Minister Steinitz Calls Swedish FM 'anti-Semitic'

Steinitz slams Swedish call to investigate Israel for treatment of Palestinians; Deputy Foreign Minister Hotovely says 'Israel is closing its gates to official visits from Sweden'; Senior official says no such decision has been made.

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Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, who remarks on terror drew condemnationa from Israel, attends a news conference at the Rosenbad government building in Stockholm, Oct. 30, 2014.
Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, who remarks on terror drew Israeli condemnations, attends a news conference at the Rosenbad government building in Stockholm, Oct. 30, 2014.Credit: AP

Minister Yuval Steinitz said Wednesday that Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom is "anti-Semitic, whether consciously or not."

Steinitz's remarks came in response Wallstrom's call for an investigation to determine if Israel was guilty of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians during recent violence.

In an interview with Israel Radio, the minister of national infrastructure, energy and water accused Wallstrom of singling Israel out. Steinitz noted that other nations, such as the United States, Russia and France kill terrorists, but Wallstrom has not demanded investigations against them. He further claimed that Sweden had produced more Islamic State volunteers than any country in Europe.

Earlier Wednesday, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, during a tour in the West Bank with future Israeli diplomats on the ministry's cadet course, said that "Israel is closing its gates to official visits from Sweden."

Hotovely's comments raised eyebrows – not only in diplomatic circles, but also in the Prime Minister's Office, where an official told Haaretz that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows nothing about any decision to close the gates for official visits by Swedish officials.

In 2014, then Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman recalled Israel's ambassador to Sweden, Isaac Bachman, from Stockholm for consultations in protest of Sweden's recognition of a Palestinian state.

"The Swedish government needs to understand that relations in the Middle East are more complicated than a piece of furniture from IKEA that you assemble at home, and should act with responsibility and sensitivity," Lieberman said at the time.

Wallstrom, Sweden's foreign minister, responded to Lieberman's IKEA comment. "I will be happy to send Israel FM Lieberman an IKEA flat pack to assemble. He'll see it requires a partner, cooperation and a good manual," she said.

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