Sweden to appoint Middle East peace envoy

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom announces her country will be involved in Israel-PA peace talks.

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Elad Benari,

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom
Reuters

Sweden announced on Wednesday it would appoint a special envoy to the Israel-Palestinian Authority (PA) peace process, The Local news website reported.

The announcement was made by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom during the presentation of her foreign policy vision in parliament.

One of the key points of that vision is that the government will appoint a diplomat to work full-time on the Israel-PA conflict.

The special envoy will establish contacts and represent Sweden in international talks about the conflict, according to The Local.

"This year marks 50 years of the occupation of Palestine. Sweden continues to work for a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and will appoint a special envoy,” Wallstrom told parliament.

"When I visited Palestine in December it was noticeable that hope can turn to despair, and this features heavily in the consultations that Sweden is holding with almost 150 Israeli and Palestinian civil society organizations," she added.

It is unclear whether Israel will welcome the news, as Wallstrom has had a tense relationship with the Jewish state due to her past harsh anti-Israel statements.

In 2014, then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman denounced Sweden’s decision to recognize the PA as "the State of Palestine", saying that “relations in the Middle East are a lot more complex than the self-assembly furniture of IKEA”.

Wallstrom later replied and said she would be “happy” to send Liberman some IKEA furniture “and he will also see that what you need to put that together is, first of all, a partner.”

Following that incident, Wallstrom accused Israel of being “extremely aggressive” and accused the Jewish state of “irritating its allies”.

In December of 2015, she attacked Israel again, claiming during a debate in parliament that Israel was “executing” without trial terrorists who carried out stabbing attacks in Israel.

Several weeks before that, the Swedish minister provoked a firestorm of criticism, when she appeared to blame the terrorist attacks in Paris on "Palestinian frustration" with Israel.

Most recently, Wallstrom was refused meetings with Israeli ministers during her visit to the region. She did visit Ramallah, where PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas decorated her with an award he calls the Grand Star of the Order of Jerusalem.