Lapid, Swedish FM discuss renewed cooperation after 7-year freeze

“Both of us stressed that friendship and cooperation can and must go hand [in hand] with respect for each other’s convictions and differences,” the Swedish foreign minister said after speaking with Lapid.

By Atara Beck, World Israel News

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke with his Swedish counterpart recently – the first conversation between the two countries’ top diplomats in seven years.

“Very good talk with Israeli colleague Yair Lapid. Opportunity for me to wish him Shana Tova & emphasise the importance of our bilateral relationship. Both of us stressed that friendship & cooperation can & must go hand with respect for each other’s convictions & differences,” Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde tweeted.

“I condemned terrorism and expressed strong and solid commitment for the security of Israel,” she said.

Wallström, Linde’s predecessor, had brought Swedish-Israeli relations to a low under Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party.

In 2014, Sweden became the first member of the European Union to recognize Palestinian statehood.

In December 2013, Wallstrom submitted a request to meet with the Israeli leadership, which was declined. The official reason was that there were timing constraints.

In January 2015, then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman refused to meet with her, leading to cancellation of her trip.

A year later, then-Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely announced that Jerusalem was banning all visits by Swedish diplomats.

“In the clearest manner possible, the State of Israel is conveying a very sharp message to Sweden, which says: ‘You are backing terror, you are giving ISIS a tail wind to operate throughout Europe,” Hotovely stated.

Wallstrom resigned in September 2019, citing “family reasons.”

Lapid also tweeted about the renewed diplomacy, saying that the “phone conversation, the first in 7 years between the Foreign Ministers of our countries, symbolizes the relaunching of relations at this level.”

“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.

“I look forward to increased cooperation with Sweden on bilateral and multilateral issues.”