Swedish housing minister to resign after comparing Israel to Nazis

Swedish Housing Minister Mehmet Kaplan will resign following comments where he likened Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to what happened to Jews in Nazi Germany, the prime minister said on Monday.

The Svenska Dagbladet newspaper reported on Sunday that Kaplan, a member of the centre-left government’s junior partner the Green Party, told a seminar in 2009 that “Israelis today treat Palestinians in a very similar way to how Jews were treated in Germany in the 1930s”.

News of the comments was immediately met with a wave of heavy criticism, by among others Israel’s ambassador to Stockholm and Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallström.

“I think it was a terrible statement and I strongly reject it,” she told Swedish media on Monday morning.

The resignation comes amid reports of tensions within the center-left minority coalition government of Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s Social Democrats and the Green Party.

The coalition had already been strained by an asylum crisis last year. Deputy Prime Minister Asa Romson of the Greens was close to tears when tougher asylum policies were presented late last year and criticism from within her party has been fierce.

Kaplan, who was born in Turkey, has also been criticized for appearing on pictures from a dinner where representatives from an ultra-nationalist Turkish organization attended.