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Swedish FM calls off visit to Israel following Lieberman’s remarks

Wallstrom was meant to arrive in Israel mid-January to take part in a memorial service for a Swedish diplomat who sheltered Jews during WWII

Published: Updated:

The Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom called off her visit to Israel after Israeli PM Avigdor Lieberman said he would boycott her visit, Israeli news website YNet News reported on Wednesday.

Wallstrom was meant to arrive in Israel in mid-January to take part in a memorial service for a Swedish diplomat who sheltered Jews during WWII.

In remarks made in December, Lieberman accused Sweden of abandoning Israel as European countries abandoned Czechoslovakia in 1938, the Israeli website reported.

Following the remarks, Sweden said Wallstrom would carry on with the visit but the decision was reversed in recent days as a spokesperson added that the trip would be rescheduled without providing a date.

Additionally, the Swedes had proposed a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but were told that such a meeting would not take place.

The tension in relations follows Sweden’s recognition of the State of Palestine in 2014, which saw the recalling of the Israeli ambassador to Stockholm before his return three weeks later.

The two FMs have exchanged snarky remarks in the media, Ynet reported, with Lieberman saying that Middle East relations are “more complicated than self-assembled furniture from Ikea.”

In response, Wallstrom offered to “send Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman an Ikea self-assembly package,” adding that Lieberman “will see that it demands a partner, cooperation and a good instruction manual.”