The foreign minister of Sweden, Carl Bildt recently upgraded the status of the Palestinian delegation from general delegation to mission and consequently welcomed the new Palestinian ambassador Hala Husni Fariz to Sweden.
Bildt''s move drew criticism from Swedish politicians who claimed that the minister had not consulted other parties in the government. According to Fredrik Malm of the Liberal Party, "It is regrettable that Carl Bildt has made this decision and it is unfortunate that it happens just at a time when the UN is set to discuss the recognition of the Palestinian state."
Moreover, the decision to upgrade the status now, just weeks before the UN vote surprised many. Désirée Pethrus, spokesperson for the Christian Democrats was troubled by Bildt''s move: "I am surprised that the decision for the change comes now when the issue is such a hot potato in the UN."
For a seemingly cerebral statesman, Bildt''s rhetoric and actions regarding Israel are often marred with passion and impulsiveness. For example, in 2007 he cancelled a trip to Israel due to the organ harvesting row which turned out to be a product of the Aftonbladet reporter Donald Boström''s feral imagination.
Boström''s article harmed the relations between Israel and Sweden, but instead of traveling to Israel and engaging with the Israelis, Bildt decided to give legitimacy to the accusations presented in Boström’s article by cancelling the visit.
In this video one can see the passion that Bildt seems to ooze when it comes to Israel. The Arab reporter’s question on Iran vis-à-vis its nuclear program was all but dismissed by Bildt who preferred to reserve his steadfast rhetoric for Israel and the settlements. Bildt stated that there is "no natural growth" and that Sweden''s position is "very clear" regarding the settlements. Bildt stressed that the Israeli government should be engaged, but did not present any such demands to the Iranian leadership.
In the aftermath of the infamous Mavi Marmara flotilla to Gaza which led to the killing of several Turkish citizens, Bildt took the time to meet with the Swedes who had been part of the flotilla and consequently demanded that Israel change its Gaza policy.
When looking at Bildt''s high profile statements and actions regarding settlements or the flotilla, it is clear that he often sides with the most fervent anti-Israel groups. Bildt’s behavior seems to be telling of a deep passion which is either motivated by unbridled love for the Palestinians and their cause or by deep resentment of Israel.
Throughout his tenure as foreign minister, instead of focusing on peace, Bildt has centered his attention on the perceived wrongdoings of Israel. Fredrik Malm sees Bildt''s posturing as unbalanced and hopes that his focus would be on a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
Bildt''s counterparts, Finland''s Erkki Tuomioja and Norway''s Jonas Gahr Støre are similar to Bildt in their views toward Israel and the Palestinians. However, what makes Bildt an exception is the fact that he often practices what he preaches. Unlike Gahr Støre and Tuomioja, Bildt has unabashedly aligned himself with Israel''s sworn enemies whether flotilla activists, Hamas or conspiracy theorists.
I spoke with Kent Ekeroth, a Swedish MP for the Sweden Democrats, who hinted at a possible deterioration in relations between Sweden and Israel considering Sweden''s enthusiastic support for the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. Bildt''s belligerence toward Israel has won him admirers in the Arab world and among Europe''s political left. However, Bildt''s lopsided approach has led to a situation where Sweden''s once noble reputation as an honest peace broker has been email@example.com