media outlets report.
With no Israeli officials being willing to meet the envoy, who has on several occasions rankled Jerusalem with comments about Israeli policies, Wallström will be meeting solely with representatives of the Palestinian Authority.
This follows a request by the Swedish government last week to arrange meetings for Wallström with Netanyahu, who serves as Israel's foreign minister, Israeli daily Haaretz reports.
Israel's official explanation is scheduling conflicts, but a senior Foreign Ministry source told Haaretz that the true reason is disappointment with Sweden's stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the envoy's comments in particular.
“We reached the conclusion that there’s nobody to talk to and nothing to talk about,” the source told the newspaper.
Wallström has frequently been a vocal critic of Israeli policies. Last year for example, she called for an investigation into alleged extrajudicial killings of Palestinians. Israel's Foreign Ministry has said that Wallström was "giving support to terror and thus encouraging violence" and called her statements "irresponsible and delusional."
However, Swedish opposition leader Anna Kinberg Batra told Israeli lawmakers in September that the minister is opposed to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Sweden was the first Western European country to recognize a state of Palestine back in October 2014, a move that Israel strongly condemned.
Back in January 2015, Wallström said that Israel has angered close allies with its harsh response to her country’s decision to recognize a Palestinian state, adding that its criticism had “crossed the boundaries.”
“It has not only irritated us, but the Americans and everyone who has anything to do with them right now," she said at the time.
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If she is unwelcome, why let her in to visit the P-A? She can meet them in Eurabia or Transjordan.