Sweden and the Peace Process – A Strained Relationship

30 December 2015

EFD Senior Fellow, Magnus Norell, writes about the relationship between Sweden and Israel which he says has become increasingly strained due to a number factors, most notably the Swedish government's recent recognition of the state of Palestine - the "third EU country" to do so. Though receiving strong condemnation from Israel, Sweden argued that recognising Palestine as a state would facilitate more balanced (state-to-state) negotiations henceforth.

Norell writes, however, that Sweden's logic also stems from a much more ideological shift in its administration. He explains that while the idea of ideology in party politics is not a new for Sweden, the notion of "identity-politics and an emphasis on ideology, as opposed to pragmatism," has recently dominated the current parties (Social-Democratic and Green parties) that make up Sweden's administration. Norell adds that this emphasis on ideology is further compounded by the parties' perspectives of the world which "clearly and sharply delineates between 'right' and 'wrong'."

This position can be witnessed via recent statements by Swedish ministers, who instead of providing unconditional support for Israel's policies and actions, have instead taken the position of what Norell refers to as the "moral majority." This new policy position, which places "principles ahead of pragmatic relations with other countries," has soured Sweden's relations with Israel as well as other countries, regarding the Israel-Palestine issue. Norell concludes that while Sweden's intentions are to help the negotiation process, the government's recent policies may have a larger impact that Sweden had initially foreseen.

The article is in English and can be read here.