Monday

23rd Sep 2019

Swedish-Israeli relations continue to deteriorate

  • Sweden has roundly denied having political contact with Hamas (Photo: EUobserver)

Relations between Sweden, the EU presidency-in-office, and Israel have gone from bad to worse after Israel accused Sweden of breaking an EU ban on contact with Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the allegations at a meeting with Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos 10 days ago, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

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

Sweden on Monday (21 September) reportedly summoned Israel's ambassador in Stockholm, Benny Dagan, to clarify Mr Netanyahu's remarks and issued a robust denial.

"The government of Sweden has no political contact with Hamas. We are acting in accord with all EU policies in this area and allegations about such contacts have no substance," it said in a statement.

Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad on 14 September told EUobserver that high-ranking officials from EU countries, including people "very close" to EU leaders and foreign ministers, meet with the militant group on a weekly basis.

He mentioned visits from France, Spain, Germany, Italy, the UK and Luxembourg, but not Sweden.

The EU in 2006 formally suspended high-level talks with Hamas, which it calls a terrorist entity.

Swedish-Israeli relations already suffered in August, when Sweden declined Israeli demands to censure a Swedish newspaper article accusing Israeli soldiers of selling the bodily organs of dead Palestinians.

Sweden's chancellor of justice, Goran Lambertz, on Monday (21 September), quashed an enquiry into whether the organ-harvesting article incited racial hatred.

The Nordic country has also criticised Israeli settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories and supported an EU freeze on plans to upgrade diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

Spain, which takes over the rotating EU presidency in January, has in recent times been more Israel-friendly than Sweden.

Spanish Prime Minister Jorge Luis Zapatero is to visit Jerusalem on 14 October. And foreign minister Moratinos has good contacts with the Israeli administration following his work as the EU envoy for the Middle East peace process from 1996 to 2003.

Analysis

How should the EU handle Russia now?

Should West help Russian opposition in its struggle against the regime, or make new deals with Putin, as France is keen to do?

Central European leaders demand Balkan EU accession

Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia have demanded to open accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania this year, as Hungary's man prepares to take over the enlargement portfolio.

Just 5% of Europeans trust Trump

European voters believe that EU's foreign policies should be more coherent and effective in order to remain neutral in potential international conflicts, since most EU citizens no longer rely on the US security guarantee, according to a new report.

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. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  2. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  4. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  8. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  10. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  11. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  12. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us