Sweden opposition criticizes gov't for stance on Morocco's occupation of Western Sahara

FM Wallström is seen to be taking hard line on Israeli settlements, while pushing for acceptance of Morocco annexation of Western Sahara.

December 16, 2015 06:21
1 minute read.
Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom

Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The Swedish government's foreign policy made headlines again on Monday, after Foreign Minister Margot Wallström took a stance against an EU court's annulment of a trade agreement with Morocco, over the latter's occupation and annexation of mineral-rich Western Sahara.

A representative of the Swedish foreign minister noted that all 28 EU members voted against the annulment, which sought to prevent exports from the territory being sold in the EU, as has been occurring under the agreement since it was signed in 2012.

Swedish domestic opposition parties, however, have heavily criticized the government for its stance, reminiscent to the growing unease inside the country at the government's strong support for the labeling of Israeli settlement products, which has been likened to tacit encouragement of a boycott.

The government's position on the Morocco trade agreement appears to radically depart from its line on West Bank labeling. In the case of Israel, Wallström has regularly been seen as a major driving force inside the EU for harsher measures against the Jewish state.

When the EU guidelines were passed in November, Israeli politicians from much of the political spectrum spoke out against the move, many specifically referencing the double standards applied to Israel compared with Morocco.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked pointed out that the European Commission did not require labeling for products from Western Sahara among other disputed territories.

In a statement last month, Shaked had quoted the European Commission as stating that it does not “foresee any specific rules regarding requirements as to the labeling of products” regarding EU agreements with Morocco. Israel’s association agreement with the EU also does not mention specific origin labeling.

After Wallström's statement, it appears that Sweden now pursues different trade policy positions for Israel and Morocco.

Wallström has not been making headlines for the right reasons in Israel in recent months. The minister drew the ire of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over her allegation that Israel was practicing "extra-judicial killings" in its stopping of terrorists during the recent wave of terror. Wallström provided no evidence for her claim.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Sweden was the sole EU state who opposed the annulment of the trade agreement with Morocco.

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