Yair Lapid
Yair LapidFlash 90

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Monday spoke with his Swedish counterpart, Ann Linde, marking the first time in seven years that the foreign ministers of the two countries have spoken.

“I appreciate her statement regarding Sweden’s strong and solid commitment to the security of Israel and her recognition in the course of our conversation of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people,” Lapid tweeted following the conversation.

“We discussed Israel’s participation at the Malmo Forum on Holocaust remembrance. I look forward to increased cooperation with Sweden on bilateral and multilateral issues,” he added.

Sweden and Israel have had tense relations in recent years, beginning when Linde’s predecessor, Margot Wallstrom, made a series of anti-Israel statements.

In 2014, then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman denounced Sweden’s decision to recognize the Palestinian Authority (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 claimed the Jewish state was “irritating its allies”.

In 2016, 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.

Linde, shortly after taking office in 2019, spoke of her desire to strengthen her country’s ties with the State of Israel, but at the same time also said that she believed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is not anti-Semitic, but rather a legitimate and non-violent movement.

Linde noted at the time that she is opposed to boycotts, but also said that a boycott is a legitimate means of using a non-violent political struggle regarding human rights and “occupation”.

She also acknowledged that Sweden supports a number of organizations which work against the State of Israel.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Sukkot in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)