Auteur: Andrew Rettman
Israeli media have highlighted fraud allegations against Sweden’s foreign minister, amid outrage over her criticism of Israeli killing of Palestinians.
The minister, Margot Wallstroem, is to face a criminal investigation into how she rented a flat in Stockholm, owned by Kommunal, a trade union, in what looks like queue-jumping in the city, which has a housing shortage.
The affair comes after she accused Israel, in December, of “extrajudicial” killing of Palestinians in the so-called Knife Intifada - an outbreak of knife and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians against Israelis.
She also called, last week, for an inquiry into the death toll - more than 150 Palestinians in the past four months, compared to 26 Israelis.
The Stockholm flat story, over the past few days, made the news in leading Israeli media, including: Arutz Sheva, Ynetnews, the Jerusalem Post, the Times of Israel, and Haaretz.
The Times of Israel used the headline: “Sweden’s Israel-bashing FM named in Stockholm housing scandal.”
Arutz Sheva used the sub-heading: “Outspokenly anti-Israel foreign minister, Margot Wallstroem, under investigation for illegally circumventing years-long housing wait list.”
Most of the articles went on to recall Wallstroem’s remarks on the Palestinian killings, and cited comments by Israeli ministers, who have, variously, described her as “outrageous and stupid” or “irresponsible and delusional.”
The Jerusalem Post also ran a story saying that seven opposition MPs in Sweden have called for a parliament debate on Wallstroem’s remarks, because they constitute incitement to violence.
Dov Lipman, from the World Zionist Organisation, who lobbied for the parliamentary hearing, said: “The fact … Wallstroem will have to answer these difficult questions in a public setting is a huge diplomatic success.”
Barry Shaw, an expert at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies, also wrote an op-ed in Arutz Sheva, entitled: “European liberal left leaves Europe in decay, Wallstroem-style.”
He said Wallstroem, and other left-leaning European politicians who voice sympathy for Palestinians, are letting in too many Muslim migrants.
He said they’ve turned “homogenous countries into dysfunctional societies.” He added: “Wallstroem-style compassion for terrorism will also find its limits in Sweden, it seems, only after it experiences murderous terrorism on its soil.”
For its part, Haaretz, a government-critical newspaper, was more muted. It simply reprinted the housing affair story from the Reuters news agency.
Meanwhile, Gideon Levy, a Haaretz op-ed writer, defended Wallstroem.
“Israel executes people without trial nearly every day. Any other description is a lie,” he said, adding: “In most cases, there was no need to shoot - and certainly not to kill … They shot to kill, to punish, to release their anger, and to take revenge."
He cited, as an example, the killing of Said Abu al-Wafa, a Palestinian father-of-four, last Saturday, by soldiers at a checkpoint who “suspected” he had a knife. They shot him 11 times.
He also cited the killing of Ashrakat Qattanani, a 16-year old Palestinian.
Qattanani had run after an Israeli woman with a knife. “First a settler ran her over with his car, and when she was lying injured on the ground, soldiers and settlers shot her at least four times. Execution - what else?,” Levy said.
US backs EU on labels
Israeli diplomats, last week, also lobbied EU states to water down a statement saying they'll “unequivocally and explicitly” differentiate between Israel and its West Bank settlements in bilateral accords.
The statement comes after the EU, last year, published a retail code for labels on settler exports, prompting Israeli accusations of a return to Nazi-era anti-Semitism.
But the US State Department, on Tuesday, backed the EU policy.
It’s spokesman, John Kirby, told press in Washington: “We do not view labeling the origin of products as being from the settlements a boycott of Israel … We view Israeli settlement activity as illegitimate and counterproductive to the cause of peace.”
More than half a million settlers have moved to the Israeli-occupied West Bank since 1967, a number which, in recent times, is growing by 16,000 a year.