Elections in Denmark – bad news for Israel?

The uncertainty surrounding the European economic project played an important role in recent Danish parliamentary elections. The voting masses turned away from the conservatives and embraced the opposition parties Radikale Venstre (Socialist People’s Party) which gained eight seats and the Red-Green alliance, Endhedslisten which also increased its number of seats by eight. The conservative parties lost thirteen seats, although the ruling Venstre (Liberal Party) is still the country’s largest political party.
How the Danish election result will impact the country’s foreign policy remains to be seen, but as with other Nordic countries, the political disposition of the party determines its attitude toward Israel. The attitudes generally hover somewhere between cautious friendliness, indifference and unconcealed hostility. The right wing parties are generally more inclined to support Israel whereas the left is hesitant and often aggressively antagonistic.
It seems that the chairman of Socialistik Folkeparti (Socialist People''s Party), Villy Søvndal, will be Denmark’s new foreign minister. Several weeks before the elections, Søvndal declared that Denmark should recognize Palestine as an independent state regardless of the EU or Israel.
In the past years Søvndal has been championing campaigns that aim to boycott Israel. In 2002 Søvndal was the main speaker at a Boycott Israel demonstration. In 2005, Søvndal and eleven other Socialist People’s Party MP’s signed a boycott Israel initiative. The website where the imitative can be found also includes an obituary for the late George Habash. The MP’s expressed their sorrow over the loss of Habash and signed a letter which stated that “the Palestinian revolution has suffered a great loss in George Habash’s death”. Habash was a member of the PFLP and masterminded the hijacking of four Western airliners in 1970. Furthermore, he was behind the attack on Israel’s Lod airport in which 27 people were murdered.
Until 2002, when the EU placed PFLP on the list of designated terrorist organizations, Søvndal’s party provided the PFLP with moral and financial assistance.
The obsession that the current foreign ministers of Norway, Sweden and Finland often display regarding Israel is known to all. However, these countries hold increasing sway in European affairs as the Nordic countries are the current torchbearers of the failing European project, especially considering the diminished economic and consequent political power of southern Europe. Time will tell if this power will have a significant impact on EU’s policies vis-à-vis Israel.
Next week I will attend a conference hosted by the Association of Danes in Israel which will discuss Denmark’s role in the establishment of state of Israel. In the light of recent elections in Denmark, it will be interesting to hear how the Danish ambassador envisions the future of relations between Denmark and Israel.
[email protected]