The journey of atonement that wasn't
The journey of atonement that wasn't

Sweden's leader of the opposition Anna Kinberg Batra was interested in learning more about Israel and the, from Sweden, 'recognized' Palestine. She decided to make a field trip. Kinberg Batra is a newcomer in a leading role in Swedish politics and had not made any prior statements regarding Israel. Israeli- Swedish relations have been stranded since our former Foreign Minister Carl Bildt had trouble of making a difference between Hamas and Israel.

Both countries were in the need of a fresh start. Or so it seemed. 
Both countries were in the need of a fresh start. Or so it seemed. 

It is uncustomary for a Swedish politician to meet the PM of Israel.

Anna Kinberg Batra was given the best opportunity to enhance the Swedish Israeli relations.

In the game of bridge one can put it bluntly by saying that Anna Kinberg Batra had all the trump in her hand. What does she do? She starts her journey by insulting the host country.

This was so amateur. It was a behavior one can expect from a curious high school student that sees his opportunity to get audience. But it wasn't a behavior honorable of a politician seeking to improve relations.

And yet, the writings were on the wall to quote Sam Smith.

When the EU released its long-awaited report on the stalemate in the peace process, Israeli settlements were high on the agenda. What was also highlighted in the report was the violence, incitement and indoctrination in the Palestinian media and educational system. 

Of the ten countries that Sweden gave most aid to last year 2014 ´Palestine´stands out not only out as the country per capita that gets almost twice as much assistance as Somalia, which is in second place, and 50 times that of Bangladesh, in tenth place. Palestine is also the country which, according to the UN is the most developed, far more than, for example, Zambia and Bangladesh.

The reason that Palestine gets as much assistance is, to quote Ulrika Modéer, that "Sweden has a huge commitment in Palestine and it also shows this government's decision to recognize Palestine as a state. Palestine is an incredible aid-dependent country and I believe that we can contribute to reforms introduced as part of the peace process. "

Liberals Birgitta Ohlsson says that aid will be used as the carrot and the stick, and the clearest example of undemanding aid is the support to the Palestinian Authority.

There have been no elections in over a decade, corruption is widespread, homosexuals are oppressed, critical voices are silenced and anti-Semitic violence propaganda flows without the responsible reaction. Despite this, Sweden has not sharpened the tone. On the contrary. The red-green government went so far as to recognize Palestine as a state without clear direct offsets even that the Palestinian people would first vote in free elections - even though this had been the single most important incentive to get the Palestinian leadership to better respect human rights . Anna Kinberg had the opportunity. She didn’t take it.

The official Swedish press release from the Netanyahu meeting was the usual. They had a 'frank' dialogue, 'we want our relations to improve'. What is interesting is not what was said but rather what wasn't. There were no photos. No press conference. Ann Kinberg Batra was snubbed of her fifteen minutes of fame. 

Sweden likes to view itself as a humanitarian global power. Regardless the truth in this, the country has 186 areas that is characterized by high unemployment, 55 no go zones, over 50 percent of unemployment when it comes to foreign born citizens outside Europe.

Sweden is thus interested in enhancing the relations with Israel in a range of areas. The visit by Anna Kinberg Batra was an indication that it will take many more years to come next time an Israeli Foreign minister or a PM will agree upon meeting a Swedish politician.