This is a wonderful and surprising story, showing that even the most liberal, seemingly anti-Israel countries have been undergoing changes.
An Israeli who thinks about Israel’s friends in Europe would probably not rank Sweden high on the list. For many years, Sweden has been making headlines here mainly following harsh anti-Israel statements by members of its government, especially Foreign Minister Margot Wallström.
But they do not tell the whole story.
Since January, Margot Wallström and her party have led a narrow minority government that has to rely on two central parties who are not satisfied with her anti-Israel positions. In the meantime, there are a few prominent pro-Israel politicians and others who demand fair treatment for Israel. The first step in this direction is a bill to transfer the Swedish embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Similar proposals have been made by the Swedish Democratic Party and the Christian Democratic Party, a relatively small right-wing party, but they are no longer the only ones in the picture. The latest proposal has attracted much interest in the parliament, which has become much pro-Israeli since the last elections and the passage of the proposal seems to be becoming a real possibility. With support from the extreme right and the center, it is hard to believe that the moderate party, the largest party of the Swedish Right and certainly pro-Israeli, will remain outside and align itself with the socialist left.
The four parties expected to support the resolution – the moderates, the democratic Swedes, the Christian Democrats and the Liberals – together represent 174 seats out of 349; That is exactly one less than most. The leftist parties are expected to object, but the centrist party (31 seats) has not yet been heard from.
Whether the proposal passes or not, and even if the embassy moves or not (in any case the proposal speaks of a future transfer and probably will not affect anything in the meantime, as long as Wallsterm is in the Foreign Minister), these numbers tell an important story: The Swedish parliament is becoming much more friendly to Israel.
It looked like Western European countries would be the last surefire supporters of the automatic Palestinian veto on anything Israel deserves, as even Arab countries have been resigning themselves to living with and possibly cooperating with Israel.
To see the most obvious example of a country antipathetic to Israel changing like this is pretty remarkable.
To be sure, this is going to be a slow process. At DigiTell, I’m listening to a speaker from Sweden who showed antisemitic synagogue graffiti that the police call anti-Zionist.
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