What the hell has Scandinavia done to Benjamin Netanyahu? @talschneider— Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky) March 13, 2015
'Scandinavia' accused of meddling in Israel vote
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: TT
13 March 2015
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused 'Scandinavian governments' of spending millions of dollars on a campaign to remove him from power, as the Middle Eastern country prepares for elections next week.
In an interview with an Israeli radio station, the head of the right-wing Likud party who faces a tough challenge from the centre and left in the upcoming vote, said he believed that Nordic politicians did not want him to remain in office.
"Scandinavian governments have spent millions of dollars on a campaign to remove me from power," he said on the station Kol Israel.
"Western governments, but mostly Scandinavian...They know perfectly well why they prefer Buji and Livni to me," he added, referring to his opponents.
In a separate interview with Rega Radio he was reported to have said that "foreign governments, specifically Scandinavians, are part of a worldwide campaign to topple me", according to a translation posted on Twitter by Israeli blogger and journalist Tal Schneider.
Sweden in particular has had strained relations with Israel in recent months after becoming the first western European country to formally recognize the state of Palestine.
The decision led to Israel temporarily recalling its ambassador from Stockholm and claims that Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström had been snubbed by Israeli government officials, after she cancelled a planned visit to Jerusalem.
But Netanyahu's comments about Scandinavian governments have been met with strong criticism from some social media users in Israel.
"What the hell has Scandinavia done to Benjamin Netanyahu?", wrote Jerusalem-based journalist Noga Tarnopolsky.
Israeli historian and writer Gershom Gorenberg posted: "last refuge of the fading strongman: accuse outside agitators, foreign governments".
The Local contacted the Swedish foreign ministry on Friday afternoon and was told that Foreign Minister Margot Wallström had yet to comment on the matter. It remains unclear if she plans to respond to the allegations.
The minister recently met with the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Stockholm and this week held talks with with Palestinian Ambassador Hala Husni Fariz Odeh.
"Our relations with Sweden are deep, long lasting and have been strengthened further by the recognition of Palestine and the historic visit by President Mahmoud Abbas [to Sweden]," Odeh told Swedish news agency TT after their discussions.
Israel's election takes place on March 17th and the vote will decide who becomes the next Prime Minister in the divided Middle Eastern country.