Jerusalem, January 19, 2004

Ministry of Foreign Affairs summons Swedish Ambassador in Israel
(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

The Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Yoav Biran, summoned Robert Rydberg, Ambassador of Sweden in Israel, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday to convey an official protest concerning the Stockholm museum exhibit.

The Director General and the Deputy Director General for Europe, who was present at the meeting, noted that under the cover of "art" Sweden violated understandings with Israel that the conference, the subject of which is genocide and the lessons to be learned from the Holocaust, would not in any way touch upon the Middle East conflict.

The Director General also rejected the claim that the object of the dispute was an "artistic exhibit." Our love and appreciation of art, he noted, is not less than other peoples, but we will not accept inciting or distorted political messages even when they come under the heading of art.

Mr. Biran stressed the Prime Minister’s and the Foreign Minister’s support of Israel’s ambassador in Sweden, Zvi Mazel, and the shock that the exhibit aroused in Israeli public opinion. The Director General added that, under the circumstances, Israel will find it difficult to participate in the conference. Israel expects the Swedish government to take steps to rectify the situation and to get the conference back on the agreed-upon track.