Social Democrats: expel Israeli ambassador

A number of Social Democratic parliamentary candidates in Sweden are calling on the government to expel Israel’s ambassador in Stockholm as a show of protest against the Jewish state’s attacks on Lebanon. But Carin Jämtin, the overseas aid minister, has to do so would be “completely crazy”.

The nine candidates, who are standing for Sweden’s parliament, the Riksdag, in the general election to be held on September 17th, accused the government of inaction.

“It is remarkable that no leading Swedish politician, so far, has reacted on the subject,” said Magnus Manhammar, from Blekinge, along with eight other parliamentary candidates in a group press release on Wednesday.

“We refuse to be quiet when thousands of civilians are injured and killed. That is why we demand that the Swedish government expel Israel’s ambassador to Sweden until the military attacks and violence against the Lebanese people is stopped.”

“In Sweden it seems as though all of the politicians on the left have fallen asleep,” said Alaa Idris, a candidate from Örebro.

But Carin Jämtin, deputising for foreign minister Jan Eliasson, dismissed the call to send the Israeli ambassador packing.

“I think that would be a completely crazy measure to take. The right way forward is diplomacy and talks, and I hope that we will be able to continue to talk with the Israeli ambassador in Stockholm,” she said.

The Social Democratic Women’s Association has previously called on the government to recall the Swedish military attaché from Israel, but Jämtin also rejected this demand.

“The most important thing we can demand at the moment is a ceasefire from both parties. In this context our military attaché in Israel has an important role maintaining contact with the Israeli military. He also played an important role, through his contacts with the Israeli military, in evacuating Swedes from Lebanon.”

The Social Democratic Women’s Association also wants the government to avoid any cooperation with Israel on defence equipment procurement, and wants the EU’s trade agreement with the Jewish state to be frozen.

“We feel, as do a large proportion of the Swedish people, a great sense of desparation over developments in the Middle East. This would be a signal that we don’t accept Israel’s violence,” Anne Ludvigsson, deputy chairwoman of the association, told TT yesterday.

The Left and Green Parties are also demanding more decisive action from the government. They want Sweden to push for the United Nations to be given the lead role in shaping peace in the region.

Left Party leader Lars Ohly writes that “the only decent Swedish line” is to work in the EU and the UN to criticise Israeli actions.