PM tries to ease tensions
after Foreign Minister slams Israel
By GIL HOFFMAN
August 7, 2002
Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson attempted to ease tensions
between his country and Israel Wednesday, after comments by Swedish
Foreign Minister Anna Lindh raised the ire of Foreign Ministry officials.
The report in Monday's Jerusalem Post, in which Foreign Ministry
officials accused Lindh of bias against Israel, made the top of
the news on Swedish television Tuesday night, after the report was
picked up by a Swedish news agency.
When reporters covering Persson's visit to the Swedish island of
Oland asked the prime minister about Israel's criticism of Lindh,
he responded that the dispute was probably due to a translation
The diplomatic episode began when Lindh responded to UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan's report on the IDF's operations in the Jenin refugee
camp in an official press release of the Swedish Foreign Ministry.
"Israel's refusal to cooperate with the UN has meant that
a full and comprehensive report has not been possible to produce,"
Lindh said. "The report shows that serious crimes against humanitarian
law have occurred," she said.
"Particularly disturbing is the report's information on Israel
denying access to humanitarian personnel to the areas in which fighting
occurred. The violence of both sides has caused great civilian suffering."
Israeli Foreign Ministry officials responded with "anger and
astonishment" at the statement and alleged that it is part
of a long string of anti-Israel comments made by Lindh. The officials
accused the Swedish foreign minister of lacking the courage to admit
that she exaggerated in previous statements in which she spoke of
"rumors of a massacre in Jenin."
The charges d'affaires in the Swedish Embassy in Tel Aviv, Erika
Ferrer, spoke with Foreign Ministry officials about the report and
clarified that the statements, as reported, did not accurately reflect
Lindh's point of view.
"We have a problem in general in the Israeli media of things
being taken out of context," Ferrer explained.
"The embassy wants to make clear that Lindh has come out strongly
against terrorism and considers herself fair to both sides."
The Israeli Foreign Ministry replied that it based its response
on the official press release in English of Lindh's statements,
as published by the Swedish Foreign Ministry.
Stabs Swedish Foreign Minister
September 10, 2003
Sweden's Foreign Minister Anna Lindh was stabbed in the arm at
a department store in central Stockholm on Wednesday, her ministry
said. It was not immediately clear how badly she was hurt.
Lindh, 46, one of the most active campaigners for Sweden to join
the euro in a referendum on Sunday, was taken to hospital, a foreign
ministry spokeswoman said.
Lindh was shopping at the upmarket NK store when she was stabbed,
ministry spokeswoman Ingrid Palmklint said. No details were given
of who attacked her. Aftonbladet newspaper's Web site said an unidentified
man was being held by police.
A popular member of the ruling Social Democratic government, Lindh
has been tipped as a possible successor to Prime Minister Goran