Israel Must Reshape its Relations with Sweden

Israel’s new government must take a firm stand in its relations with Sweden following Sweden’s acknowledgement of Palestine or risk losing Europe.

Tags: Sweden UNRWA
Martin Blecher

OpEds Martin Blecher
Martin Blecher
INN: MB

Good news first. Ed Milbrand and his Labour party overwhelmingly lost the election in Great Britain. Had he won, Israel was at risk of being further alienated and isolated, not because of its own policies, but because of the increasingly anti-Israel left paradigm in European socialist circles. 

Sweden’s acknowledgment of so called “Palestine” is the result of several years’ propaganda and campaigns aimed at weakening Israeli democracy. 

One needs to bear in mind that Western Europe for decades has been funding organizations that delegitimize the Jewish state and its values. What would have been the reactions in Great Britain, Germany, Spain, France et al if their countries were under constant attack from foreign entities that questioned and delegitimized their very existence as a nation? 

Countries like Sweden claim that by acknowledging a terror state like Palestine, they are saving the vision and idea of the two-state solution - without even acknowledging that Middle East national states de facto are collapsing this very instant.  The national state concept as we know it has ceased to exist in today’s Middle East. 

Sweden further claims that they are in favor of a two state solution. Their actions speak louder than their words. 

The Swedish government funds numerous Israeli and Palestinian NGOs through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the Embassy in Tel Aviv, the Representative Office in Ramallah, and indirectly by outsourcing to Swedish aid organizations such as Diakonia and Kvinna till Kvinna. 

Many NGOs receiving Swedish government funding oppose a two-state formula, disapprove of peace efforts, promote BDS efforts and lawfare cases against Israeli officials, and engage in anti-Semitic activities.

Diakonia, which received SEK 390 million from Sweden in 2013, regularly exploits legal rhetoric to demonize Israel, accusing Israel of "war crimes," "collective punishment" and "violations of international law."

The Church of Sweden, which received SEK 192 million from Sweden and the EU in 2013, endorses and promotes the Kairos Palestine document. This document calls for BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) against Israel and denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel, as well as ignoring the extreme harassment and violence committed by Palestinians against Christians.

European and other governments use direct funding for Israeli NGOs in order to promote their own views and interests, regardless and often in opposition to the policies of the democratically elected representatives of the Israeli public. The NGOs that receive such funding promote opposition policies on highly complex and sensitive issues such as Jerusalem, the future of the "West Bank", responses to terror in Gaza, and other core issues which are central to the lives of Israeli citizens.

Israel has been on the defensive when it comes to Sweden's recognition of "Palestine". Israel indeed recalled its ambassador but he was fairly rapidly sent back.

By not adapting even harder sanctions, Israel has ensured that the individual member countries in Europe will soon follow suit (Norway, Spain and France) by adopting more anti Israeli measures. 

I strongly doubt that the Israeli Foreign Ministry fully understood the implications of this acknowledgment, the snowball effect it may yet create. 
 
Why should a Swedish Consulate of the Palestinians exist in East Jerusalem? If Sweden can not move its embassy to Jerusalem, why then recognize East Jerusalem as a Palestinian territory? Israel's "leasing" land of courtesy to the Swedes, is something it is under no moral obligation to do. Netanyahu's current government should close the Consulate in East Jerusalem and move it, without delay, to Ramallah. And if the Swedes claim that the Palestinians can not guarantee their safety, well tough luck. They should definitely have considered that before recognizing a non-functional and non existing state.

Sweden is per capita one of UNRWA's largest donors. Now that a Palestinian state exists in Sweden's eyes, Swedish aid should disappear from UNRWA. There is no explanation why Palestinian refugees and the current organization receive solid support if there is a Palestinian state they can move to!

Israel needs to regain the initiative when it comes to its relations vis a vis Sweden and Scandinavia. By closing the Swedish consulate in Eastern Jerusalem for Palestinian affairs and strictly limiting the Swedish funding of anti- Israeli organizations, Israel will be taking action and also succeeding in sending a message of will power and strength.

 



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