Margot Wallstrom, Swedish FM Shunned by Israel Over Palestinian State Recognition, Announces Resignation
Margot Wallstrom, the Swedish foreign minister whose tenure has been marked by a serious decline in bilateral ties with Israel, announced on Friday that she was stepping down from her post.
A former United Nations Special Representative dealing with sexual violence in conflicts who also served two stints as a European Union commissioner, Wallstrom was appointed Swedish foreign minister in 2014.
“I have put everything I have into the job of making Sweden safe, respected internationally and appreciated as a partner,” Wallstrom said in a statement. “It is time for me to spend more time with my husband, my children and my grandchildren.”
Wallstrom told Swedish radio she expected Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to announce her successor on Tuesday when he makes his policy declaration as parliament resumes after summer break.
“It seems like an adequate point in time to also say who will succeed me,” she told the public broadcaster.
Throughout her time in the post, Wallstrom was an unsympathetic critic of Israeli policy. A planned visit to Israel was postponed when furious government ministers refused to meet with Wallstrom following her decision in Oct. 2014 to recognize the Palestinian unilateral declaration of statehood. “She would not have received any official meetings in Israel, and it’s not a matter of political perspective, I think that all decision makers in Israel agree that what Sweden did is a highly unfriendly act,” an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson explained at the time.
In Nov. 2015, after the Islamist terrorist attacks in Paris, Wallstrom opined that the unresolved conflict between Israel and the Palestinians was a key factor in the radicalization of Islamists. Two months later, Wallstrom again roused anger in the Jewish state when she urged an investigation into Israel’s supposed “extrajudicial killings” of Palestinian terrorists — a claim rejected as “delusional” in Jerusalem.
Elswhere in the Middle East, Wallstrom’s relationship with Saudi Arabia was also unusually tense. In 2015, the Saudis recalled their ambassador from Stockholm after Sweden canceled a defense cooperation accord over human rights concerns. Wallstrom criticized as “medieval” the punishment of a liberal blogger by flogging.