Sweden: Israel is not being singled out

We are a ‘friend of both sides,’ says Stefan Löfven, embroiled in controversy over his weekend statement.

October 7, 2014 00:27
1 minute read.

Sweden's Prime minister Stefan Lofven announces his new government during a Parliament session in Stockholm October 3. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The decision to recognize a Palestinian state was one of dozens of foreign policy guidelines for the new Swedish government and Israel was not singled out, new Prime Minister Stefan Löfven told opposition leader Isaac Herzog Sunday.

Löfven’s comments came amid charges from Israeli politicians that the Jewish state had been singled out by the Swedes in a manner that was anti-Semitic. Löfven was taken aback by the extent of the criticism from Israel.

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“Sweden sees itself as a friend of both sides and will initiate a process of dialogue with both sides before taking any practical steps,” Löfven told the Labor leader.

Herzog told The Jerusalem Post that he explained to Löfven in a frank discussion that the Oslo Accords forbid unilateral steps. Recognition of a Palestinian state by Sweden would violate the same clauses in the Oslo Accords as Israel building a new settlement in the West Bank.

“The nations of the world need to support a process rather than unilateral steps,” Herzog said he told Löfven.

“As someone who adamantly believes in a two-state solution, I think the right thing to do is to move to negotiations rather than crawl endlessly in a futile manner that only endangers the future of both peoples.

“A bilateral process is preferable to any unilateral step, and unilateralism undermines the possibility of reaching an agreement by negotiations.”

Herzog has known Löfven for years and once hosted him for lunch in Jerusalem when he visited as leader of the Swedish opposition. In addition to Löfven, Herzog spoke Sunday to the country’s new foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, a former European commissioner.

“My party and Löfven’s are sister parties,” Herzog said. “I have a lot of respect for him.”

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