“Sweden is a friend of Israel,” said Linde.
The Swedish Foreign Minister added: “We both see a real opportunity to deepen our dialogue further and develop many years of cooperation in terms of innovation, culture and trade and fight anti-Semitism … I also learned that Foreign Minister Lapid is a champion of women’s rights, and as a feminist foreign minister in a feminist government with a feminist foreign policy, I see more opportunities for cooperation here. ”
Linde was the first Swedish foreign minister to visit Israel since Sweden recognized a Palestinian state in 2014, which triggered a diplomatic row and downgraded relations below the level of foreign ministers.
Lapid praised Linde for trying to bring the countries back together.
“In our conversations, we agreed that friends do not have to agree on everything,” Lapid said. “I appreciated what you said to me, that behind the criticism lies a deep support for Israel’s security and the right of the Jews to form a state in our historic homeland.”
Lapid said he and Linde share a “common desire to develop, advance and realize the economic and social potential between the countries and to cultivate and grow links in technology and trade.”
“I think because of the page we are turning here today, there will be a whole new book on friendship and cooperation,” he said.
Linde “confirmed Sweden’s commitment to Israel’s security” and added that she and Lapid discussed the Iranian threat and other regional developments.
She congratulated Israel on the Abrahamic Agreements, peace and normalization agreements between Israel and Arab states, and said that “Sweden supports efforts for dialogue and understanding in the region. Normalization between Israel and Arab countries is really positive for peace and security. ”
Linde added, however, that Sweden still wants to see a two-state solution and the end of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
Lapid spoke about the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who saved thousands of Jews from the Nazis in Hungary, including Lapid’s father, former Minister of Justice Tommy Lapid.
Earlier, Linde visited Herzog in Bet Hanassi.
The President thanked Linde for hosting Malmöforum and emphasized the need for international unity in the fight against anti-Semitism.
Herzog “emphasized the importance of the indisputable fact of Israel’s unique status in the family of nations as the state of the Jewish people, which maintains equality among all its citizens and is a liberal democracy,” his spokesman said.
The President also emphasized the Abrahamic Agreements and encouraged Sweden to actively support efforts for peace and normalization with more states in the region.
The diplomatic dispute in 2014 between Israel and Sweden worsened when Sweden’s Foreign Minister at the time Margot Wallstrom accused Israel of “extrajudicial killings” of Palestinians. Lapid, then leader of an opposition party, accused Wallstrom of anti-Semitism at an Israeli meeting in Stockholm in 2016.
Israel withdrew its ambassador from Stockholm for a month, and there was no contact between the countries at ministerial level until this year.
But over the past two years, Sweden has made efforts to improve relations, including speaking out to convene an EU-Israel Association Council and supporting Israeli candidacy for UN agencies.
These efforts culminated in Lapid and Linde meeting alongside the EU Foreign Affairs Council in July, where Linde expressed his desire to improve relations between the two countries.
Following the first official talks between Israeli and Swedish foreign ministers in seven years in September, Sweden announced that it would boycott the Durban IV conference against Israel against the UN.
The ties between Israel and Sweden also fit with Lapid’s stated goal of strengthening Israel’s ties to liberal, democratic countries.