Israel–Sweden relations

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Israel–Sweden relations
Map indicating locations of Israel and Sweden



Israel–Sweden relations refers to the bilateral relations between Israel and Sweden. Israel has an embassy in Stockholm while Sweden has an embassy in Tel Aviv, consulate in Jerusalem and honorary consulates (Haifa and Eilat)


Sweden voted in favor of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine in 1947, which lead to the creation of the State of Israel. Relations between Sweden and Israel were good during the 1950s and 1960s, during Tage Erlander's tenure as Prime Minister of Sweden. Erlander expressed strong support for Israel during the Six-Day War.[1]

Olof Palme, who succeeded Erlander as Swedish Prime Minister and leader of the Social Democratic Party in 1969, was more critical of the United States and its allies, including Israel. In 1969, the Social Democratic Party adopted a neutral stance in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.[2] The new policy was justified by the Swedish diplomat Gunnar Jarring's position as the United Nations Secretary-General's special envoy in the conflict (the so-called Jarring Mission).[2]

In October 1973, during the Yom Kippur War, Sweden's Minister for Foreign Affairs Krister Wickman criticized Israel and said the problems in the Middle East could not be solved by military superiority.[2] In June 1981, Sweden condemned Israel's attack on the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq as a "clear violation of international law".[3] In July 1982, after Israel's invasion of Lebanon, Prime Minister Olof Palme compared Israel's treatment of Palestinian children to Nazi Germany's treatment of Jewish children in the Nazi concentration camps and ghettos of World War II.[4] In December 1988, Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat visited Stockholm by invitation of the Swedish government. After two days of negotiations, Arafat announced that he would now accept Israel's right to exist and he denounced all forms of terrorism.[5]

In October 1999, Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson visited Israel, offering to broker the Middle East peace process. Persson's visit was the first official visit for a Swedish Prime Minister since Tage Erlander's visit in 1962.[6]

In January 2004, Israel's ambassador to Sweden Zvi Mazel vandalized a piece of artwork by Swedish-Israeli artist Dror Feiler on display at the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm, presenting a portrait of Palestinian suicide bomber Hanadi Jaradat as "Snow White." Mazel's actions sparked a diplomatic incident between the two countries.[citation needed]

During the 2006 Lebanon War, Minister for Foreign Affairs Jan Eliasson condemned both the actions of Hezbollah and the Israeli response .[7] During the Gaza War in January 2009, Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt criticised Israel and called for an immediate ceasefire [8]

In August 2009, a diplomatic row erupted after the publication of an article in the Swedish daily Aftonbladet that claimed the Israel Defense Forces had engaged in organ harvesting from dead Palestinians. Israel called on the Swedish government to condemn the article, which it described as a "manifestation of antisemitism" and a modern "blood libel".[9] The Swedish government refused, citing freedom of the press and the country's constitution.

In October 2014, the newly elected Swedish Social Democratic Party-led government of Stefan Lofven announced it would recognize the state of Palestine saying that "the conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be solved with a two-state solution... A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence. Sweden will therefore recognise the state of Palestine."[10] In response, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's office said that "he regrets that the new prime minister was in a hurry to make statements on Sweden's position regarding recognition of a Palestinian state, apparently before he had time even to study the issue in depth"[11] and that the Swedish ambassador would be summoned to have a "conversation" on the issue.[12]

Commercial ties[edit]

The Swedish clothing chain H&M opened its first store in Tel Aviv in 2010, followed by five more stores across the country. More stores are planned for the Gush Dan area.[13]

Cultural ties[edit]

The Sweden–Israel Friendship Association is a Swedish-based organization that works to promote cultural ties between Israel and Sweden. It was established in Stockholm in 1953, with local branches opening in Gothenburg and Malmö the following year. Today the association comprises 26 local branches with a membership of 3,000.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ahlmark, Per (1997). Det öppna såret : om massmord och medlöperi (in Swedish). Stockholm: Timbro. p. 195. ISBN 91-7566-326-0. 
  2. ^ a b c Ahlmark 1997, p. 196.
  3. ^ Ahlmark, Per (2004). Det är demokratin, dumbom! (in Swedish). Stockholm: Timbro. p. 46. ISBN 91-7566-548-4. 
  4. ^ Anförande vid TCO kongressen
  5. ^ Horisont 1988 (in Swedish). Malmö: Bertmark. 1988. p. 291. 
  6. ^ När var hur 2001 (in Swedish). Stockholm: Dagens Nyheter. 2001. p. 17. 
  7. ^ Gustafsson, Erik (13 July 2006). "Skarp kritik från den svenska regeringen" [Sharp criticism from the Swedish government]. Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 29 August 2009. 
  8. ^ "Carl Bildt om situationen i Gaza" (in Swedish). Government Offices of Sweden. 8 January 2009. Retrieved 11 April 2010. 
  9. ^ Ravid, Barak; Uni, Assaf (23 August 2009). "Netanyahu to Sweden: Condemn IDF organ harvesting article". Haaretz. Retrieved 29 August 2009. 
  10. ^ "Sweden to recognise Palestinian state". 2014-10-05. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "Israel chides Swedish PM Stefan Loefven over Palestinian state". 2014-10-05. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  12. ^ "Israel slams Sweden′s decision to recognize Palestine". 2014-10-05. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  13. ^ Staff writer (12 March 2010). "First H&M Store In Israel Opens". The Financial. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
  14. ^ Sweden-Israel Friendship Association

External links[edit]