Monday

23rd Sep 2019

Israeli media savage Swedish minister

  • Wallstroem, a former EU commissioner, has voiced criticism of Israel's killings of Palestinians, also of Saudi Arabia on women's rights (Photo: European Community, 2006)

Israeli media have highlighted fraud allegations against Sweden’s foreign minister, amid outrage over her criticism of Israeli killing of Palestinians.

The minister, Margot Wallstroem, is to face a criminal investigation into how she rented a Stockholm flat owned by Kommunal, a trade union, in what looks like queue-jumping in the city, which has a housing shortage.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The affair comes after she accused Israel in December of “extrajudicial” killing of Palestinians in the so-called Knife Intifada - an outbreak of knife and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians against Israelis.

She also called last week for an inquiry into the death toll - more than 150 Palestinians in the past four months, compared with 26 Israelis.

The Stockholm flat story made the news in leading Israeli media over the past few days, including: Arutz Sheva, Ynetnews, the Jerusalem Post, the Times of Israel, and Haaretz.

The Times of Israel used the headline: “Sweden’s Israel-bashing FM named in Stockholm housing scandal.”

Arutz Sheva used the sub-heading: “Outspokenly anti-Israel foreign minister, Margot Wallstroem, under investigation for illegally circumventing years-long housing wait list.”

Europe in decay

Most of the articles recalled Wallstroem’s remarks on the Palestinian killings and cited comments by Israeli ministers, who have variously described her as “outrageous and stupid” or “irresponsible and delusional”.

The Jerusalem Post also ran a story saying that seven opposition MPs in Sweden have called for a parliamentary debate on Wallstroem’s remarks, alleging that they constitute incitement to violence.

Dov Lipman from the World Zionist Organisation, who lobbied for the parliamentary hearing, said: “The fact … Wallstroem will have to answer these difficult questions in a public setting is a huge diplomatic success.”

Barry Shaw, an expert at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies, also wrote an op-ed in Arutz Sheva entitled: “European liberal left leaves Europe in decay, Wallstroem-style.”

He said Wallstroem and other left-leaning European politicians who voice sympathy for Palestinians are letting in too many Muslim migrants.

He said they have turned “homogeneous countries into dysfunctional societies”. He added: “Wallstroem-style compassion for terrorism will also find its limits in Sweden, it seems, only after it experiences murderous terrorism on its soil.”

Executions without trial

Haaretz, a government-critical newspaper, was more muted. It reprinted the housing affair story from the Reuters news agency.

Gideon Levy, a Haaretz op-ed writer, defended Wallstroem.

“Israel executes people without trial nearly every day. Any other description is a lie,” he said, adding: “In most cases, there was no need to shoot - and certainly not to kill … They shot to kill, to punish, to release their anger, and to take revenge."

He cited as an example the killing last Saturday of Said Abu al-Wafa, a Palestinian father-of-four, by soldiers at a checkpoint who “suspected” he had a knife. They shot him 11 times.

He also cited the killing of Ashrakat Qattanani, a 16-year old Palestinian who ran after an Israeli woman with a knife.

“First a settler ran her over with his car, and when she was lying injured on the ground, soldiers and settlers shot her at least four times. Execution - what else?” Levy said.

US backs EU on labels

Israeli diplomats last week also lobbied EU states to water down a statement saying they'll “unequivocally and explicitly” differentiate between Israel and its West Bank settlements in bilateral accords.

The statement came after the EU published a retail code for labels on settler exports, prompting Israeli accusations of a return to Nazi-era anti-Semitism.

But the US State Department on Tuesday backed the EU policy.

Spokesman John Kirby told the media in Washington: “We do not view labelling the origin of products as being from the settlements a boycott of Israel … We view Israeli settlement activity as illegitimate and counterproductive to the cause of peace.”

More than half a million settlers have moved to the Israeli-occupied West Bank since 1967, a number which, in recent times, is growing by 16,000 a year.

Israeli bulldozers demolish EU-funded buildings

Israeli bulldozers have demolished more than 20 buildings in Palestinian villages in the West Bank, including EU-funded structures, amid mounting European frustration.

Opinion

Old friends? Palestine, Cyprus, and Greece

Built on common experience and principles, Palestine’s friendship with Cyprus and Greece goes back a long way. Short-term economic gains should not be allowed to harm this.

News in Brief

  1. Doubt cast on new Maltese inquiry into slain reporter
  2. March by Slovak Catholics seeks abortion ban
  3. 600,000 stranded on holiday as Thomas Cook collapses
  4. Egypt: hundreds of protesters arrested over weekend
  5. Global car industry fears no-deal Brexit shock
  6. France: de-escalation between US and Iran priority
  7. Spain demands UK 'reciprocity' on resident rights
  8. Ireland: right Brexit deal is 'not yet close'

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us