Top Israeli, Swedish diplomat chat in effort to mend ties
JERUSALEM (AP) — The foreign ministers of Israel and Sweden held their first phone call in seven years on Monday, a move hailed by the top Israeli diplomat as the “relaunching of relations” after protracted tensions between the two countries.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid wrote on Twitter that he spoke with his Swedish counterpart, Ann Linde, and thanked her for “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.”
“I look forward to increased cooperation with Sweden on bilateral and multilateral issues,” Lapid said.
There was no immediate comment from the Swedish Foreign Ministry.
Israel has moved to mend ties with several countries since Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Lapid formed a unity government in June, ousting longtime leader Benjamin Netanyahu from office after 12 years and following four deadlocked elections. The Bennett-Lapid government has made strides to repair relations with neighboring Jordan and Egypt and the Palestinians, as well as with the Biden administration.
Sweden’s relations with Israel have been strained since the Social Democratic-led government in 2014 recognized Palestinian statehood. Its former foreign minister’s comments in recent years concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict drew angry responses from Israeli officials.
Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has prioritized combating anti-Semitism in recent years, and last year attended an International Holocaust Memorial event in Israel before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. It was the first visit by a Swedish leader in 21 years.
Sweden will host world leaders at the International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance in Malmo, the country’s third-largest city, next month.