Israeli officials will not meet visiting Swedish FM

AP News
Posted: Dec 13, 2016 11:38 AM
Israeli officials will not meet visiting Swedish FM

JERUSALEM (AP) — In an apparent diplomatic snub, Israel said Tuesday that none of its officials will meet with the Swedish foreign minister during a visit this week.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon cited a "scheduling issue" for the decision not to meet with Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom. It is highly unusual for a visiting high-level dignitary not to meet any Israeli officials.

Wallstrom arrives Thursday and is expected to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Sweden's relations with Israel have been strained since the Social Democratic-led government in 2014 recognized Palestinian statehood, and Wallstrom's comments on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have elicited angry responses from Israeli officials.

"I would have liked to visit Israel as well, but unfortunately they couldn't confirm it," Wallstrom said in a statement.

As foreign minister, Wallstrom has been outspoken on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Her statements have riled not just Israel but also Saudi Arabia, which temporarily recalled its ambassador from Sweden last year after Wallstrom criticized the kingdom's human rights record.