Swedish Minister to Resign Over Comments Comparing Israel to Nazi Germany

Mehmet Kaplan will leave housing minister post over comments in which he likened Israel's treatment of Palestinians to what happened to Jews in Nazi Germany, Sweden's prime minister says.

Sweden's Housing Minister Mehmet Kaplan.
Swedish Parliament website

Sweden's Housing Minister Mehmet Kaplan has resigned following comments comparing Israel's treatment of Palestinians to what happened to Jews in Nazi Germany, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said on Monday.

Kaplan, a 44-year-old Green Party member and former spokesman of Sweden's Muslim Council, said Monday he has done nothing wrong but was resigning because the criticism against him was interfering with his ability to perform his job.

The comments that daily Svenska Dagbladet first reported last week were made in 2009, before Kaplan entered the newly formed center-left government to represent the minor coalition partner the Green Party in 2014.

In 2010, Kaplan participated in the Turkish-flagged humanitarian aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip. When he attempted to land in Israel a few months later, he was denied entry to the country over the incident. 

Kaplan, who was born in Turkey, has also been criticized for appearing on pictures from a dinner attended by representatives from an ultra-nationalist Turkish organization. 

Kaplan told reporters his resignation was "not a confirmation of reports about me that I consider wrongful. I know who I am and what I have done."

The resignation comes amid reports of tensions within the center-left minority coalition government of Prime Minister Lofven's Social Democrats and the Green Party. 

The coalition had already been strained by an asylum crisis last year. Deputy Prime Minister Asa Romson of the Greens was close to tears when tougher asylum policies were presented late last year and criticism from within her party has been fierce.