Bildt: No plan to condemn anti-Semitism

Swedish FM denies report that 'Aftonbladet' article will be tackled at EU foreign ministers meeting.

carl bildt 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
carl bildt 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
The crisis over the Swedish newspaper article claiming IDF soldiers killed Palestinians and snatched their organs refuses to fade away, with Sweden's foreign minister denying a report that his country will work with Italy to pass a resolution condemning anti-Semitism at an upcoming informal meeting of European foreign ministers. Monday's Haaretz quoted Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini as saying that he and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt had agreed to work to pass a resolution saying that the EU, under the current Swedish presidency, strongly condemned anti-Semitism and would work against its manifestations in Europe. Frattini, according to the paper, said he would demand that the statement make clear reference to the offensive Aftonbladet article. Later in the day, however, the Swedish news agency TT quoted Bildt - currently on a trip to Kabul - as denying that he discussed with Frattini a possible resolution to the Israeli-Swedish friction at the upcoming meeting. According to the news agency, the head of communications at the Swedish Foreign Ministry, Cecilia Julin, denied that Bildt and Frattini had discussed the dispute, or a possible resolution at the Council of Ministers. "From the Swedish side we have no plans to handle this question through the informal foreign ministers' meeting in Stockholm," said Julin. Bildt suggested that Frattini's comment must have arisen through an "Italian misunderstanding," she said. Swedish President Fredrik Reinfeldt also continued to hunker down on Monday behind the official Swedish position that this was an issue of press freedom, and that the Swedish government could not take a stand. Referring to Swedish laws regarding freedom of the press, Reinfeldt said at a press conference in Stockholm, "We cannot be asked by anyone to contravene the Swedish constitution, and this is something we will also not do within the European Union." Israel has said repeatedly that it was not asking the Swedish government to impinge upon freedom of the press, but rather to condemn a "blood libel" that appeared in a Swedish newspaper. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu brought up the issue with visiting EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Monday, saying Israel attributed a great deal of importance to a Swedish condemnation of the article. "This type of blood libel cannot stand," Netanyahu was quoted as saying. "It is unacceptable." Bildt, meanwhile, is still scheduled to arrive in Israel on September 11 for a one-day visit. Israel, according to diplomatic officials, continues to wait for a condemnation of the article by the Swedish government. If such a condemnation is not forthcoming by the time of Bildt's visit, the officials said, then it would cast a serious cloud over the trip and Sweden's efforts to play a significant role in the diplomatic process.