Sweden’s FM Wallström: ‘We see the settlements and other violence’

Last Friday it was time for Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallström to endure yet another round of criticism in a debate in the Swedish parliament. However this time the criticism came from the pro-Palestinian camp. The Left Party’s MP Torbjörn Björlund asked in his interpellation ”the state of affairs in Palestine” the Swedish Foreign Minister, how she intends to act in order to ”keep attention on the situation in Palestine and counter the ongoing development that prevents a peaceful solution and a free Palestine.” Of course Björlund wanted to get Wallström even more on his political side and make her criticise Israel even harsher.

From this debate the Swedish people once again got proofs of our government’s perspective on the Middle East conflict, a perspective that is becoming more and more detached from reality. As a bonus we also got an example of the Swedish Left’s lack of checking the facts.

In the debate Björlund reiterated his baseless assertion, from earlier this year at a pro-Palestinian demonstration, that 200, 000 Palestinians (Israeli Arabs) live in tents in Israel. The MP stated the following:

We know that today half a million Palestinians live in Israel. Many of them are Israeli citizens. Approximately 200,000 of them live in tents. They have thus no right to build on their own land in Israel.

There are around 3,000 homeless people in Israel (i. e definitively less homeless people than in Sweden). There are no 200,000 Palestinians in Israel who live in tents. The number of Israeli Arabs holding Israeli citizenship is 1.7 million, not “half a million”. There are no facts to justify Björlund’s assertion. The Swedish Left does not seem to have been updated about Israel since the 1980s, when perhaps Björlund’s demographic figures could have been true.

Unfortunately the Swedish media doesn’t question statements like Björlund’s. Not a single journalist has asked a single question to him about those 200,000 Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, who he claims live in tents. Neither did the Swedish Foreign Minister. No, instead she contributed with yet another statement of hers that can easily be “misunderstood” (or can it?). The following was said by Wallström during the debate:

 The UN Deputy Secretary-General also has in the end of November highlighted this very serious situation, in which we see the settlements and other violence that has to do with this – demolitions and so on.

Are settlements violence? Whose violence is this “other violence”? Are legal demolitions violence?

Well here we go again! The Swedish Foreign Minister’s vague statements, which create question marks seem to be so frequent that they hardly can be considered unfortunate exceptions. Instead, they are proofs of apparent incompetence. Sweden deserves a better skilled government. Foreign policy issues are important issues. We as Swedish citizens can not tolerate that they will be dealt with in an incompetent way. Instead we, the Swedish citizens must show the way forward and be clear in our communication with our politicians. Therefore, I will now be very clear: Resign Wallström!

About the Author
Tobias Petersson is a Swedish freelance writer who has focused on Israel and the MENA region. He came to Israel first in 2007 for a summer vacation and learned much. Soon after his return to Sweden he was suddenly aware of the anti-Israeli sentiments in his country and decided he wanted to change that. He has published articles about Israel in various Swedish and Israeli media to make the distance between Israel and Sweden less. Today Tobias is active in the Swedish pro-Israel network Perspektiv på Israel/Perspective on Israel.