Israel accuses Sweden of ‘diplomatic coup’

Israel has accused Sweden of trying to change the EU’s stance on Jerusalem and refer to the city as the official capital of Israel and Palestine while at the helm of the rotating EU presidency.

According to an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Friday, Israel’s foreign ministry has instructed its EU envoys to block what they call the “Swedish initiative.”

The newspaper claims that it has seen official statements by senior Swedish official and other documents which refer to Jerusalem as the capital of the two states.

”Israeli missions in Europe were instructed to investigate, discreetly, the position of the EU member states regarding the Swedish initiative,” the article states.

”And whether this was an attempt at a diplomatic coup or an initiative that enjoys broad support.”

According to the Israeli government, this new position could have a serious effect on EU contributions to the peace process.

However, a source from Sweden’s foreign ministry told newspaper Dagens Nyheter that the evidence is unfounded. However, changes have been made to refer to Jerusalem as a future capital for Israel and Palestine.

”This has come about after requests from many member states and has been discussed by all 27 EU countries down to the smallest detail,” the source told DN.

”Essentially this is nothing new,” the source added. ”To achieve a lasting peace solution, it has long-been the understanding of the EU that Jerusalem needs to become the capital city of the two states.”

Newspaper Svenska Dagbladet also quotes a foreign ministry source who denies the allegations that a new position has been driven by Sweden.

”It sounds like an old assertion from Israel that Sweden wants to introduce a change in policy,” the source said.

Relations between the two countries have been strained since a controversial article was published in Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet accusing Israeli soldiers of harvesting organs from dead Palestinians.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government has expressed surprise that a cancelled visit by Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, planned for September, has yet to be rescheduled.

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Former Israeli soldier attacked on Berlin street

A former Israeli soldier was attacked in the German capital Berlin, police said Saturday, with one or several unknown assailants spraying him with an irritant and throwing him to the ground.

Former Israeli soldier attacked on Berlin street
Israeli soldiers on operation near the Gaza Strip. Photo: dpa | Ilia Yefimovich

The 29-year-old was wearing a top with the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) logo when the attackers started harassing him on Friday about his religion, the police added, calling it “an anti-Semitic attack”.

Officers are seeking the assailants, who fled immediately after the attack, on suspicion of a politically-motivated crime.

Saturday is the second anniversary of an attack by a far-right gunman on a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle, who killed two in a rampage when he failed to break into the house of worship.

It was one of a string of incidents that led authorities to declare the far right and neo-Nazis Germany’s top security threat.

Also this week, a musician claimed he was turned away from a hotel in eastern city Leipzig for wearing a Star-of-David pendant.

While the allegations prompted a fierce response from a Jewish community unsettled by increasing anti-Semitic crimes, several investigations have been mounted into contradictory accounts of the incident.

In 2019, police recorded 2,032 anti-Semitic crimes, an increase of 13 percent year-on-year.

“The threat is complex and comes from different directions” from jihadists to the far right, the federal government’s commissioner for the fight against anti-Semitism Felix Klein said recently.