LOn October 30, 2014, Sweden became the first European Union member state to recognize Palestine. Returning to power after eight years of opposition, the Swedish Social Democrats wanted to relaunch the peace process, by encouraging “moderate Palestinian forces”, in the words of Margot Wallström, then Minister of Foreign Affairs. They also hoped that their gesture would soon be imitated by other European countries. This does not happen.
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Nine years later, Sweden has radically changed its position. While the Scandinavian kingdom has long been among the Western countries most committed to the Palestinian cause, the country, now governed on the right, has displayed almost unfailing support for Israel since the Hamas terrorist attack on its soil on the 7th. october. This development, parallel to that of part of Europe, illustrates the division which makes it difficult to define a common position for the European Union.
For the current liberal-conservative government, there is no question of openly criticizing the Israeli offensive in Gaza, which has nevertheless caused several Swedish victims, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Questioned on October 23 and then on October 31, the head of diplomacy Tobias Billström estimated that Israel’s response was “proportionate, in relation to his right to defend himself”. The ministry’s website specifies that this right “is not absolute”but must respect the » international law « . For his part, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson announced on November 12 that he “did not wish to pass judgment on the situation”.
From pro-Palestinian to pro-Israeli
This position leads the country to play a balancing act: if Sweden does not advocate for a ceasefire, it calls for humanitarian access to Gaza and the protection of civilians. But he abstained from voting on the resolution presented by Jordan to the United Nations General Assembly on October 27, in favor of a “immediate, lasting and sustained humanitarian truce” – Germany also abstained, France voted for. The text “did not clearly condemn Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel and did not refer to Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorists”the Ministry of Foreign Affairs justified itself.
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Furthermore, the government announced, on October 10, the suspension of development aid paid to the Palestinians, before releasing, on November 2, 150 million crowns (13 million euros) for humanitarian aid in Gaza. . Three of the four parties in the government coalition – the Christian Democrats, the Liberals and the far-right Sweden Democrats – also demanded the revocation of recognition of Palestine, which Billström ruled out, saying it would “would benefit Hamas”.
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