Swedish lawmakers fear one-sided criticism over country’s policy on Israel

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Fearing one-sided criticism of Sweden, European Parliament lawmakers from that country objected to the appearance of a Zionist compatriot at a panel debate about Israel.

Bodil Valero and Marita Ulvskog of the Greens and Social Democrat blocs, respectively, expressed their objection to Wednesday’s appearance in Brussels of Saskia Pantell, director of Sweden’s Zionist Federation, in a letter they sent Monday to European Parliament President Martin Schulz.

“Considering public statements made by Ms. Pantell on Sweden in the past, unopposed criticism could be expected” at Pantell’s address on Sweden-Israel relations before members of the parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Israel, they wrote.

Sweden’s relations with Israel have deteriorated since Sweden became the only EU country to recognize Palestine as a country, and since Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom linked terrorist attacks in Paris to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.


Established in 1979, the delegation headed by Fulvio Martusciello from Italy is among the European Parliament’s oldest and is responsible for developing parliamentary ties with the Knesset in Jerusalem.

A spokesperson for the delegation denied claims the forum was biased, adding that Margrete Auken, a Danish Greens MEP, expressed her party’s views on the subject at the event Wednesday.

The accusation of anti-Swedish bias mirrors frequent complaints by Israel’s supporters and representatives that Jerusalem is singled out for criticism in one-sided forums at the European Parliament — including by the Greens and Social Democrats.

In 2013, Israeli diplomats said the Social Democrat organizers of a conference in Brussels rejected requests to have Israeli officials attend the event, which examined critically the treatment of Israeli Bedouins.

In December, two Greens members of the European Parliament complained to Schulz about Martusciello’s statements against a European Commission requirement for separate labeling of products from the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan.

By speaking out against this requirement, the Greens members argued, Martusciello was “in breach of EU provisions.”

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