12/17/2016
FM Wallstrom, who was warmly received in Ramallah, says ‘Palestinians are beginning to lose hope’

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom has said that her country plans to advance a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements when it assumes the council presidency in January.

Wallstrom told Palestinian officials during a visit to Ramallah Friday that she had discussed the upcoming presidency with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, Swedish newspaper Expressen reported.

“We hope that it will be possible for the Security Council to adopt a resolution on the settlements,” she said, according to the report.

“Sweden’s policy aims to create a future in which Israel and Palestine can live side by side,” Wallstrom said, Expressen reported. “It is deeply worrying that young Palestinians are beginning to lose hope for the future after 50 years of occupation.”

While Wallstrom spent two days in the West Bank meeting Palestinian officials, the Israeli government refused to meet with her.

With no Israeli officials being willing to meet the envoy, who has on several occasions rankled Jerusalem with comments about Israeli policies, Wallström met 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.

Israel’s official explanation is scheduling conflicts, but a senior Foreign Ministry source told Israeli daily 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.

Wallstrom 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 Wallstrom 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, Wallstrom 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.

I24