Jerusalem: A top Israeli official said on Wednesday, “Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom will not be welcome in Israel following her call for investigations into the killing of Palestinians by Israeli forces and other critical comments”. Israel’s fiery deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, harshly criticised Wallstrom, calling her comments “a mix of blindness and political stupidity”. She said in comments broadcast on Israeli public radio, “Israel has decided to close its doors to official Swedish visits”.
A foreign ministry spokesman later walked back her comments, saying they referred only to Wallstrom and not other Swedish officials. An adviser to Hotovely said that diplomatic relations with Sweden would continue. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also serves as Israel’s foreign minister. As the controversy erupted, a Swedish delegation including one of the country’s deputy parliament speakers, Esabelle Dingizian, was visiting Israel.
Wallstrom made the comments on Tuesday while responding to a question in parliament on a controversy raised in December by her statement on the need for Israel to avoid “extrajudicial executions”.