Monday

22nd May 2017

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.

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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

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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.

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